Manchester-based J&S Oil Changes Hands

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After 44 years in business, Manchester-based J&S Oil has changed hands.

Nouria Energy Corp., of Worcester, Massachusetts, announced this week that is has completed its acquisition of the assets of J&S Oil — eight Xpress Stop convenience stores with gas stations, two Express Lube auto service stations, three Ultra Clean car washes, a wholesale fuel supply division, and a transportation logistics business.

[John Babb, president of J&S Oil, talks about converting the credit and debit card system to chip system during an interview on Feb. 10 at the company's Xpress Stop store in Manchester.]
John Babb, president of J&S Oil, talks about converting the credit and debit card system to chip system during an interview on Feb. 10 at the company's Xpress Stop store in Manchester. Staff file photo by Joe Phelan

“We were at sort of a crossroads of growth or retraction,” co-owner John Babb said Wednesday. “Growth would have required much more capital and expertise than what we currently had at hand. When this opportunity presented, we saw the potential and the opportunities it would bring. We felt it was in our best interest to sell.”

In the transaction, the retail home heating business is being sold to Augusta Fuel Co.

Babb said both parts of the deal make for a good fit.

“We are confident they will continue to create and carry forward all the good we have created in the past,” he said.

In a news release, Nouria Energy President and CEO Tony El-Nemr said the J&S locations complement the company’s current operations in Maine because of the exceptional customer service they offer, their focus on food service and thriving private-label fuel and car wash businesses.

“I want to welcome the dedicated employees of J&S to the Nouria organization,” he said. “We have great respect for the successful business that the Babb family and their team have built over the years and look forward to working with and learning from this experienced group.”

John and Sonja Babb started with a single station in 1972 in Manchester at the family homestead.

Siblings Cassie and John Babb Jr. were honored in 2013 as the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Business Persons of the Year. At that time, John Babb Jr. said the company’s mission was to exceed the expectations of its customers and to prosper at the business.

The Babbs established an Employee Stock Ownership Plan in 1995. Through the plan, the company would buy stock from the Babbs and pass it to qualified employees at no cost. The company was named the New England ESOP Association of the Year.

In the same news release, John Babb said, “We very much look forward to blending our operations with the professional team of Nouria Energy and to being part of their growing portfolio of successful operation in New England.”

Babb said the company’s employees are being retained and both Babbs will continue with Nouria Energy as directors of the J&S Division of Nouria Energy.

“Customers should see only positive changes over time,” he said. “They shouldn’t see any immediate change.”

Nouria Energy Corp. owns and operates convenience stores and gas stations in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, selling fuel with Shell, Irving and Gulf brands. It was founded by El-Nemr with a single location in Massachusetts. Today it operates more than 90 convenience stores across New England and supplies fuel to 140 sites operating under the Shell, Irving and Gulf brands, as well as unbranded fuel, throughout the region.

In Maine, in addition to the newly acquired J&S Oil Division, Nouria has 18 Lil Mart locations in southern Maine and on the midcoast.

This article originally appeared on Central Maine.

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