BP isn’t the most popular brand these days, and more than 630,000 people have joined a Boycott BP page on Facebook. But the BP station at the corner of Broad Street and Bay Avenue in Bloomfield is weathering the crisis due to the fact that it knows most of its customers by name. Agolia & Sons opened as an American gas dealer in the mid-1950’s. American became Amoco, which merged with BP in 1998, and the Amoco name was phased out in 2001, but if you Google Agolia they still come up as an Amoco in most listings.
“We’re a dying breed: a station that fixes cars,” says Johnny Agolia, who runs the station. “People are supporting us. They aren’t taking it out on us.” His father Michael (pictured pumping gas in 1967) is the owner.
Indeed, as if to prove it, a car pulled in and Johnny Agolia greeted the driver — who comes from Roseland to fill up — by name. “My father was a 6 to 6 man,” Agolia says. “He worked from 6 to 6 and he slept from 6 to 6.”
Inside the station are a slew of fact sheets sent by BP’s public relations department. On the window is a huge BP sign with the headline, “The Gulf Oil Spill Response.”
People do sometimes ask or comment on the spill, Agolia says, but most of the time it’s “Johnny, how are you?”
Today Agolia’s BP station was selling regular gas at $2.559, four pennies cheaper than the Exxon across the street. He says he hasn’t seen a real drop-off in business — because of the customer relationship.
“Don’t take it out on the small guy like us,” he says. “Everybody has a right to make an honest living.”
Meanwhile, just minutes ago, BP agreed to set aside $20 billion for oil spill claims.