Gerald “Jerry” Nessenson, founder and longtime president of ValvTect Petroleum Products, announced his retirement on Wednesday.
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, 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 an entrepreneur, innovator and marketer, while at Bell Fuels Nessenson developed a multi-state network of private-brand gas stations, truck stops and car washes under the trademarked brands Budget, Save More, U-Save, Bell and Road Pilot.
In 1984, when the Environmental Protection Agency announced the phase-out of lead in gasoline, Nessenson began researching for a replacement.
In 1986, he began marketing ValvTect — named for valve protection — 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, Nessenson purchased the fledging fuel additive product line from Bell Fuels and began marketing the 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 he launched the private-brand ValvTect Marine Fuels, which are specially formulated for marine engines.
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 such giant refiners as Texaco, Chevron and Shell.
ValvTect Marine Fuel is now marketed in more than 40 states by nearly 100 certified ValvTect distributors and nearly 700 certified ValvTect marinas.
ValvTect said it enjoys a market share of more than 50 percent in bluewater marine markets, including Florida, New England and the Great Lakes region.
“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 said in a statement.