UNIVERSAL OIL INC., originally “Union Oil Company,” was founded by William H. Compton in 1877. First located at West 3rd and Canal Street, Universal Oil manufactured premium fuels and industrial lubricants.

After Compton’s death on February 10, 1909, his share in the business was inherited by his daughter, Mrs. Bessie Ferris Johnson, and she succeeded him as president. With the aid of her husband, Dr. Wendell Howard Johnson, vice president, she continued the business very successfully. in 1924, Mr. Charles F. Siegrist bought the controlling interest in the Union Oil Company. At a meeting of the stockholders of the Auto City Oil Company, a Michigan corporation, the two companies were merged under the name of the Union Oil Company. Born September 1897,  Cleveland-native Charles Siegrist enjoyed a prosperous career in mechanical engineering, leading up to his involvement in Universal Oil. Siegrist worked as the chief engineer for the Rockefeller Building, and worked with JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER himself for fifteen years. Siegrist was also a 32nd degree Freemason, a Shriner, and vice president of the High Moon Club. He ran the company till his death in 1929.

The United States Coast Guard proudly supports their marine fueling program which is offered 24/7. Their automotive services have a 48 hour guarantee, and their industrial lubricants serve a wide variety of industries including commercial, industrial, construction, off highway, agricultural, automotive, and specialty markets. Products such as Phillips 66 and Kendall Motor Oil add to their custom blends which are used and approved by many commercial, private, scholastic, and municipal organizations. In 2007, the Mendelsohn family transferred ownership of the company to become 100% employee owned through a stock ownership program.

In 2011, Universal Oil received a Notice of Violation from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for exceeding the annual throughput limit for emissions. This is considered a Violation of Ohio Air Pollution Laws. As of 2016, Scott Fox has served as president of Universal Oil. Outside of Universal Oil he works as an Adjunct Professor at Baldwin Wallace University and is also the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lorain County.

Universal Oil has continued to supply Northeast Ohio with premium fuel and industrial lubricants for over 142 years. They pride themselves on quality service and remaining an employee-owned company.

Today, Universal Oil operates from 265 Jefferson Avenue Cleveland, OH 44113. Universal Oil is a member of the ONE HUNDRED YEAR CLUB OF THE WESTERN RESERVE.


Last updated: 2/27/2023


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