North State Gas 1906

B.B. Byers, seated on tankwagon,with his brother
Charles standing, on Forest City's Main Street in 1906.
(Charles later headed Standard Oil in North Carolina.)

 North State Gas 1939

James Byers with one of his first delivery vehicles,
at the Byers family home in Shelby, circa 1939.

 North State Gas 1969

Employees Clint Higgins, Willard Deviney, Nathan Camby, Allen Campbell, &  James Byers are pictured here in 1969.

 North State Gas 2011

Some of the North State Office Staff

History of North State Gas

A Family Owned Propane Business

North State Gas Service traces its origins to 1938, a time when propane was a novel product to many households. B.B. Byers was recently retired from a 36-year career with the Standard Oil Company, and his son James was approaching graduation from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

When B.B. suggested that distributing propane for Standard under the company's "Essotane" brand could hold promise for James to create his own business, his son warmed to the idea. James chose the name "B.B. Byers & Sons," to allow for the possibility that his older brother Henry and his younger brother Tom might someday join the new enterprise.

With James Byers serving initially as the only full-time employee, and the Byers family home in Shelby serving as a base, the business began to gain a foothold in the marketplace.  But World War II soon intervened.  All three Byers sons entered military service, James arranging as best he could for the company's customers to continue to be served.  During the course of the war, both Henry and Tom Byers tragically lost their lives as pilots in the Army Air Corps. James returned from his Army service in 1946 and resumed operation of the company, but his father's declining health no longer permitted his participation.

James enlisted a partner, Emory Deviney, an area Standard Oil distributor. They created a corporation, christened it North State Gas Service, and constructed a small bulk plant in Forest City. The site of that plant remains the location of North State headquarters today.

After several years of productive partnership, Emory Deviney sold his share of the firm to James Byers, turning his attention more exclusively to his Deviney Oil Service. Their period of co-ownership of North State had been exceptionally harmonious, and the two remained fast friends for the remainder of their lives.

James Byers and Louise Jones of Shelby were married in 1943. In the course of time, they became the parents of five sons. As the sons grew to maturity, all of them took an interest in the family firm, and their father gradually transferred management responsibility to them. After a period of declining health, James Byers died in 1999. Today the three youngest Byers sons - Bruce, Stuart and Burwell - provide the day-to-day management of North State.

As the decades have unfolded, the nature of North State operations has evolved substantially. In the company's early days, propane was used almost exclusively for cooking. Residential customers continue to be at the heart of North State's business, but now heating and water heating account for a large proportion of residential use. And today the company serves a varied array of commercial, industrial, and agricultural customers as well