Out of gas but he's still pumped up over Pawtuxet

Posted

Pat Grogan wears a blue shirt with the words Pawtuxet Sunoco over the left side of his chest. It is one of the few signs of what was one of the village’s long operating service stations. Gone are the gas pumps and the canopy. The sign that still stands reads “Pawtuxet Auto Service.” Sunoco wants it that way; all references to the company are to be gone now that, after 43 years, Grogan isn’t pumping gas any longer.

Grogan was found outside one of the station’s open bays Friday afternoon. He was telling a customer the options he faced following enactment of legislation requiring double-walled underground tanks. He went through it again, saying he could have left things as they were, only he wouldn’t be pumping gas. He could have replaced the tanks or, as he chose to do, unearth the three 8,000-gallon gas tanks and 1,000-gallon holding tank for used oil.

“When they came out of the ground, they could have been hosed off and they would have looked as new as the day they went in,” Grogan said of the three fiberglass tanks he installed in 1986. He never had a leak in any of the tanks. He knows because he daily pulled checks on the tanks and filed that information as required.

Replacing the tanks with new ones, he estimates, could have cost close to $400,000. It didn’t make sense. The return on the sale of gas didn’t justify it, but more than that, he didn’t see a future for the business. His son is a teacher and has no plans of following in his father’s footsteps.

“This is a big man’s game,” he said.

If Grogan is bitter, he doesn’t show it. Being a service station only is a new chapter in what has become an intimate relationship with Pawtuxet. He is upbeat over the prospects.

“It isn’t about the money,” Grogan says of his work, “it’s about being happy going to work and living every day.”

The money side of running the station wasn’t going to make anyone rich. Annual gas sales were about $1.3 million. Grogan found, “I was just passing money on to other people. I was self-employed as an unpaid tax collector.”

On top of payroll and property taxes, he was faced with collecting and paying sales tax and the gasoline tax that is 53 cents a gallon. Loss of the gasoline business – Pawtuxet Sunoco was one of the few remaining full service stations where an employee pumped gas – meant laying off three employees. It’s made for shorter hours and being closed on Sundays. It also means a separation with Sunoco, where he was one of the few “small” players to serve on the company’s member advisory board.

What he can’t lose is the feeling he has as a member of the village.

Grogan grew up in Warwick, graduating from Pilgrim High School. He’s amazed that even today his baseball coach, Tom Mezzanotte, remembers him as a left-handed batter. They stay in touch. And he said if it hadn’t been for Ralph Hoffman, who went on to become principal, he wouldn’t have developed a love for history, which became his major at the University of Rhode Island.

Grogan has seen the village has transitioned from the days of Cameron’s Drug and Lindsay’s Market. He’s encouraged by the businesses in the village.

“The community is getting so much better; there’s more night traffic.” Much of that he attributes to more restaurants and activity. In particular, he cites the efforts of the Friends of Pawtuxet, the Pawtuxet Village Association and the Gaspee Days Committee.

“People see how important businesses are; without them we’re just Broad Street,” he said.

When he started off the village business leaders were longtime members of the community.

“They were all grown men and I’m a kid,” he said.

Now he finds the business has become one of the “anchors” of the village and that he and Walter Rix at Hunter’s Garage at the Warwick end of the bridge are the “cornerstones.”

“We’re the old lions, so to speak,” he says.

By today’s standards, Grogan is not that old. He’s 67.

At some point he would like to sell the business to one of the guys he works with. But there seems to be no rush to do that.

Referring to himself, he said, “You serve the community, and that’s what I like and why I’m still here.”

Comments

6 comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment
Justanidiot

regulations just killed another business. get rid or all these job killing and business regulations.

Now!

Tuesday, November 13
richardcorrente

Dear Justanidiot,

Ditto.

