N.H. Oil Firm Blames Shutdwn on Unpaid Insurance Bill

June 25, 2007

New Hampshire customers who were stranded after their oil company shut its doors in April confronted the company’s owners last Friday at a creditors’ hearing in Concord.

Rumford Energy closed without warning, and the company has filed for bankruptcy protection and is being investigated by the state, which said it owes former customers who prepaid for oil at least $500,000.

Paul Maggiotto, a lawyer for Rumford owner Tim Ferns, said that having to close down the company was a humiliating experience triggered by an unpaid insurance bill.

Ferns said his insurance company wanted a $15,000 payment within 24 hours. With no more sources of financing, he shut down and laid off 15 workers. He said he never saw a past-due notice.

“He feels terrible about what happened,” Maggiotto said. “It was a business that went belly-up. He’s embarrassed that it’s happened. He feels sorry for everybody.”

Ferns said that the company had about $1 million in losses over the past two years, but he thought it was viable up to the day before it closed.

At the hearing, customers said they were angry that Rumford took their business when the company was having problems.

“I went downstairs and took a look at our oil tank and found it was empty, and we had to make other arrangements,” former customer Jim Anderson said.

Some sympathized with Ferns as a man who got in over his head, and all said they were out several hundred or even thousands of dollars.

The hearings are scheduled to continue in August.


Information from: WMUR-TV,

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