The Giroux Energy office on Warren Avenue in Portland will remain in operation following the sale of the business to Dead River Company, but in time will take on its new owner’s identity. Michael Kelley / The Forecaster

Giroux Energy Solutions of Portland, a family-run company for more than 60 years, is now owned by another company with Maine roots, Dead River Company.

“Careful consideration was given to this decision,” General Manager Steve Giroux wrote in Aug. 11 letter to customers. “As a 112-year-old business with deep Maine roots, Dead River Company has an outstanding reputation for caring about their customers, employees and the communities they serve. These are the same values Giroux Energy shares, and the reason why we chose to join Dead River Company.”

Existing Giroux service plans will be honored thorough the end of their contracts and staff will stay on as the companies transition through the merger.

Giroux Energy got its start in August 1959, when Wilfred Giroux Sr. left his job at another oil business to open his own. The company originally operated out of the family’s Walton Street home and is now headquartered on Warren Avenue. It has been passed down over the years and the third Giroux generation is now now running the company.

Dead River, founded in 1909 as a wood products company, got into the oil business in the 1930s, shortly after acquiring a small heating oil company and four gas stations in 1936. Now headquartered in South Portland, it is one of the largest fuel suppliers in northern New England.

For more than 100 years, Dead River Company was owned by the descendants of founder Charles Hutchins, but is now owned by Redwood Capital Investments, a family-owned holding company. Dead River was “honored when Giroux Energy approached us about combining the two companies,” said Lisa Morrisette, director of marketing and communications.

Morrissette wouldn’t disclose how many customers Dead River Company is picking up from Giroux or how many customers it has statewide, but indicated the company has the capacity to serve them all.

“Dead River Company has the largest storage capacity for both propane and heating oil in the state,” she said. “This ensures all of our customers, both existing customers and new customers, always have a reliable security of supply.”

Giroux joins a growing list of regional heating fuel companies owned by Dead River Company, which has acquired more than 50 companies over the last 25 years, including Crowley Energy in Brunswick in 2018; Breggy Oil, another family-run company in Portland in 2017, and the residential heating oil side of Webber Energy Fuels in 2012.

While Giroux approached Dead River Company about the merger, Morrissette said “Dead River Company is open to and interested in the right acquisition opportunities.”

Fuel oil remains the most common way households in the Northeast heat their homes. According to the  U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Maine State Energy Profile, three-fifths of Maine’s households use fuel oil as their primary energy source for home heating, which, in 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s estimate, was 344,425 households.

Nationwide, the use of fuel oil for heating is much less common, with approximately only 7% relying on the heating source. In fact, the Energy Information Administration reports in 2019, residential consumers in the Northeast used roughly 2.9 billion gallons of heating oil, equal to about 86% of total U.S. residential heating oil sales.

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