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Exxon Mobil has sold at least 20 of its gas stations located in upstate New York since 2005, according to county records. This realignment of operations is making the affected store operators happy, reported The Buffalo News.
Paula Chen, spokeswoman for Exxon Mobil, told the newspaper that approximately 160 Mobil stations are affected by the change. She said that some stations are being sold to the fuel distributor and few were closed.
Similar changes are underway in Detroit and Milwaukee, as the company reviews its markets and decides on the best way to serve them, Chen added.
Exxon Mobil approached station operators with an option to buy the stations they were currently renting, while the company would continue to supply the fuel products stations need through distributors, said Janis Kline, new owner of an Exxon Mobil station in Buffalo.
Kline decided to buy her station because "I don't have to go with their mandated programs. I can run my business the best way I feel I can," she told the paper.
The sale of stations is a step forward for those operators who want to do more than just rent space, according to Ralph Bonbardiere, executive director of the New York State Association of Service Stations and Repair Shops.
While this is seen as a step forward for many, Jan Quitzau, executive director of the Service Station and Repair Shop Operators of New York, has reported that many members have encountered problems as a result of the deal they accepted from Exxon Mobil.
Quitzau told the newspaper that new owners had to immediately make necessary upgrades to equipment to prevent any environmental complications in the future, as well as manage the paperwork that Exxon Mobil had previously taken care of.
David Lutz was an operator for 25 years who decided to buy three stations when Exxon Mobil approached him with a non-negotiable deal. Lutz told the paper that he spent approximately $400,000 in equipment upgrades, including storage tanks, but sees the purchase as an investment in his business. "Now you've got new opportunities down the road," he told the newspaper.
Kline decided that she would remodel the property back to its origins when she bought her store. Last November she changed the "On-the-Run" store to the original "Landes & Blackwell," which was opened by her father in 1947.
Quitzau sees Exxon Mobil's actions as "sort of testing the waters" with that type of business model, she told The Buffalo News.