Longtime Family Firm Goes Corporate

Sold on Friday to the Star Group
New dark-blue vans could already been seen in the former Schenck Fuels parking lot last week after the company was bought by Petro Home Services for an undisclosed sum. David E. Rattray

Schenck Fuels Services, a family-owned East Hampton company that has provided fuel oil and home heating services to residents of the town since 1902, was sold on Friday to the Star Group, a publicly traded corporation based in Stamford, Conn. The terms of the sale were not disclosed.

Through its subsidiary Petro Home Services, the Star Group provides home heating products and services to residential and commercial customers from Maine to Georgia, including multiple towns on Long Island. Anthony Silecchia, a vice president of operations and acquisitions for the Star Group, said Schenck Fuels’ commitment to its community had made it an attractive acquisition. “The customers are neighbors, and that’s the kind of business that fits with us,” he said. 

Chris Schenck and Rodney Herrlin, the owners of Schenck Fuels, will no longer be involved with the company, he said. Neither responded to requests for an interview. Joseph McDonald, a senior vice president of sales and marketing at the Star Group, said customers could expect business as usual. “There won’t be much of a transition. We want to keep the business running as is,” he said. The new owner, he said, is also planning to invest more resources in the company.

Percy Christian Schenck, the founder of Schenck Fuels, which was originally known as P.C. Schenck and Sons Fuel Oil, started out by expanding a grain and coal supply concern that had been started by his father. Percy Schenck passed control of the company to his son Kennell Schenck Sr., and the business was subsequently run by family members, including Kennell (Fritz) Schenck Jr., his sister, Susan, and her husband, Dick Herrlin. 

“I am the fifth generation to own and operate this legacy,” wrote Mr. Herrlin in a post on a LinkedIn profile. “We have survived two world wars, the Great Depression, the recent recession, and an internal theft problem that would have devastated many.” The theft, in 2011, was the embezzlement of nearly half a million dollars by the company’s bookkeeper.

A representative of the Star Group confirmed on Tuesday that there would be no interruption in service for existing customers, who, she said, would receive details about the new owner by the end of the month. There will be one noteworthy change, however, at the business’s headquarters on Percy’s Way. The company, she said, will no longer sell gas on site.

A selection of Schenck advertisements that appeared in The Star between 1918 and the 1960s.