Norfolk-based Millers Energy, which operates 22 Millers convenience stores from Virginia Beach to Manassas in the state of Virginia, has purchased Johns Brothers Oil, Heating and Air Conditioning. According to Norfolk’s The Virginian-Pilot newspaper, the acquisition of the longtime market competitor could double Millers sales market.
“We’ve admired the Johns Brothers leadership for years,” Jeff Miller, president of Millers Energy, told The Virginian-Pilot. “Everyone agreed that the best way to serve our residential oil and heating and air conditioning customers would be to combine our efforts.”
The company did not disclose the acquisition price.
Johns Brothers’ started as a coal and wood business in Norfolk in 1892, entering the electronic security business in the 1970s. The security component will continue as a separate business.
Many heating oil companies entered the HVAC installation, repair and maintenance business to make up for a drop in demand for heating oil. Miller expects a smooth transition, especially for the company’s customers who shouldn’t notice any change in service, with the exception of company branding on vehicles, marketing and online presence.
Millers Energy was founded in 1977 by Miller’s father, Augustus “Gus” Miller, with the purchase of Exxon Company USA’s home heating oil business in Norfolk. Gus Miller had been working for Exxon when it decided to get out of that business, Miller said.
The company took on more air conditioning work in the 1980s and then about six years ago, wanted to expand its offerings to all forms of heating and air conditioning focusing on home comfort, Miller said. Millers’ HVAC sales, installation and service tripled its growth over the past five years.
Miller told The Virginian-Pilot that the purchase of Johns Brothers gives the company the ability to service nearly any home heating system. Millers will still serve heating oil customers but can also offer the opportunity to switch their systems to gas or heat pumps, he said.
The larger customer base coming with the acquisition enables the Millers to use economies of scale to guarantee supply and hopefully pass on some savings to customers.