Petro Pontiac started because of a truck.
Gary Graham ran the feed mill in Quyon, which had an oil truck. “It was an Ultramar franchise,” he remembers. “I started delivering a little bit of farm fuel around there.”
He eventually sold to M & R Feeds, but kept the truck. “In 1990, I moved it to Shawville and called it Petro Pontiac. Our office was in the basement below Bernie’s Barber Shop.”
Gary started with Peter Smith and Aurèle Paquette, but Gary stayed with the business the longest. The office next moved down to Highway 148, in the little strip mall near Atkinson’s Bar.
“Most of the business for the first few years was mainly in Fort-Coulonge and Chapeau and we gave a special discount for the union at the mill,” says Gary. “The first five years, I was delivery boy and whatever you needed, buying of the oil and selling of it. We didn’t fix furnaces, but had Charlie Sylvester and Trevor Stewart, they were private contractors. When the furnace broke down, you called us and we would call Trevor, that’s how it worked.”
“When Jerry Barber came on board, we picked up a whole bunch of business in the Shawville area” adds Gary. “Five years after, I retired. Jerry and I bought the property where Petro Pontiac is now and put in two or three little tanks, and a year later, Jerry built the building and the rest is history.”
Gary is now onto his retirement job. He has a hand in the family business of Coronation Hall in Bristol, which has been running for six years.
Before Jerry Barber joined Petro Pontiac, he was working at Fraser’s Clothing Store, a business he began working at when he was only 16 and he eventually managed too. The location on Main Street disappeared in the 2000s and is now the office for CEDEC.
“I was 30 years at Fraser’s and I guess I was tired,” says Jerry, now the owner of Petro Pontiac. “When Gary asked me to come to Petro Pontiac, it was interesting, a new challenge and something to do.”
Jerry made the move in 1998. “When I started, there were five or six hundred customers and today there are 3000 different accounts,” he says. “We do business from Chapeau to Alymer.”
There are services from tank installation, duct cleaning, furnace oil, diesel, and arranging of propane delivery and lubricants, motor oil and hydraulic oil for sale.
“For the different options we provide to heat your home, furnace oil is the popular choice in our area,” says Jerry. “But propane is also an affordable choice and can be selected for furnaces to fireplaces. Propane also has agricultural and commercial uses.”
“We are good at what we do,” says Jerry with a laugh. “We give personal attention and service. We care for our customers, return phone calls and our speed of delivery. Our business has certainly increased with Jason Campbell and furnace maintenance.”
Jason joined in 2009. There are three other employees, Cedric Judd (2014) and John Draper (2006) who drive the trucks. Jerry’s son, Ryan (2006) runs the office and deals with the majority of the phone calls and problems, as the volume of business increases as the winter season gets closer.
The work has been recognized, as a finalist from the Pontiac Chamber of Commerce for a Feature Award in Customer Service.
The office on Highway 148 is open five days a week, but Jerry is on call 24 hours, 7 days a week, so customers don’t get stuck. “If someone calls my cell phone, I answer it. It’s all part of the business.”
Jerry has no major plans to expand, just maintain the services and the customers they look after. “We want people to have faith in their fuel supplier and their home heat supplier.”
By: Scott Campbell