AYER -Harvard Oil Company, owned by husband and wife Scott and Mary Kimball, is being sold to Ayer Oil Company. Both are local family-owned businesses. Both have been in business for many years.
Scott Kimball launched Harvard Oil 25 years ago. In the interim, Kimball also served a term on the Harvard Board of Selectmen.
In a letter sent his customers on June 12, Scott Kimball thanked his patrons and announced the new "exciting venture that we are about to embark on, which is joining forces with our neighbor and friend Kevin Horgan of Ayer Oil."
"Together the advantages will add a more complete in house heating and air conditioning service department fully capable to handle all of your heating and cooling needs," said Kimball. "This along with a state of art fuel oil storage facility right in Ayer means timely fuel oil deliveries at a more competitive price."
Kimball pledged that he and Mary would remain involved in the daily operation to answer questions during the transition. "Kevin and his family have been in business since the 1960's and their commitment to their customers and the community has been gratefully welcomed," said Kimball. "They will provide you with the prompt and courteous service you deserve."
Harvard Oil customers also received a letter from Horgan. "Welcome to the Ayer Oil family," wrote Horgan. Horgan likewise assured that Scott and Mary Kimball "are still involved with the operation of your account and will be here to ensure a
"Our commitment to our customers mirrors that of Scott and Mary, making this joint venture a seamless one," said Horgan. Horgan promised no interruption of service or deliveries for former Harvard Oil customers and said "there is nothing you have to do."
Horgan also noted that Ayer Oil is one of the only local providers of "Bioheat" - the blending of 5 percent renewable biodiesel into the heating oil. "This is a cleaner burning, renewable fuel that is grown here in the U.S.A., reducing our dependence on foreign sources of oil and is friendlier to the environment."
Ayer Oil Company was established in 1967 by Kevin Horgan's father and former multi-year Ayer Town Meeting Moderator Charles "Chuck" Horgan who died on March 2, 2010. The elder Horgan created Ayer Oil, a spin-off business from the former Ayer Ice Company which was located in the building near the tri-town line of Ayer/Harvard/Shirley at 323 West Main Street in Ayer in the building now owned by Grady Research.
The younger Horgan purchased the company in 1995. Since then, Ayer Oil Co. completed a similar merger in 2006 with the acquisition of Groton-based May & Hally Oil.
Of the merger of Harvard Oil clientele with Ayer Oil's customer base, Horgan said "It's quite honestly been a very friendly transition. Scott and I have been friends for years. Scott was friends with my father. We competed but it was quite friendly. If he ever needed anything or if I ever needed anything, we always helped each other out."
Ayer Oil built a bulk storage facility on Westford Road in Ayer in 2011. "The addition of the Harvard Oil Family is a continuation of our growth that deepens our roots in the communities we already serve," said Horgan.
A message left with Scott Kimball after business hours on Tuesday was not immediately returned. On Wednesday, Kevin Horgan said that the field is a competitive one, with smaller companies jockeying for position against larger oil companies.
Horgan chairs the Massachusetts Oil Heat Council. He said the industry group is urging approval of B12 fuels, comprised of 12 percent biodiesel fuel. "Its emissions are cleaner than natural gas," said Horgan. But the approval process, "like anything in this country, is slow."
Horgan said one wrinkle to iron out with the so-called 'greener' fuel is ensuring the bio-blended fuel will flow when exposed to harsh winter temperatures when stored outside. Otherwise, as far as demand for the B5 mix, "Everyone's asking for it. We've been using it for several years now." The oil business "is evolving, that's for sure," said Horgan. "Like the ice-to-oil transition" where the ice business was extinguished by electric refrigeration, Horgan said, "our industry is in transition."
Follow Mary Arata on Twitter.com/maryearata and Facebook.com/mary.arata.