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Taku Oil Sales purchased by global company

Firm has been owned by a Juneau family since the 1950s

Posted: September 5, 2013 - 4:31pm
MICHAEL PENN | JUNEAU EMPIRE
Taku Oil Sales, Juneau’s only locally owned bulk fuel distributor, was purchased this week by worldwide company Crowley Maritime Corp. It has been operated by the Jacobsen family since 1953.

The papers were signed Tuesday in an acquisition of locally owned Taku Oil Sales Inc. by global fuel company Crowley Maritime Corp.

Taku Oil, run by the Jacobsen family in Juneau since 1953, was the only locally operated bulk fuel sales company in town. The sale is effective immediately.

Taku Oil President Jeff Hansen married into the Jacobsen family and began working for the company in 1987.

“It just seemed like a great opportunity for me to keep the business in the family for a little longer,” he said.

Although the sale of the company is coming at the right time — Hansen had been pondering retirement for a while — it’s still a bit sad to let it go, he said.

“The right opportunity kind of presented itself with Crowley and it seemed like the right thing,” Hansen said. “It’s just kind of, unfortunately, the way things go. It’s hard for a smaller, independent group to keep going.”

However, he said, the new owners are “a really good fit for us.” Crowley will keep Taku Oil’s 13 employees and continue operating the business as it had been under the Jacobsens. Taku Oil will even keep its name.

“Everybody’s planning to stay and continue to work, and that’s how Crowley wants it,” Hansen said. “They’re very much into local-run operations. We have long-term, valuable employees we care a lot about, and Crowley feels the same way.”

Crowley Vice President Bob Cox said the Florida-based, worldwide corporation, which operates 22 fuel terminals across Alaska, acquires smaller companies with an “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” mentality. Crowley aims to change the business as little as possible.

“They’re great people, they’re really committed to the community and they’ve done a great job with the company,” Cox said. “My charge is don’t mess it up.”

Crowley has been working to expand its reach within Alaska, especially in the Southeast region, Cox said. Up until July 1, when the corporation purchased Ketchikan company Anderes Oil, Crowley had no properties in Southeast.

Juneau and Ketchikan “fit into our network that spans the whole state,” Cox said. If the opportunity arose, Crowley would purchase more Southeast businesses, he said. 

State economist Neal Fried said these kinds of buyouts are so common, they’re sometimes not even noticeable.

“That kind of thing is going on continuously,” Fried said. “Sometimes you can’t even tell that it happened — the ownership changes but the name doesn’t change.”

Hansen said buyouts are “the way things are moving in every industry, but especially in the fuel industry.”

Taku Oil operates a 2.5 million-gallon bulk fuel storage terminal, a deep-water marine fuel dock and two service stations in Juneau, according to a Crowley news release. Until the acquisition, Taku Oil was the only one of its kind in town. The two other bulk fuel distributors that operate in Juneau — Petro Marine Services and Delta Western Inc. — are based elsewhere in the state.

Hansen said he’s ready for a new chapter in his life: retirement. He said he plans to spend time with his three children and four grandchildren. Hansen’s two sons work for Taku Oil.

“I’m sincerely hoping we have another summer like this summer so I have the opportunity to enjoy it, not just look out the window from my desk,” he said, laughing.

Hansen said he’ll stay on with the company through the end of the year to help with the transition.

“After that, I’ll start playing,” he said.

Contact reporter Katie Moritz at katherine.moritz@juneauempire.com or at (907)523-2294. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/katecmoritz.

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