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    Ryan Oil Sells Chain to Quality State

    Purchase of five stores will bring Quality's c-store count to 22.

    SHEBOYGAN, Wis. -- Ryan Oil Co., based here, recently finalized agreements to sell its five-store convenience operation to Quality State, which operates the Q-mart chain, the Sheboygan-Press reported.

    As a result of the purchase, Q-mart now has 22 locations in several cities, including Sheboygan, Sheboygan Falls, Oostburg, Plymouth, Neenah-Menasha, Fond du Lac and Sturgeon Bay, Wis. Terms of the transaction were not released, according to the report.

    "The stores are established. They're good stores. They have an excellent customer base, and they fit right into our market," Greg Bultman, Quality State president, told the newspaper. Bultman, who has been president of Quality State since 1988, said acquiring the Ryan Oil stores was a good move. The two sides had been talking "off and on" over the past six to nine months about the deal, he added.

    About 45 employees worked for Ryan, many of whom will be retained by Q-mart. The Ryan stores are already part of the Q-mart Rewards program, which offers customer discounts, Bultman told the Sheboygan-Press.

    The sale stemmed from Ryan Oil's owner, Muriel Ryan, decision to retire after 33 years in the business, the report stated. The deal was finalized in late July. Currently, the former Ryan stores have been converted to Q-marts, although signs with Ryan Oil's shamrock have yet to be changed. "The shamrock is going to go back to Ireland," Ryan said.

    "It's the end of an era, but I think Quality State has a very good name in the community, and they're basically locally-owned," said Ryan, 73, who founded the company in 1974 with her late husband, Don Ryan. The Ryans came to Sheboygan in 1974 to start the business after Don Ryan worked for Standard Oil and Amoco Oil in the Chicago area for more than 20 years.

    During the past 33 years, four of the couple's eight children worked for the company, including Bob Ryan, a Sheboygan alderman, who came up with the shamrock logo for the stores, and operates his own c-store in Plymouth, Wis., the report stated.

    Even though the two companies have competed for the same customers, both Ryan and Bultman said they did so amicably. "We've always been friends. We have basically carried on a very congenial relationship within the same realm, belonging to the same oil associations and so on," Ryan told the paper. "So, you could classify it as competition, but it's been a very congenial, very hospitable type of a relationship."

    Bultman agreed, "Quality State tends to be a friendly competitor in all the markets we operate in. That's the kind of the reputation we want to have. We want to be first in line to serve the customer with the lowest and best prices, and we want to be friendly with our competition."

    Ryan told the paper the sale will help finance her retirement, but she enjoyed running the business. "I love every minute of it. I love the people, and I love the work and the endeavors. But I feel it's time," she added. "The time was right, the buyer was right, and I think it's time to move on and enjoy a little bit of retirement."

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