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PORTLAND, Maine -- After 123 years in business, M.W. Sewall has written its final chapter. The family-owned business, which was founded in 1887 -- closed its doors for the final time yesterday.
M.W. Sewall, based in Bath, Maine, sold fuel, heating oil and propane and also operated 11 convenience stores. All assets will be sold, according to a release issued this afternoon.
"Our retail company had a beginning based in service," says Philip Sewall, the last CEO of M.W. Sewall. "We delivered coal and ice to homesteaders. Being of service to our community is also how I see our end," he said.
The move comes after Sewall pleaded no contest to three misdemeanor counts that the corporation failed to pay taxes in a timely manner. All taxes are being paid to Maine and the citizens are protected thanks to an errors and omissions insurance policy Sewall commissioned as CEO. However, the company insurance doesn't cover all the outstanding money. He has personally stepped up for the rest, the release added.
"The agreement reached requires Philip Sewall to personally pay out a large amount of money ($275,000) to cover the unpaid taxes owed by the company and other assets are available to repay the state through the bankruptcy. The remaining companies of M.W. Sewall are under new leadership and can move forward. This is a good outcome for the citizens of Maine," says Maine Attorney General William Schneider.
Philip Sewall is the great grandson of founder Mark W. Sewall. In a business spanning three centuries, M.W. Sewall employed hundreds of Bath residents.
"What I am most proud of is we always operated as part of the community -- my family settled here over 200 years ago," Sewall said. "While I wish we were still operating today, I'm proud that we managed to close our doors in a way that took care of people as best we could and that serves our obligations to the citizens of Maine and our creditors."
Family business counselor Tom Davidow said the Sewall family is "devastated" by the process. "I'm glad it's over for him. I'm not surprised to find he's managed to take care of so many people and exit the business in a responsible manner -- that's the way his father taught him, which is why he asked Philip to replace him when he resigned as a director."