Forward Corporation

For almost a century, Forward Corporation has owned and operated many brands and businesses across Michigan, and today we proudly employ nearly 1,000 people across our great state. But at Forward, you’re not just an employee. Or a customer. Or a vendor. You’re a member of the Forward Family. And in our family – just like yours – our top priority is taking care of one another. Because at Forward our mission is to make a positive impact on people’s lives.

95 Years of Forward Momentum

1920 – 1940

1925, Austin G. Forward, along with a partner, purchased the “Welcome Garage” in Standish, Mich. Their wives opened a small restaurant in the corner of the garage, which consisted of two tables and eight stools. Soon, people heading north knew it as one of the best service stops. In succeeding years, Austin Forward purchased his partner’s share of the business and went on to develop a network of Shell Stations in Arenac, Iosco and Ogemaw Counties.

1940 – 1960

In 1955, Austin N. Buttrick and Benjamin G. Buttrick, grandsons of the founder, purchased Forward Oil Company. The new owners immediately launched an expansion program. Old stations were remodeled and ultramodern stations and food facilities were constructed. Diversification rocketed the company into retailing tires, motor oil, ice, and auto parts and included a home and farm fuel delivery division.

1960 – 1980

As the expressway moved north in the late ’60s and early ’70s, Forward Corporation moved quickly to join the expressway age. The company built the first service plazas in Standish, Alger and West Branch, offering travelers clean restrooms and the convenience of one-stop shopping for gasoline and food. Having paved the way, Forward was followed by McDonalds, Burger King, and all the other fast food marketers in West Branch. The development continued along I-75 into Grayling and Gaylord, and on US-10 in Midland and Sanford. Forward currently markets its products in 18 counties.

1980 – 2000

In 1986, a Quality Inn Hotel was added to the property in West Branch. It featured a conference center, a full-service restaurant, a lounge, a 24-hour coffee shop and convenience store. Later, in 1994, a 41-room Super 8 Motel was added to this property to pick up the overflow from the Quality Inn and to offer the public another choice in lodging.

McTaggarts – 1987

Further diversification came to Forward Corporation in 1987 with the merger of McTaggart Wholesale. McTaggart’s was founded by Lyle and Helen McTaggart of Sterling. They specialized in the warehousing and delivery of sundry items such as inflatables, hats, gloves, batteries, toys, books and more. They also ventured into screenprinting and transfers for shirts, caps and jackets.

Propane – 1989

Forward Corporation also operates a thriving petroleum distributorship of fuels to farms, homes and commercial accounts. In 1988, propane was added to the ever-growing list of products offered by the company.

Our Companies

A History of excellence in Michigan

Forward Convenience Stores

With locations all along I-75, Forward convenience stores are some of the best places to stop for gas, snacks, drinks and more on your road trip. Nobody has a better selection of your favorite brands than us.

Subway Locations

Full-service banquet facility located in stunning West Branch, MI off our of Quality Inn hotel. Our conference center can accommodate up to 250 guests, with on-site catering available.

Forward Energy

The propane energy people need, with a pricing structure that fits the needs of our customers. We’ve been charging less fees than the competition, and putting the “pro” in propane since 1925.

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Custom apparel and gifts for resorts, schools, companies and more. We offer quality garments from brands you name and trust, decorated with comprehensive, quality-controlled processes.

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Kristin & Company

Get a whiff of our hand-poured, natural soy wax candles. Our candles come in the scents you love, with others you may not have tried before! Cleaner burning and longer lasting than traditional paraffin candles.

Forward Conference Center

Full-service banquet facility located in stunning West Branch, MI off our of Quality Inn hotel. Our conference center can accommodate up to 250 guests, with on-site catering available.


When you need a place to stay in northeastern Michigan, stay with Forward Corporation. We proudly serve overnight customers at the Quality Inn in West Branch, and both Super 8 hotels in West Branch and Houghton Lake.

LumberJack Food & Spirits

A local favorite for West Branch residents and tourists alike! Sit back and enjoy the up-north feeling our restaurant gives off. Serving a grand menu with vegetarian and gluten-free options.

Ideal Party Store

One of the area’s premier beer, wine, and spirits providers, Ideal Party Store of Bay City has been providing great service and selection since its founding in 1934. Forward Corp. also owns and operates Shamrock Dairy Bar, which is adjacent to the Johnston St. Ideal location.

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