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The news shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone.

Indeed, Bob Bolduc, the founder and owner of the Pride chain of gas stations and convenience stores, had announced his intentions to sell his business back in June, noting that it was time to retire and there was no one in the family interested in carrying on the business.

The search for a new buyer ended with the Boston-based private equity firm ArcLight Capital Partners, with the sale finalized at the end of last year.

Local press accounts have indicated that ArcLight plans no serious changes in the operation and intends to keep the chain intact and the name ‘Pride’ over the door. We hope all that is true. Any time a local business is sold to a national entity, there is concern that the region will be losing something in the translation.

And in this case, there is a lot to lose. That’s because, while Bolduc has been a bold, innovative entrepreneur who has authored one of the region’s more intriguing business success stories — the Pride chain boasts 31 stores (with more in various stages of development) and more than $300 million in annual sales — he has also been a philanthropist and strong supporter of many of the region’s nonprofit agencies.

Much was made of one particular act of philanthropy — actually, one act with many parts to it. That was Bolduc’s decision to donate Pride’s $50,000 ‘bonus’ for selling the single largest lottery win in U.S. history to one Mavis Wanczyk to a number of elementary schools and youth-focused nonprofits.

Some called it a publicity stunt — and he certainly got a lot of publicity from it — but Bolduc’s decision to share the wealth, and the manner in which he did, speaks volumes about how he gave back to the community, and especially its young people — and also why BusinessWest bestowed its coveted Difference Makers award on him in 2018.

“I decided to give it to the kids,” Bolduc said of his lottery bonus. “It’s a windfall; it’s not my money. So it was an easy decision to make.”

He has made many such decisions over the years, becoming a strong supporter of many local nonprofits, especially those focused on young people and families. That list includes Square One; Lincoln Elementary School in Springfield, which Pride has partnered with over the years; Brightside for Families and Children; WMAS and its Coats for Kids campaign; and many others.

Bolduc has always emphasized the need for businesses to give back, but especially to local agencies that can make a real impact on the quality of life enjoyed by people living and working in the 413.

We wish ArcLight well as it takes over the chain Bolduc started, nurtured, and grew over the past 45 years or so. We hope it continues Bolduc’s track record for innovation, including the placement of Subway shops, Dunkin’ Donuts stores, and, most recently, Chester’s chicken restaurants in his stores.

More importantly, we hope the company can continue Bolduc’s legacy of philanthropy and support of agencies focused on the region’s young people. By doing so, they’ll not only be keeping the Pride name over the door, they’ll be continuing the proud tradition of this company (and not just its founder) being a real difference maker in our region.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Eight months after announcing plans to sell the chain, Pride Stores CEO Bob Bolduc announced a sale to Arclight Capital Partners.

The 31 stores — with several more in development — will keep the Pride name, and the company’s customers and 525 employees will see little change in day-to-day operations, Bolduc told local news outlets, which is one of the reasons Arclight won out over several other interested parties.

“We had seven actual very serious big bidders who wanted to buy it,” he told Western Mass News. “They were all either national chains or very large regional chains that were strongly interested, and it wasn’t that difficult to pick, because this company wanted to keep everybody in place, and not everybody wanted to do that, and most of all, I want to take care of my employees.”

Bolduc worked at his father’s gas station in Indian Orchard in 1970 before buying him out, thus becoming the third generation of the family to run that business. In addition to running the station, he became a tire and auto-parts wholesaler, specifically a distributor for BF Goodrich and Continental.

But in 1976, Bolduc made the shift that would define his career, buying a self-serve gas station in Indian Orchard. Over the years, he would gradually expand his business, creating the chain of stores known today as Pride. But, more importantly, he developed a reputation as an industry innovator by marrying the self-service station with another emerging phenomenon, the convenience store.

Other innovations would follow; Pride would eventually become the first chain in Western Mass. to put a Dunkin’ Donuts in the stores, and the first to incorporate a Subway. But where the company has really made a name, in recent years, is with its own fresh-food production, supported by the Pride Kitchen, located at the company’s headquarters on Cottage Street in Springfield.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Pride Stores CEO Bob Bolduc announced plans to sell the chain, which includes 31 stores and 525 employees, with 10 additional sites in development.

Bolduc told the Republican he will know in six to eight weeks if he will sell and who the buyer will be. He has hired a merger and acquisition firm and has been speaking with potential buyers, which include oil and gas companies and chain convenience-store operators. The plan is to sell the whole company, retaining only a few real-estate investments.

Bolduc worked at his father’s gas station in Indian Orchard in 1970 before buying him out, thus becoming the third generation of the family to run that business. In addition to running the station, he became a tire and auto-parts wholesaler, specifically a distributor for BF Goodrich and Continental.

But in 1976, Bolduc made the shift that would define his career, buying a self-serve gas station in Indian Orchard. Over the years, he would gradually expand his business, creating the chain of stores known today as Pride. But, more importantly, he developed a reputation as an industry innovator by marrying the self-service station with another emerging phenomenon, the convenience store.

Other innovations would follow; Pride would eventually become the first chain in Western Mass. to put a Dunkin’ Donuts in the stores, and the first to incorporate a Subway. But where the company has really made a name, in recent years, is with its own fresh-food production, supported by the Pride Kitchen, located at the company’s headquarters on Cottage Street in Springfield.

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