Phillips Fuel: A Personal Touch

Rhyle & Gary Stull, the third generation of a home heating family business in northeastern Pennsylvania, had considered selling the company on several occasions. But it was an encounter with Gray, Gray & Gray and our FuelExchange™ merger & acquisition service that finally convinced them it was the right time.

“We first learned about Gray, Gray & Gray and the FuelExchange™ program when we were contacted by Carl Kaplan,” recalls Rhyle Stull. “He asked if he could stop by our office to give us an overview of the program. Just a quick 15 minute chat that turned into an hour and half chat!”

That initial introduction led to a meeting with Marty Kirshner and Joe Ciccarello. “They asked many questions about the business and where we were in our lives. They helped us decide that we were actually ready to sell,” says Rhyle. “The comfort level helped us settle into the idea of selling.”

Gary Stull adds, “We were very comfortable from the beginning. They were a calming force that helped us through a process we thought we could take on ourselves, and then realized very quickly we could not do without Gray, Gray & Gray.”

What put the Stulls at ease was the methodical, yet thoughtful and considerate approach that is part of every FuelExchange™ engagement. “Aside from the huge skill set in negotiation, financing and valuation, it really came down to the personal touch that GGG offered,” says Rhyle. “Marty was so easy to get in touch with, answered our questions completely, and calmed us down when we were having ‘one of those days.’”

In addition to having “a great personal relationship right from the get-go,” Marty and Joe brought specific skills to the transaction process, starting with the right approach to value the business. “You have a number in your head as a business owner,” Rhyle acknowledged, but she and Gary were unsure of the price they should set, or even how much they would need to emerge from the sale with sufficient funds for the next phase of their lives. “They were able to break everything down,” says Rhyle.

Gary and Rhyle were impressed by the approach to marketing their company, including the way FuelExchange™ identified and assessed potential target buyers. “They let us be in control of who got the information about our business,” recalls Rhyle, an important consideration.

Marty and Joe were intimately involved in every phase of the process, to the point of them making a trip to Pennsylvania to meet with a potential buyer. This included “hand holding through the pros and cons of each offer,” says Rhyle. The Stulls were both impressed by the way the team helped navigate the sale process, including their negotiating skills when it came down to the final buyers. The result was a successful sale to Button Oil & Propane, another family-owned enterprise in an overlapping market area.

“Without FuelExchange™ I know we would not have been able to navigate this process,” adds Rhyle. “From the legal aspect to the negotiating to the marketing, there are innumerable ways they helped us.”

“We knew this time we were at the right spot,” says Rhyle Stull. “A connection with Gray, Gray & Gray is one you will not be disappointed in. They are basically the whole package – the financial expertise, the handholding. I can’t say enough about our experience with them.”

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