Pettit Oil Company closed its doors abruptly Friday, leaving a recorded message on the corporate and Hoquiam phones that it is no longer in business.
“Hello. Thank you for calling Pettit Oil Company. We regret to inform you that after many years of service, Pettit Oil has closed its doors and is no longer in business. We appreciate your many years of loyalty as a customer, thank you,” said a male voice.
The closure of the Lakewood-based petroleum distributor follows an attempt to reorganize under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in late November. A message was left for bankruptcy lawyer Brian L. Budsberg of Olympia.
“My concern is always for the employees when a business closes. The fuel oil business is a tough one at best, given the challenges to the trucking business. The last thing we need is more people looking for work,” Hoquiam Mayor Jack Durney in an email Friday.
“Pettit Oil and their employees have been a big part of our community,” City Administrator Brian Shay wrote in an email. He said he personally has had friends and very close family members who worked at Pettit Oil and regrets that they lost their jobs. “My heart goes out to them and their families.”
Pettit was “our vendor for all city vehicle fuel,” City Administrator Brian Shay wrote. Hoquiam is now with MASCO Petroleum “who is expediting our account to keep our vehicles fueled and ready to serve the public,” Shay added.
It is another blow to Hoquiam’s city coffers, which lost Harbor Paper earlier. The city takes in about $6,000 per year in B&O taxes, Shay reported. Around $24,000 in annual sales taxes will not be lost because consumers of heating oil will find another suppliers, he said.
The Pettit Oil website reports that the company has around 200 employees, and has operated in Western Washington for more than 75 years. The Seattle Times put the number of employees at 125 in early December and said the company had sales of $319 million in 2012 and served more than 10,000 customers. It was not clear how many employees worked at the Hoquiam operation.
That Chapter 11 petition, filed Nov. 25, reported debt totaling about $22.5 million and assets valued at $18.7 million, according to the Times, which listed the largest secured creditors as “KeyBank, owed more than 11.3 million and U.S. Bank, owed about $18.7 million.”
Customers found the pumps locked at the station early Friday morning in Hoquiam. A home heating oil consumer in the the Tacoma area who did not want to be identified complained he stands to lose around $1000 in payments for heating oil he has banked with the company. He trusted them because of his experience with Pettit while living on the Harbor, he said.
A retiree, he noted the closure might be tough on people living on fixed incomes. “Thank God we are not having Chicago weather,” he said, adding he filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s office Friday.
Pettit was ranked the state’s 33rd-largest private company in the state in 2011 by Puget Sound Business Journal, the website says. Pettit had three distribution facilities on the Olympic Peninsula, at 820 Myrtle in Hoquiam, and one each in Port Angeles and Forks. Other operations included corporate headquarters in Lakewood, and facilities in Everett and Bremerton.
Pettit Oil supplies fuel and lubricants to Chevron, Texaco, 76, Tesoro, CFN, Pacific Pride and Voyager according to logos on their website.
The website says it has supplied heating oil to homes in Western Washington for more than 125 years. Shay noted “We have had a long great relationship with them and appreciated their commitment to us as a customer particularly during the December 2007 windstorm that knocked out power for a week.”
Erin Hart, 360-537-3932, firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @DW_Erin