"A Substantial Offer"

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"A Substantial Offer"

AKRON, Ohio -- The absence of a third-generation successor to carry on the family business was a major factor in Holland Oil Co.’s decision to be bought by Canadian c-store chain Alimentation Couche-Tard, The Akron Beacon Journal reported.

Before he died in 1998, founder Chuck Holland set up a plan to pass along the company to a second generation. His wife, Anne, took over as president. She died in 2004. In recent years, the company has been led by daughter Lisa Holland Toth, president; Lynn Gorman, senior vice president; and Mike Toth, son-in-law.

"From the long-term standpoint, we had to look at how succession would occur," said Toth, senior vice president of Holland Oil. "Unfortunately, we really didn't see a successor into the third generation. Our children are either pursuing other careers or are very young, and it became evident to us that we would either have to develop an internal professional management or a sale strategy."

As reported by CSNews Online Friday, Couche-Tard, through its indirect wholly-owned subsidiary, Mac's Convenience Stores LLC, signed an agreement to purchase the 54 stores in Ohio from Holland Oil. All 54 convenience stores are currently company-operated under the Holland Oil and Close to Home banners.

If the transactions closes as planned in September 2006, Couche-Tard's network in the Midwest division will include a total of 692 stores. The acquisition will add sales of approximately $325 million to Couche-Tard's revenues, the company said. The transaction is subject to standard regulatory approvals and closing conditions.

"Strategically, these acquisitions would be excellent complements to our current network in the Midwest and would efficiently complement the network expansion plans," said Darrell Davis, vice-president operations, Midwest division.

Toth said Couche-Tard came calling earlier this year and made "a substantial offer."

A key part of the deal, he said, was making sure the company's 650 employees are taken care of. The Toths and Gorman will leave the company after the deal is complete. No completion date was given, The Akron Beacon Journal said.

"It is their intent...that they are going to take our retail personnel intact, that our people will earn comparable salaries, receive comparable benefits and their tenure with Holland Oil will be recognized as far as benefit eligibility," Toth said.

"The family is very sad about this," he added. "This has been part of the family identity and part of the personal identities...But we are also pleased that we will be able to make a move that is good for a majority of our employees and the community."

Toth praised Chuck Holland for seeing into the future and making smart business decisions. Holland was the first to see the future of tire stores and became a major player in that business in the Akron area. When radial tires made winter tires less important, he saw how convenience stores with gasoline stations could work together.

The purchase of Holland Oil includes the land and buildings that make up the 54 stores.

A fuel transportation part of the business was not included.

"There is a person who is looking at buying our transport operation," Toth told the newspaper. "We are confident that will happen."