It all started with the hiring of a truck driver in 1927. The Texas Company had been operating at its location on East John Street in Martinsburg since 1917, and R. Mark “Mickey” Roach was hired ten years later to operate a tank truck as part of the firm’s kerosene and gasoline supply business. Today an incarnation of that business, R.M. Roach & Sons still exists in the Panhandle, and the story of the family who owns and operates it is an incredible account that truly needs to be shared with our community.
The business that would be known locally for its ROCS and Roach Energy trade names originally came from simple beginnings. Mickey Roach would eventually be known as the original patriarch of R.M. Roach & Sons. He would work his way up to become manager of the gasoline and home fuel division of the business holdings of Trammell Hollis, the local business owner who was the commissioned agent of The Texas Company. When Mr. Hollis passed away in 1952, Mickey stepped in, purchased the business, and established a direct contract with The Texas Company. This allowed him the ability to sell Texaco products under the Roach name. Three years later, Mickey would incorporate his business as R.M. Roach & Sons.
Mickey’s sons, Doug and Don, began working in the business in 1956. They proudly oversaw a period of rapid expansion for the company, including the positioning of the company to be the operator of a large number of the area’s gas stations. It was at one of these gas stations that a third generation of the Roach family would begin his involvement with the company.
That third generation family member is Steve Roach, the current president and CEO of the company. After having worked in the business and helping to ensure its success, Steve’s two brothers, Scott and Stan, sold Steve their interest in the company. Today, Steve is joined by his sons, Jason and Matt, who represent a forth generation of the family that continues their service to our community. Steve is very passionate about the future of the business, and is equally sure of the ability his sons have to lead the company to even bigger horizons. “I truly want my sons to continue to grow the business,” Steve explains. “They are the next generation. Jason is a little older and has a lot of management experience. Matt is a CPA with incredible business know-how. Between the two of them, they have all the right skills.” The next generation Roaches are already putting those skills to use. Jason is serving as the general manager of the ROCS division, and Matt is the chief administration officer. Both contribute to all other business areas whenever help is needed. Today, the three company stewards oversee more than twenty ROCS convenience stores and Subway restaurants. They also have a large HVAC, Oil, and Propane division that supplies home heating and cooling services for our community.
It takes great skill to be able to successfully manage such a large business. One particularly necessary skill is the ability to balance work and life. This is difficult for anyone who works, but is particularly challenging for a family that works together. Steve says that when he is with Jason and Matt, the three of them are always trying to think of ways to innovate and improve the business. To help maintain the balance, Tina, Steve’s wife, has instituted a very particular family dinner rule. “We have a rule that after six o’clock, there is no more talk of work,” Steve says jokingly. “You really have to do what you can to make that separation. It’s healthy.”
Jason and Matt echo their father’s sentiments about working with family, but find that the maintaining of clear communication channels and the ensuring of the ability to speak frankly with one another is critical to success. “It can be tricky working with family,” Jason admits. “It’s when we lose sight of the mission in business—making the business the best it can be—that it can get confusing. Luckily for us, we have a pretty great family, and everyone wants the business to be the best it can be.”
Matt sees working within the family as an opportunity. “It is an honor to have the opportunity to work and learn from my father and brother. This is the right fit for me because I get the chance to help the family and the community.” The two brothers are extremely committed to building a strong company that has a positive impact on our community. Matt recognizes that there is something special about their business. “We are a family and regional company with great employees who have worked hard to serve the community.”
Making the business as successful as possible is a focus of all family members, but one could argue that they are equally committed to the Panhandle community. R.M. Roach & Sons is known locally for its community fundraising efforts, its charitable donations, and its conscious support of organizations that provide critical services in our area. Steve explains, “We feel that we have a commitment to the community. We give back and support a number of charities that have a special place in our heart. We want to make our community a better place to live, and we have a higher sense of purpose than just doing business.” Noteworthy community support includes the drastically reduced leasing rates provided for the youth-focused Berkeley County BMX/Skatepark facility on Kelly Island Road, as well as numerous in-store United Way fundraising efforts that raise thousands of dollars each year for the local chapter. “Martinsburg is a unique community in that it is a very involved community,” Steve continues. “The citizens really want to make the community better. We appreciate this and try to give back as well. We are the major sponsor of the Norwalk/ROCS Soap Box Derby coming up in June
Their commitment to this area is further translated into a desire to provide the best possible service to the patrons of their business. The Roach family believes that it is this service that sets them apart from other similar businesses in the area. Jason recalls how a commitment to service was instilled in him at a young age. “When I was younger, I rode around on the oil delivery truck, pulling the hose for the driver and filling customer tanks. I remember going out with Dad to do a Christmas Eve delivery because he didn’t want to have to call in a driver during their time with their family, but also did not want to let the customer go through the agony of having no heat through the holiday.” This story is exemplary of the top-to-bottom commitment expected of every company employee.
This type of customer dedication is taught at all levels of the organization. Steve is quick to express that all members of the organization, including himself and his sons, must be prepared to do whatever it takes to create a positive customer experience. Steve teaches his employees the value of outstanding service through the exemplary service he provides to customers whenever he has the chance. Jason furthers his father’s sentiment by saying, “Our Company has done well because the family is full of hard workers, and none of us are scared to roll up our sleeves.”
There are nearly 200 of those hard workers who strive to make the company the best it can be. Beyond the success of their business, or the positive contributions to the community, the family is most proud of the fact that they are able to provide a livelihood for so many of our neighbors. Jason believes that it is these individuals who make the company successful. “It’s important to mention the 200 people that make the business work. They are excited about working with us to make the business the best it can be.” He emphasizes the critical role of these individuals. “Every employee plays a most important role in the business. They are the face of the company and are experts in their respective areas.” The family believes that it has some of the best employees of any company in the area, and each Roach expresses gratitude for the incredible commitment of their employees.
The combination of customer-focused service provided by their employees, and the determination of the Roach family, has made the business both a Panhandle employer and a service provider of choice. Whether you are a potential employee or a potential customer, R.M. Roach & Sons truly want to exceed your expectations. The family is grateful for the support that the community has shown this business over the past fifty-nine years. Matt simply states, “Thanks for giving us a chance. The previous generations contributed a lot to the Panhandle, and we want to continue to do so.”
Undoubtedly, they will. If you want to learn more about the family’s history, the business’s future, or the ways they support our community, visit their website at roachenergy.com. Better yet, stop by a ROCS and fill up, or grab a foot-long sub from a Roach Family Subway. You’ll be glad to know that you have chosen to support a locally owned, community-conscious business.
- Courtesy Around the Panhandle Magazine