In 1944 George Dowler was employed by Imperial Oil and was given the opportunity to become the Imperial Oil Agent for the St Thomas area. During this period his daughter Joyce assisted him as his bookkeeper and worked in a 10′ X 10′ building adjacent to the Imperial Oil facility, located at 105 Flora St. in St. Thomas. In the late 40’s and early 50’s, homeowners were actively switching their heating systems from coal to furnace fuel. With the business expanding rather quickly, Imperial Oil felt it necessary to create two distributors – one would become the Home Comfort dealer, supplying home heating fuel, while the other would become the Farm Trade Agent supplying fuels to the farming sector. George Dowler decided to keep the Home Comfort division and remained operating as “Dowler Fuels“.
At this time Joyce Dowler was dating a young man by the name of Jack Karn who was employed as a butcher at the Dominion grocery store. George Dowler and Imperial Oil approached Jack and insisted he take over the Farm Trade business. Jack agreed to try a new career and the new agency was formed under the name “Jack Karn Fuels.” Jack and Joyce were married in 1954 as Joyce continued performing office duties throughout the continuing years.
Both businesses operated successfully throughout the years. In 1967 George Dowler, Jack Karn ,and Imperial Oil jointly decided to amalgamate the two agencies. A new company was created called “Dowler-Karn Limited.”
Sadly on June 10th, 1970 George Dowler passed away.
In 1973, Dowler-Karn put their first tandem fuel delivery truck into service, one of the first of its kind to be operated in Ontario.
In 1978, Jack and Joyce’s oldest son, John Karn, graduated from high school and assumed a role working full time within the company.
The year was 1979 when Jack made a business decision that would turn out to be a defining moment for him and the company. Dowler-Karn was losing fuel customers, not to the regular fuel competitors, but to a relatively new fuel – Propane. Home heating, vehicle fleets and even tobacco curing kilns were switching to this alternative fuel. It was at this point that Dowler-Karn ventured into the propane business. This would allow Dowler-Karn to supply both petroleum products and propane to their customers.
In 1983, Dave Karn joined the company full time after graduating from high school. Dave was followed shortly thereafter, in 1984, by Barb Molinaro, Jack & Joyce’s daughter, who also began to work full time for the company.