A tentative deal has been struck to sell Fred Fuller Oil to Rymes Propane and Oil. The agreement is a step in the right direction for the 2,000 Fuller prepay customers who are wondering where their money went and if they'll get what they paid for.
"If the deal is approved, you're going to get your fuel and the service that you need," said John Rymes, the Vice President of Rymes Propane and Oil.
Rymes and his two brothers have agreed to purchase all of Fuller's assets and fulfill the company's obligations to their customers who have already paid for this winter's oil. The deal also involves supplier, Sprague Energy, which agreed to sell the fuel Rymes needs to service those customers at no profit.
"It was a group effort, we worked together through the night," Rymes said about negotiations on Friday. "It was an all nighter, it started at 4:30 p.m. and ended at 4:30 a.m."
Sprague Energy issued a statement to NECN Sunday afternoon saying, "Sprague is pleased a tentative deal was reached to bring this matter closer to an end. We look forward to working with Rymes in coming days to ensure there is no interruption in service to their new customers and that pre-buy customers receive the fuel they are depending on to keep warm."
Fuller's problems started last winter, according to the company's attorney Bill Gannon, when a phone system failure caused delivery delays for many of its nearly 30,000 customers.
In a statement regarding the tentative deal, Fuller's Chief Restructuring Officer Jeff Varsalone wrote, in part, "This agreement ensures that the business operations of the Company will continue, uninterrupted, and a substantial number of jobs will be preserved."
"I think the most challenging thing will be convincing heating oil customers that they can trust their heating oil supplier," Rymes said.
Rymes' father started the business 45 years ago in Antrim, NH. He says if this deal gets the necessary court approval, the Rymes brothers will be proud to add Fuller's fleet of more than 100 trucks to their own.
"That's exactly what we will do is change everything from Fuller to Rymes immediately," he said. "That's our family name and that's what we go by."
Rymes says there is a good chance that some of the 100 Fuller employees will be laid off. He says if the bankruptcy court approves the deal, he'll work to keep that number to a minimum.