Time on PetroSun West's Side

Published in CSP Daily News

New consolidator sets tone with 95-store acquisition in the Northwest

By  Steve Holtz, Online News Director & Beverage Editor

SEATTLE -- PetroSun West LLC isn't exactly a new company, but the Seattle-based firm is using its purchase of 95 convenience stores from Time Oil Co.as reported exclusively in a CSP Daily News Flash yesterdayas its official coming out.

Absolutely, said Sam Hirbod, president of PetroSun West. This is a transaction that we're hoping to use as a platform to catapult ourselves into many different portfolios.

The company, the creation of four partners who each have their own businesses in the industry, previously purchased [image-nocss] about 250 stores from ConocoPhillips in the Northwest and the Phoenix market, quickly turning them for a profit. Now, however, the unit has decided to get into the operations side of the business, with a goal of being the largest operator in the West.

Collectively between us, we probably have 50 years experience in the industry. I've been in the industry 12 years, said Hirbod, who also owns Bed Rock Oil in Seattle. [The PetroSun West partners] are aggressively looking to grow in our industry, both on the West Coast and the East Coast. We have a lot of portfolios lined up [to review for possible purchases]. We're looking for portfolios of mid-sized companies with 50 or more sites.

The purchase of most of Time Oil Co.'s Time Oil Food Marts and Jackpot c-stores made for the appropriate launching point, he said.

There are a lot of good assets in Time Oil, Hirbod said. Time Oil has a very, very rich history. We're hoping to bring it up to today's standards. The thing in the portfolio that really caught our eye was the quality of assets; the quality of their dirt is very, very good. They just need a little freshening up, a little tender-loving care, and we're going to put the dollars into those stores to bring them up to the standards that we think they deserve to be at.

The 95 stores are spread out over the four western states of Washington, Oregon, California and Nevada. Hirbod said PetroSun West's stores will fly the flags of several major-oil companies. The consolidator has yet to determine which store brand or brands it may use.

For Time Oil, the sale was a matter of the time being right to exit the retailing industry, according to Richard Gordon, general counsel of the Seattle-based company.

We're a private company, and based on a number of factors, it was a good time to do it now. So management decided to proceed, Gordon told CSP Daily News.

One year ago, Time Oil hired an outside agency to help it determine the future direction of the company. The result was this month's sale, which closed Nov. 15 and effectively takes Time Oil out of retailing.

Gordon said the company has about a dozen stores left in its portfolio, and those too will be sold.

We've closed the gasoline at those stores and will gradually be selling those off as well, he said. We are essentially out of the gasoline business, out of the fuel business at this point.

Gordon said the company doesn't take exiting the retailing business lightly. We have been in this business for just about as long as anyone has, he said, and around here, it certainly feels like the end of an era. And I suppose the beginning of something new; we'll have to see what that is.

For now, Time Oil essentially stands as a landlord company, serving the needs of its various tenants. Time Oil has a number of miscellaneous properties that it's a landowner of. So it's primarily a property company at this point in time, Gordon said. We're in the process of changing our corporate name from Time Oil Co. to TOC Holdings Co. That really reflects our remaining business, which is primarily as landlord.

PetroSun West LLC is not connected with Scottsdale, Ariz.-based PetroSun, an upstream energy company specializing in the discovery and development of traditional fossil fuels and renewable energy resources, and title sponsor of college football's Independence Bowl.

By Steve Holtz, Online News Director & Beverage Editor
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