Gerald (Jerry) Nessenson, founder and longtime president of ValvTect Petroleum Products, has announced his retirement from ValvTect this week.
After attending DePauw University on a football scholarship and serving in the Marines, Nessenson began his 50 year career in the petroleum industry with Texaco in 1966. In 1969 he joined Bell Fuels (Bell), then a small Chicago heating oil distributor, to expand Bell into the emerging private brand gasoline and diesel fuel market. While serving as vice president he helped build Bell into one of the largest gasoline, diesel fuel and lubricant distributors in the United States at that time.
Known as a consummate entrepreneur, innovator and marketer, while at Bell Fuels Nessenson developed a multi-state network of private brand gas stations, truckstops and car washes under the trademarked brands Budget, Save More, U-Save, Bell and Road Pilot and became one of the first nonrefiner fuel distributors to ship gasoline and diesel fuel through pipelines from the Gulf Coast to the Midwest.
He developed a multi-state wholesale fuel and private brand lubricant business, became one of the first blenders of ethanol (then called Gasohol) in the U.S. and importer of ethanol and methanol from Brazil. Additionally, Bell became the first independent supplier of aviation gasoline and jet fuel to small and large airports, such as Chicago’s O’Hare airport.
During the oil embargos of the 1970s, Nessenson pioneered the exchange of crude oil for refined gasoline and diesel fuel with major refiners to keep Bell’s customers supplied when most other suppliers were short or completely out of fuel. He was the first marketer of ASTM 1K grade kerosene in the U.S. and developed a national network of branded Certified Super K1™ distributors. In the late 1970s Jerry converted one of the first gas stations in the Chicago area into a C store and opened one of the first self-service stations in Illinois. In 1983 he helped design, build and operate the largest gas station built in the United States at the time.
In 1984 when the U.S. EPA announced the phase out of lead in gasoline Mr. Nessenson began researching for a replacement (substitute) for lead. In 1986, he began marketing ValvTect (named for valve protection) Lead Substitute additive to Bell’s gasoline distributors who supplied marinas, farms and older automobiles that needed an anti-wear additive like lead.
In 1987, although few fuel distributors used fuel additives at the time, Jerry purchased the fledging fuel additive product line from Bell Fuels and began marketing ValvTect Lead Substitute additive to gasoline distributors on a nationwide basis. Because major brand refiners did not allow distributors to add fuel additives to their branded gasoline, eventually Jerry launched the private- brand ValvTect Marine Fuels that are “Specially Formulated for Marine Engines” for the marine market. In 2004, when ethanol was found to cause problems in marine engines, under Nessenson’s leadership, ValvTect developed ValvTect Ethanol Gasoline Treatment which is formulated to prevent ethanol fuel related problems.
Nessenson’s strategy was to sell ValvTect fuel additives through a network of certified ValvTect distributors who would purchase unbranded gasoline and diesel fuel from refiners and market them as ValvTect Marine Fuels through a network of Certified ValvTect Marinas. That meant competing against the giant refiners such as Texaco, Chevron and Shell. ValvTect Marine Fuel is now marketed in over 40 states by nearly 100 Certified ValvTect Distributors and nearly 700 Certified ValvTect Marinas. ValvTect enjoys a market share of over 50 percent in the blue water marine markets such as Florida, New England, Great Lakes, etc.
Shortly after introducing ValvTect Lead Substitute the company developed improved antigel/deicer and premium diesel additives for diesel fuel under the Diesel Guard™ brand. Soon ValvTect became the supplier to many of the nation’s largest fleets as well as thousands of fleets supplied through its hundreds of Certified Diesel Guard Distributors on a nationwide basis. Over the next few years, under Nessenson’s leadership, ValvTect expanded its product line and trademarked marketing programs AgriGuard (for farms), ThermoGuard (for heating oil) and BioGuard (micro-biocide) and became a supplier for engine manufacturers’ private label products. Now over 1 billion gallons of gasoline, diesel fuel and heating oil are formulated annually with ValvTect fuel additives and supplied by hundreds of ValvTect and Diesel Guard branded distributors in nearly every state in the U.S.
When asked about ValvTect’s success Jerry gives a lot of credit to the Kop-Coat division of RPM
International Inc. to whom he sold ValvTect Petroleum to in 1991 and “provided the financial and moral support when things were tough” he said. “I also give credit and a sincere thank you to my committed team of ValvTect employees; some who joined ValvTect as far back as the late 1980s and the early 1990s."
As part of a predetermined succession plan Mr. Nessenson retired from ValvTect’s day to day operations in June 2014 to expand ValvTect through acquisitions, enjoy his passion for boating and spend more time with his daughters Melissa and Julie.
In October 2015, he led the acquisition of Energy Additives Inc. the nation’s leading propane additive
manufacturer and propane filtration supplier, which expanded ValvTect into the propane/LPG market.
On the non-business front, Nessenson is active in the Wounded Warriors Project, Heart of a Marine Foundation, Semper Fi Fund and Red Cross. He served three terms as president of the City of Hope Pilot Research Hospital’s petroleum council. He served on the board of directors of the Association of Marina Industries (AMI), vice president of the Chicago Petroleum Club, served on the boards and various committees of the Midwest Petroleum Marketers Association (MPMA), Illinois Petroleum Marketer Association (IPMA), National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers (SIGMA).
Most recently, Nessenson formed the consulting firm of NESS Petroleum Marketer Solutions Company to help petroleum marketers develop and implement strategic growth, sales and marketing plans.
To sum up his 50 years in the petroleum industry Nessenson simply said, “I believe I am one of the
most fortunate persons in the world to have had the opportunity to do the thing I love, in the industry I love and with the people I love for the past 50 years and the last 30 years with ValvTect Petroleum."
Nessenson can be reached at 847-687-0362 and by email at email@example.com.