According to an article in the Orange County Journal:
Costa Mesa-based EZ Lube quick-service auto maintenance has sold all 72 Southern California locations to the largest franchisee for Valvoline Instant Oil Change.
The names on the EZ Lube locations will be changed to Valvoline over the next six months, according to the franchisee, Henley Enterprises based in Massachusetts. Terms of the all-cash deal were not disclosed.
EZ Lube filed for bankruptcy reorganization in 2008 and emerged in November 2009. Sales were $75 million in 2010. Since bankruptcy it has been owned by private equity firms led by Goldman Sachs.
Henley was formed in 1989 to operate one of the first franchised Valvoline Instant Oil Change facilities in Somerville, Mass. It now has 196 locations and 1,800 employees in 12 states. Valvoline is a brand of Ashland Inc. in Kentucky.
The EZ Lube purchase is Henleys first move into California, which has more licensed drivers than any other state.
“EZ Lube was the largest independent oil change chain in the United States; it was a great opportunity said Don Smith, Henley co-founder and chief executive officer. “The Southern California market is a great one to get into in terms of automotive services. People here love their cars.”
Valvoline is known for its “stay-in-your-car” preventative maintenance services including oil changes, tire rotation, wiper blade and light bulb replacement and air conditioning service.
“We limit the amount of time customers are in our premises,” Smith said. “They can watch the process going on around them. We have more of system than EZ Lube had. We think we can increase car counts significantly at each location.”
That process will eventually lead Henley to increase staffing at some of the former EZ Lube locations, he said.
“In five years I think we will double our presence in Southern California,” he added.
EZ Lube in December 2007, agreed to pay $5 million to settle a fraud case brought by the Orange County District Attorneys Office. The countys complaint alleged that the repair shops defrauded motorists into paying for unneeded or unfinished repairs.
The company paid $3 million but then declared bankruptcy in December 2008, according to Deputy District Attorney Michelle Cipolletti.
Prosecutors sought to recover the unpaid $2 million from EZ Lubes former president and chief operating officer because they had personally guaranteed the funds, Cipolletti said. Instead of paying, the two men sued the District Attorneys office. That case was dismissed in 2009.
“That was far enough in the past that they have gotten over that negative reputation. The new management had done a great job of getting away from that past,” Smith said. “Changing the name to Valvoline can only help that.”