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Published: 3/19/2010

Fuel supplier to leave Toledo for new site

BY GARY T. PAKULSKI
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Geoff Lyden, chief executive of Lyden Co., says the firm will move to the Cleveland area by summer of 2011. Geoff Lyden, chief executive of Lyden Co., says the firm will move to the Cleveland area by summer of 2011.
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Since moving to Toledo in the late 1970s, Geoff Lyden has grown his company into a $1.5 billion-a-year business, with 320 gas stations between Cleveland and Chicago.

But now Lyden Co. and its sister firm, True North Energy LLC, are making plans to leave their headquarters on Airport Highway for the Cleveland suburbs.

"I have 11 stores in this market," Mr. Lyden, chief executive, explained. "We have over 100 in metro Cleveland. … This is my smallest market in the state."

The company, which employs 25 people at its headquarters, will break ground this summer on a 22-acre site in Brecksville, 13 miles south of Cleveland.

The building will be completed in summer 2011. The move will occur gradually over the next three years as the company transfers about 50 employees to Brecksville from offices in Youngstown, Cleveland, and Toledo, Mr. Lyden said.

The decision followed True North's purchase of 109 stations in the Chicago area from Shell Oil Products U.S. The purchase price wasn't disclosed.

True North, owned equally by Mr. Lyden's firm and Shell, was established in 1999 to own or supply gas stations in Ohio and southeast Michigan.

The addition of the Chicago stations "will grow the joint venture by 50 percent as well as double our real estate holdings," Mr. Lyden said.

True North employs 1,000 people company-wide. The move does not affect Lyden Oil Co. of Northwood, owned separately by members of Mr. Lyden's family.

Mr. Lyden, who plans to maintain an office in Toledo, described his company as the largest of Shell's 500 fuel distributors.

True North directly operates about a third of the stores and supplies fuel to the remainder.

Lyden Co., which switched to Shell from Amoco when it merged with BP Oil in the late 1990s, was founded 90 years ago in Youngstown.

Mr. Lyden, 57, was sent to Toledo in the 1970s to oversee the family company's gas stations in western Ohio. While here, he met and married a local woman.

Company headquarters remained in Youngstown until 1995, when Mr. Lyden transferred it to Toledo.

Steve Weathers, president of Toledo's Regional Growth Partnership, said he was not familiar with the firm or its plan to leave Toledo.

The partnership has focused its efforts in Lucas County on attracting new firms, while leaving the job of retaining businesses to the Lucas County Improvement Corp.

Ford Weber, president of the Lucas County Improvement Corp., could not be reached for comment.

Contact Gary Pakulski at:

gpakulski@theblade.com

or 419-724-6082.



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