In 1909 behind the brilliant play of Honus Wagner the Pirates won the World Series. That same year, Andrew Weleski had been hauling goods and coal and a friend hired Andrew to move some furniture. That is when Weleski Transfer was created and today is an example of a family and a company living the American Dream, which through hard work and ability, embraces freedom, and the opportunity for prosperity and success.
103 years later, Andrew’s grandson Gary Weleski and his cousin Lynn Thompson run the moving company, and a conglomeration of other businesses that employ over 250 people. One immensely successful enterprise is the Welmart BP located in Natrona Heights. They also own Subway franchises and a truck repair company, a Dairy Queen and other varied interests. In a wood paneled office, surrounded by a century of pictures, with a unique charisma, Gary speaks with love and pride about the values he got from his grandfather Andrew and his father Anthony. Andrew wanted to “work hard, work honestly and exceed the customer’s expectations.” Gary says that work ethic he learned from “Dad and Grandpa” has helped him in business and life. Simply, no company stays in business for 100 years unless it knows how to treat its customers, and its employees.
Throughout the century, the Weleski’s diversified in business. They built storage facilities. In 1957, they had a warehouse and transported the giant rolls of newsprint to the Valley News Dispatch. In 1963, they became one of 400 Atlas Van Lines agents in the country. In 1988, with Gary as Regional Director, he and 60 other agents bought Atlas Van Lines and Gary now sits on the Board of Directors.
A graduate of Highland High School and Teal College, where he was on the golf team, Gary joined the company in 1974 and worked in International Relocation, which involved the military and the business sector. Gary’s daughter Lauren, a Penn State graduate, is now part of the fourth generation working in the family business. Destined for leadership, Lauren sits in on every meeting and Gary mentors Lauren in every aspect of the business. Gary’s other daughter Megan is pursuing her Master’s Degree at Hofstra University in Art Therapy. Megan is a former basketball player from St Joseph’s High School and did her undergraduate work at Duquesne University. Megan is engaged to Luke Palko, son of the famous football coach Bob Palko and brother of NFL player Tyler Palko.
The Welmart BP is a hugely successful operation, 24 hours a day. One loyal customer said, “They have Anthony’s pizza it’s great and cheap, they have a Subway, they serve fresh Krispy Kreme doughnuts, and they have clean restrooms. What else could you ask for?” Welmart sells BP gasoline and their diesel fuel is treated with the OTR additive designed to increase engine performance. Welmart is a family owned store and even though it is bright, modern and beautiful, it has that homespun feel. The long-time CRS’ are friendly and get to know people by name and their favorite products.
For over 10 years Countywide Petroleum Company has supplied Welmart with gasoline. Gary says he has a great relationship with Countywide Petroleum. Gary says that Countywide operates in a fair manner and had great things to say about Countywide’s Don Bowers and how Don gets Gary the gasoline at the best possible price. Gary had great things to say about Glassmere, Countywide’s hauler. Gary said Silberman, the convenience store supplier who works closely with Countywide, always keeps things fresh and has the latest products. Gary is proud to sell BP gasoline and says it is a great national brand.
When a company stays in business for over a hundred years, when it employs generations of family, and through its success supports hundreds of workers and their families, it is truly a story of success and the fruition of the American Dream.