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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Harper Oil Co., a family-owned business with more than 70 years of history here, reached an agreement to sell its chain of 26 convenience stores to Israel-based EZ Energy USA, a subsidiary of EZ Energy Ltd., the State Journal-Register Online reported.
"Our company has been exploring various means of growth over the past couple of years, and selling our portfolio of stores intact to EZ Energy will allow our employees and our customers to benefit from the future growth of our brand," Harper CEO Chris Sommer said in a joint statement by the two companies.
The deal, which is expected to be completed this summer, will maintain the stores' banner as Harper On the Way, with its corporate headquarters in Springfield, Ill. As part of the agreement, EZ Energy plans to lease the headquarters at 2319 W. Jefferson St.
EZ Energy also expects to keep the existing managers and more than 200 employees, the report stated.
"We're still going to be in business as Harper Oil Company, and we'll still be a family business in Springfield, and that's important to us," said Harper vice president Bruce Sommer.
Harper Oil co-founder Perry Pierce began the family business with a refined-oil plant in 1933. In 1937, the first Pierce Oil station opened. The current name, Harper Oil, was created in 1956, from the combination of the co-founders' first names -- Harvey and Perry.
"We believe that Harper On The Way locations represent a strong brand in the Illinois market and will provide EZ Energy USA with a solid platform for future growth," EZ energy chairman Eli Zahavi said in the statement.
This purchase furthers EZ Energy's plan to have more than 100 convenience stores in the U.S. CSNews Online previously reported in May that the company purchased 13 stations for $12.7 million, one month after it bought 40 Midwest stations for $37 million.