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From small family venture to big family firm (9 photos)

McDougall Energy, the subject of this week’s Mid-Week Mugging, grew from a home-based Thessalon business to a Sault-based company, now employing 400 province wide

McDougall Energy’s story has been one of 'energetic' growth over the years.

The Sault-based company, the subject of this week’s Mid-Week Mugging, can trace its roots to 1945, when Allan McDougall began his career in the petroleum business, working with Imperial Oil in Timmins.

In 1949, Allan and his family moved to Thessalon, where he founded McDougall Fuels and became the regional Esso agent. 

“Our mother worked in our basement where the office was, people used to go to our grandparents house to pay the bill before we had a physical location, so there’s been a lot of good change over the years,” said Jennifer McDougall, human resources director.

Jennifer, along with brothers Darren (president) and Chris (vice president of pricing and distribution), form the third generation of McDougalls to own and operate the company.

Now based in the Sault’s Station Tower, McDougall Energy (the company name was changed to McDougall Energy from McDougall Fuels in 2008) employs people province wide.

McDougall Energy is a marketer and distributor of heating oil, propane, gasoline, diesel fuel and commercial lubricants, and is also an Esso retailer. 

“Now we’re at around 400 employees (approximately 150 here in the Sault), through a lot of growth and acquisitions…it’s been the employees who have been with us who have gotten us to where we are today as part of the great organization we have, and we appreciate all they do for us,” Jennifer said. 

However, Jennifer emphasized McDougall has gone from a small family firm “to a big family firm,” steering away from the term ‘corporation.’

“That’s what’s stayed the same, the feel and the culture. Even though we’ve grown, the family atmosphere has stayed,” said Brandon Hazelton, marketing and communications coordinator.

“I came here two years ago, but everyone here embraces the family culture and works within it day to day, they treat it like it’s their family business as well…it’s a great job” smiled Marla Guzzo, brand and marketing director.

Allan McDougall ran the company until his retirement in 1972, his son Bryan and wife Joy taking over operations.

Bryan introduced home heating products and services into the McDougall Fuels line of products and services.

Bryan and Joy began to expand the company further, doubling the size of McDougall Fuels by amalgamating with a similar company in Blind River.

In 1987 McDougall Fuels became an Esso Reseller, buying existing agencies, including the Sault office, from Imperial Oil.

McDougall Fuels continued to expand over the years, buying agencies in Elliot Lake and Chapleau and adding to their propane business line.

In 2007 McDougall Fuels purchased operations in Red Lake, British Columbia and Timmins/Cochrane. A new office was also established in Little Current, serving Manitoulin Island. 

In 2008 McDougall Fuels Limited changed its name to McDougall Energy and became the Esso Branded Reseller for Toronto and the surrounding area, serving Esso heating fuel customers.

In addition, McDougall Fuels recently received the honour of being named a Platinum Club Member of Canada’s Best Managed Companies. 

The award is given to businesses who have maintained their Best Managed status for seven years or more, ‘recognizing the best-in-class of Canadian-owned and managed companies demonstrating strategy, capability, and commitment to achieve sustainable growth,’ stated a McDougall Energy news release March 8, 2018.  

“It makes us feel very proud. We all still work together, which is great, and under the leadership of my brother Darren as president, we’ve been able to grow our business a lot. There have been a lot of proud moments for us over the years and as we continue to grow hopefully there will be a few more,” Jennifer McDougall said.

“We’re absolutely looking to continue that growth,” Jennifer said with a smile.

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Darren Taylor

About the Author: Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor is a news reporter and photographer in Sault Ste Marie. He regularly covers community events, political announcements and numerous board meetings. With a background in broadcast journalism, Darren has worked in the media since 1996.
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