WILTON, Maine — An era will come to an end Monday when Carlton Berry, 76, and his son, Andrew Berry, 42, both of Livermore and co-owners of Mt. Blue Agway, close the Agway section of the store on Route 2 in East Wilton.
The store will stay open to take payments and fuel orders for Mt. Blue Oil, which has merged with Fabian Oil Inc. based in Oakland and with an office in Jay, Andrew Berry said.
It will be a seamless transition for customers with no interruption in service, he said.
The Berrys wanted to merge with a family-owned business like theirs. Fabian offers more services than Mt. Blue Oil did, he said. It is possible the oil side of the business will stay open with the potential for opening an office in the Farmington area, he said.
Keenan Auction Co. will hold an auction at the site at 10 a.m. Nov. 11 at the Route 2 site to auction the building and about seven acres, two fuel trucks, equipment and inventory, he said.
Carlton Berry became a partner in the Berry Hill Orchard Co. in 1964 with his five brothers and father, the late Lewis Berry. Soon after, they started the oil business.
“When we started the oil business, I had the first load of Agway oil in the state of Maine,” Carlton Berry said.
They branched out from the Livermore base and opened a business in Farmington in 1972 and then moved to East Wilton. Carlton Berry changed the name to Mt. Blue Agway and Mt. Blue Oil.
His son became an owner in 1999.
“I’ve worked here my whole life,” Andrew Berry said. He started helping out as a child at the orchard company.
Mt. Blue Agway was a John Deere dealer from 1995 until a couple of years ago when it became clear there would be no growth for them in that sector. Dealerships want businesses that have multiple stores, making it harder and harder for smaller, independent owners to compete with box stores, Andrew Berry said.
“The whole future of any business is to get bigger,” he said.
Closing the Agway section and the merging the oil companies is not as hard as he anticipated because all of the employees have been able to find other employment, Carlton Berry said.
General Manager Ryan Bibeau will manage the merger and work for Fabian as a branch manager, Andrew Berry said.
“We try to do things here by employing knowledgeable people who had talents for what we sold,” Berry said. “You can’t pay them minimum wage. You have to pay them for the knowledge they have.”
The employees rely on you, he said.
He has taken a job with the Southern States Cooperative Inc. that owns the rights to the Agway brand. You are not allowed to own an Agway business but work for the cooperative, he said. He will manage the territory in Maine and New Hampshire.
“It was a good opportunity for me,” he said.
Carlton Berry will continue his retirement.
“We want to thank our customers. That has been the best part of the job, serving the public,” he said.
“The relationship you build with your customers is probably what I will miss the most,” Andrew Berry said.
“The employees have been exceptional,” his father said.
For Andrew Berry, there will be no more Saturdays to work. He doesn’t remember the last time he had one off, he said. He also won’t have to worry about business matters and the price of oil and providing benefits.
“When you own your business, you go home at night and you are always thinking about something,” he said.