The mortgage industry went from 5,469 licensed mortgage companies in Rhode Island all the way down to 64 after the new regulations made it "safer" for consumers. "Safer" doubled the costs to the consumer (appraisal fees MORE than doubled), tripled the processing time, never improved safety at all, and added new steps that only gave politicians more profits while mortgage company profits were slashed by over 60%. Then, the same congressmen and senators that created this overcharging had the nerve to ask "Why is the industry shrinking so much?" I actually laughed out loud when I first heard that. In 2006 I met with Congressmen Barney Frank and Jim Langevin in Congressman Langevin's office, and proposed legislation that would have eliminated "bait-and-switch" tactics at absolutely no cost to the consumer with the use of a form I titled "Five day prior to closing disclosure". Both men were noticeably impressed and carried my idea to congress where it died a miserable death. I had to imagine what the end result would have been if I also introduced a "disclosure fee" that, naturally, would have been "regulated" by the politicians. (Translation: They get a "piece."). I didn't allow it and both men agreed that there shouldn't be a fee, but I still wonder. You're absolutely right when you say "get rid of all these job killing and business regulations." You prove every day that Justanidiot is anything but.

Old friend, have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Rick Corrente

Wednesday, November 14
Justanidiot

we only needs the original ten laws and regulations. the rest are just for the fat cats

Wednesday, November 14
Justanidiot

and the us economy didnt suffer from unregulated mortgages. got a pulse and a buck eye can puts you into a mansion

Wednesday, November 14
WwkVoter

"5,469 licensed mortgage companies in Rhode Island all the way down to 64 "

I do not believe that.

Saturday, November 17
CrickeeRaven

WwkVoter, as usual you are 100% to be skeptical about the two-time election reject's claims.

The most glaring defect with his statement about the supposed drop in licensed mortgage companies is that he offers absolutely no specifics about it, nor does he provide any links or information to back it up.

As usual, it is left to others to research his claims -- and as usual, his comments fall apart under such scrutiny.

In looking into this topic, I found this website page from the RI Department of Business Regulation: http://www.dbr.state.ri.us/nmls/current_licensees.php

It explains that all Rhode Island-based mortgage companies were required to file their license information with the National Mortgage Licensing System, or NMLS, beginning in 2008.

As stated on the website, "The completion of your record in NMLS will be required for your company to renew your Rhode Island Lender and/or Loan Broker License(s) in 2008."

So, this is one possible explanation for why the number changed -- the state no longer licensed mortgage companies after 2008 because of federal legislation.

Aside from that, one would expect to find information with NMLS or another agency that shows a significant drop in licensed mortgage brokers in Rhode Island if the two-time election reject's claim were true -- but again, one would find information that, in fact, disproves his words.

Here is the link to a document called "2017 NMLS Mortgage Industry Report," which is a pretty clear indication of the information that it provides: https://mortgage.nationwidelicensingsystem.org/about/Reports/2017%20Mortgage%20Report.pdf

On page 12, Rhode Island is listed as having 1,829 licensed mortgage companies, a drop of 0.9%.

[I'm sure you've noted, that's not 5,469 to 64.]

And as is typical for the two-time election reject, his opinion does not match that of people with actual knowledge of a topic. Here's what Dean Harrington, President of the Rhode Island Mortgage Bankers’ Association, said about the 2008 legislation:

“It is a remarkable accomplishment to get this bill passed. Ensuring the quality and professionalism of our loan originators is a success for our industry and for consumers. I am honored of RIMBA’s role in making this happen.”

https://www.shamrockfinancial.com/what-you-dont-know-about-nmls-state-licensing-changes/

As that article also explains, part of the 2008 federal SAFE Act established NMLS requirements for non-depository lenders, or those who only work in mortgages.

It's possible that the two-time election reject is suggesting a drop in the number of non-depository lenders in Rhode Island as a result of this reform law -- but, again, he didn't say that.

Also worth noting is that the 2008 regulations on non-depository lenders were a direct result of the fraudulent and predatory activities by these lenders [subprime mortgages &c.].

So, it appears that the two-time election reject is saying that the reduction in non-depository lenders was a bad thing -- as opposed to their predatory business practices.

Given all of these defects in his claim, I think we can safely assume that he had no contact with anyone in Congress and never suggested any legislation, except in his imagination.

Monday, November 19