Gas station owner’s patience runs dry in downtown Amherst

  • Reynold Gladu, owner of Ren's Mobil for the last 48 years, explains to a customer why he is no longer selling gas, though he will remain open for auto maintenance. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Reynold Gladu, owner of Ren’s Mobil in downtown Amherst for the last 48 years, explains to a customer why he is no longer selling gas, though he will remain open for maintenance. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Reynold Gladu, owner of Ren's Mobil for the last 48 years, talks about his frustration with the large gas companies and why he is no longer going sell gas in Amherst center as a full service station. He will still offer auto maintenance. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Reynold Gladu, owner of Ren’s Mobil in downtown Amherst for the last 48 years, vents his frustration with the large oil companies, which he says are putting profits over people. It’s why he is no longer selling gas, while he will still offer auto maintenance. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Reynold Gladu, owner of Ren's Mobil for the last 48 years, talks about his frustration with the large gas companies and why he is no longer going sell gas in Amherst center as a full service station. He will still offer auto maintenance. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 6/7/2022 7:21:02 PM
Modified: 6/7/2022 7:18:53 PM

AMHERST — For 48 years, through the gas lines of the 1970s to the rising retail prices during wars and after hurricanes, Reynold Gladu has operated a downtown station providing gas in a full-service format.

Gas sales, though, came to an end this month, perhaps permanently, as Gladu and his employees drained the last fuel from the pumps.

The decision to run the tanks dry came, he says, because he could no longer abide by the high gas prices, now topping $5 a gallon in many places, and what he sees as deliberate attempts by oil companies to maximize their profits at the expense of customers.

“I don’t want to be part of it anymore,” Gladu said as he stood in the parking lot of Ren’s Mobil Service at 161 North Pleasant St. Tuesday afternoon, where cardboard signs with “out of gas” written on them are placed above the pumps. “This is the biggest ripoff that ever has  happened to people in my lifetime.”

Gasoline reached an average of $5 a gallon or more in over a dozen U.S. states, including Massachusetts, this week as stockpiles of the fuel remain tight.

Gladu’s decision to no longer offer gas could mean the end of the station he took over in 1973. While continuing to do oil changes, brake repairs and tire installations, among other work on vehicles inhis three garage bays, Gladu acknowledges it is unlikely he will be able to remain open for long without also selling gas.

The last gas he pumped was at $4.75 a gallon for the cheapest grade, and he told his supplier that he would not budge above that. “I’ve tried to keep my prices as fair as can be,” Gladu said.

Over the years, Gladu has made a point of keeping his gas prices lower than competing stations, sometimes minimizing his own profit margins, and he has also fought off changes that were demanded, such as in the early 1990s when Mobil told him he would have to replace the service garage with a convenience store. Community support, including from local schoolchildren, prevented that from happening, and he eventually took over the lease for the property.

“Dealing with Mobil, they don’t think through their pricing policies anymore,” Gladu said. “I’ve served their product, but I refuse to do it anymore, because they’re only getting richer.”

Julie King, operations media manager for ExxonMobil Corp. wrote in an email that the price at the pump is out of her company’s control.

“Service stations are individually owned and price their fuel based on local market competition and other business factors,” King wrote. “Prices at the pump are influenced by the price of crude, and wholesale price of products which fluctuate according to demand and supply factors — such as economic conditions and seasonal factors, fuel production, inventory levels, storage and transportation cost.”

In addition, King noted that the Mobil gas is supplied by a branded wholesaler. Gladu said he deals with a supplier based in Wilbraham.

Still, Gladu said he is standing up for what he believes is right.

“Enough is enough,” Gladu said. “People shouldn’t have to pay these prices to go to work, to go to church, or to do whatever they have to do. It seems like the oil industry is in this together.” 

As customers pull in to fill up their vehicles, they soon realize that they will have to go elsewhere.

“A lot of people are stopping by to offer me their condolences, but I actually feel sorry for them because some of them have been my customers for close to 50 years,” Gladu said.


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