PetroChoice Buys Universal’s Finished Lubes Biz


Universal Lubricants sold its lubes manufacturing business and sales network to distributor PetroChoice and carved out its rerefining, used oil and environmental services segment into new separate companies, RS Used Oil Services, Inc. and Midstate Environmental Services.

PetroChoice, a jobber based in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, announced yesterday that it had completed the purchase of Universals new oil business from private equity firm Pegasus Capital Advisors for an undisclosed sum. The deal includes Universals blending facilities and laboratory, along with its 15 distribution locations. PetroChoice provided these details in a press release but did not respond to further questions by deadline.

Wichita, Kansas-based Universal Lubricants also owned an 800-barrel per day API Group II base oil rerefinery and a used oil collection network, along with an industrial segment providing parts washing, vacuum truck care, wastewater treatment and related services. That side of Universal now functions separately under two names. Midstate Environmental Services handles all Texas locations from its headquarters in Hutchins, while RS Used Oil Services, Inc. – based in Wichita, at the site of the refinery and Universal blending plant – operates the refinery and all other branches, which are scattered throughout the middle of the country.

Universal Lubricants, as a PetroChoice company…will now focus exclusively on lubricant blending, distribution and laboratory services, read Universal Lubricants website, which was revamped this week. Pegasus partner Andrew Cooper serves as Universals CEO, and Rick Palmore has been made vice president of sales.

PetroChoice made the purchase with backing from private investment firm Golden Gate Capital. PetroChoice has acquired a number of lubricants distributors in recent years, expanding its geographical reach across a large swath of the east and adding locations ranging from Miami, Florida, to Grand Forks, North Dakota. The Universal acquisition spreads its network farther west to its westernmost point of Denver, Colorado.

Graphic: Fotolia

The company distributes a wide range of lubricants products for an array of suppliers, including Castrol, Shell, Valvoline and ExxonMobil.

Consultant Geeta S. Agashe, president of Geeta Agashe & Associates LLC, told Lube Report that PetroChoices acquisitions may be part of a larger trend in U.S. lube jobber consolidations. The big distributors are becoming bigger and having a larger geographic footprint – enjoying greater economies of scale – and the number of lubricant jobbers/distributors have reduced significantly over the last decade. The oil majors have helped this phenomenon by many of them moving to a mega distributor model.

George Gill contributed to this report.