ChevronTexaco Stung by Independent’s Jabs


Garry Rooney says he hadnt heard whether ChevronTexaco planned to maintain Texaco lubricant brands. Now he knows.

Rooney, the former president of 76 Lubricants, last year started his own company, North American Lubricants Co., described as a hybrid cooperative-broker supplying automotive lubes to installers. In February, the company mailed a promotional postcard showing a mock-up of a fictitious newspaper with a headline that declared: Chevron and Texaco Merge and Texaco Name to Go Away.

The message of the mailing, which went to 1,500 quick-lube operators across the United States, was that installers face uncertain times that may make it opportune for them to switch to a supplier offering cheaper prices.

Rooney says now that he and North Americans advertising firm considered it reasonable to say the Texaco brand would go away because they had not heard of definitive plans for Texaco lube brands since Chevron and Texaco merged late last year.

Rooney soon did hear. Chevron Products Co. Senior Counsel John K. Wyma sent an April 11 letter contending that the company had made it abundantly clear through numerous marketing channels and media advertising that ChevronTexaco is committed to maintaining and growing the value of the Texaco, Havoline and Xpress Lube brands…. It called North Americans headline an absolute falsehood and deceptive marketing and demanded a retraction.

Two weeks later, North American sent follow-up letters to operators that received the mailing.

Chevron feels the postcard we sent to you represents an unfair method of competition and could seriously injure both their current and future sales activities, the letter said. In 2001 they had $97.8 billion in sales.

It goes on to state that North American meant no harm to ChevronTexaco, that it merely wanted to offer 25-50 percent savings on bulk oil costs. It advises operators to contact ChevronTexaco for more information about long term plans for Texaco and Xpress Lube brands.

Wyma could not be reached for comment about the follow-up mailing.

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