Mergers & Acquisitions

True North Energy Acquires Free Enterprises

Retailer picks up 4 c-stores, wholesale fuel and dealer business in Ohio
free enterprises
Photograph courtesy of Free Enterprises

True North Energy LLC has expanded its footprint of stores in Ohio with the acquisition of four convenience stores, the wholesale fuel and dealer business of Free Enterprises Inc., Medina, Ohio.

Two of the Sunoco-branded Freezone stores are in Brunswick, Ohio, and the others are in Litchfield and Medina, Ohio. They feature beer caves.

James H. Patneau Sr. founded Free Enterprises in 1992 as a convenience store, wholesale fuel and oil and lube business. He was initially joined by his son, James H. Patneau Jr., and later by his daughter, Tonia Fisher, in 1996. They took the reins of the company upon his retirement. The company sold the oil and lube sales division in 2013. Soon after, Brian Fisher joined the company as chief financial officer after an 11-year stint with FirstMerit Bank as senior vice president of commercial banking.

President Tonia Fisher said she will miss the excitement, challenges and fast pace of the convenience-store industry, but after 27 years in the business, she felt the time was right to step back and focus on other endeavors.

American Business Brokers & Advisors, Fort Myers Beach, Florida, provided merger-and-acquisition advisory services to Free Enterprises, which included valuation advisory, marketing the business through a confidential process and negotiation of the transaction. Terry Monroe, president, managed the transaction.

  • True North Energy is No. 49 in CSP’s 2023 Top 202 ranking of c-store chains by total number of company-owned retail outlets.

True North Energy, Brecksville, Ohio, was founded in 1999 through a 50/50 partnership between The Lyden family and Shell Oil US. The Lyden family has been in business since 1919, with the third and fourth generations presently at the helm under President Mark Lyden. True North Energy operates convenience-store, transportation, car wash and dealer supply businesses throughout Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin.

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