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    Midwest Madness

    Lassus Bros. to sell 22 stores, mostly in Ohio; Indiana's Laub Oil looking to pull out of business.

    FORT WAYNE, Ind. -- Lassus Bros. Oil plans to sell more than 20 of its Handy Dandy convenience stores with gas stations as part of a realignment that will allow it to continue to grow the business.

    “We are focusing on the future now more than ever and keeping only core stores that will serve our customers best over the long run,” said Todd Lassus, president of the Fort Wayne, Ind.-based company.

    Lassus Bros. said in a written statement that it is evaluating its locations to “identify those more geographically and strategically sound.”

    Lassus Bros. has 40 company-owned and -operated locations, including about 15 in Fort Wayne, and annual revenue of more than $125 million. Lassus also has Handy Dandy convenience stores in Decatur and Nappanee. The Lassus family has operated the business for nearly 80 years.

    Most of the 22 properties expected to be sold are in Ohio, Lassus said in a telephone interview with the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. The company has not disclosed which locations might be sold. The Energy Exchange, a Chicago-based firm that specializes in the sale of service stations and convenience stores nationwide, is handling the sales.

    Lassus said his company employs about 450 people at its 40 locations. A buyer would likely retain those employees or Lassus said they would have an opportunity to transfer to other Lassus stores.

    “We've bought stores in the past, and I would say 100 percent of the time we retain the employees who worked at the store, and I would anticipate the same thing would happen with these” sales, Lassus told the newspaper.

    Money from the sale of the stores will be used to improve existing locations and to build new ones, he said. The company currently has a new store under construction in Fort Wayne, which is expected to open in mid-September. It will include 16 fueling stations, a car wash and a pizza and sub shop, as well as other services. The company also has plans for at least two other stores in Fort Wayne next year, he said.

    Laub Bros. Oil of Butler, Ind., has also retained The Energy Exchange to sell off its remaining five sites, located in the northeast region of Indiana and the northwest part of Ohio. Four of the five convenience stores with gas are Shell-branded; the sites will be sold de-branded unless the purchaser is a Shell distributor.

    Laub Bros. Oil president Doug Laub said, “I am looking at other challenges and investments outside of the oil and gas industry at this time, and so I am hopeful for an eager and enthusiastic buyer for the Laub Oil chain. At this point in my life, I am going to focus on one business instead of two. My father, who is the second generation of leadership in the Laub Oil business, is retiring. We founded Laub Oil in 1939 with the first gas station in Butler.”

    The properties are being sold under The Energy Exchange's “Dealer 2 Dealer” program, which benefits individual owners and operators by employing several confidential listing options. Under the “D2D” program, buyers are required to sign a confidentiality agreement and pre-qualification worksheet before receiving site specific information as well as financials.

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