AMHERTST, Mass. — Crippling prices at the pump have prompted a Massachusetts gas station owner to let the last fuel from his tanks run dry.
Reynold Gladu, who has operated Ren's Mobil Service for 48 years, said he made the decision because he could no longer abide by high gas prices, noting that what he sees are deliberate attempts by oil companies to maximize their profits at the expense of customers, reported The Daily Hampshire Gazette.
"I don't want to be part of it anymore," Gladu told the news outlet. "This is the biggest rip-off that ever has happened to people in my lifetime."
Gladu's decision to no longer offer gas could mean the end of the station he took over in 1973. While continuing to do oil changes, brake repairs and tire installations, among other work on vehicles in his three garage bays, Gladu said it is unlikely he will be able to remain open for long without also selling gas.
The last gas the owner pumped was at $4.75 per gallon for the cheapest grade. Gladu told his supplier that he would not budge above that price.
"I've tried to keep my prices as fair as can be," he explained.
Gladu has made it a point to keep his gas prices lower than competing stations, sometimes minimizing his own profit margins. He has also fought off changes that were demanded, according to The Daily Hampshire Gazette, including an incident in the early 1990s when Mobil told him he would have to replace the service garage with a convenience store. With the support of the community, Gladu eventually took over the lease for the property.
"Dealing with Mobil, they don't think through their pricing policies anymore," he said. "I've served their product, but I refuse to do it anymore, because they're only getting richer," he said.
"Enough is enough. People shouldn't have to pay these prices to go to work, to go to church, or to do whatever they have to do. It seems like the oil industry is in this together," he added. "A lot of people are stopping by to offer me their condolences, but I actually feel sorry for them because some of them have been my customers for close to 50 years."
Julie King, operations media manager for ExxonMobil Corp., wrote in an email that the price at the pump is out of her company's control.
"Service stations are individually owned and price their fuel based on local market competition and other business factors," King wrote. "Prices at the pump are influenced by the price of crude, and wholesale price of products which fluctuate according to demand and supply factors — such as economic conditions and seasonal factors, fuel production, inventory levels, storage and transportation cost."
The media manager also noted the Mobil gas is supplied by a branded wholesaler. Gladu said he deals with a supplier based in Wilbraham, Mass.
As Convenience Store News previously reported, the national average of $5.01 is 15 cents more than one week ago, 58 cents more than a month ago, and $1.94 more than one year ago. It is the highest recorded national average price of gas since AAA began collecting pricing data in 2000, according to the association.