Fred Depken Retires After 75 Years

After 75 years on the job, Fred Depken is retiring from his family business at K & D Oil.
As the patriarch of the company, Fred Depken III’s memories go back to the days of coal.
It was his great grandfather, Gerhard Depken and his two sons, Frederick and Gerhard Jr., who founded the G. Depken and Sons Company over a century ago.

Gerhard Depken Jr. was born in Bremen, Germany in 1850. He immigrated and came to Hasbrouck Heights in 1895. He went into partnership with his two sons, Gerhard Jr. and Frederick, two years later and started delivering coal.

The new business was successful from the start. One reason was that it offered customers something very new in those days -- call up delivery service!

The first advertisment was found in the first edition of the local newspaper and it read: “Just call us up when you need coal. Your order will be filled just as quickly and satisfactorily as if you had come in person to order it, and the coal will be just as good coal as ever came out of a mine, clean, dry and reliable.”

G. Depken & Sons would advertise the best Lehigh Coal ever mined. Their coal yard and offices were located in Rutherford, Carlstadt and Hasbrouck Heights, NJ with coal docks at Berry’s Creek.

The need to modernize and keep ahead of the times was understood by Fred Depken Jr. when he joined the company. By 1930, the shift from coal to oil was well underway, but the company, now run by Gerhard Jr., only accepted the change reluctantly. As a result of this continuing refusal to modernize, Fred Jr. finally made a dramatic decision.

In 1950, he resigned from the original company and formed his own firm with his son, Fred Depken III: Fred Depken and Sons, Inc. With the formation of the new company came modernizations with equipment and staffing to handle installations and service as well as oil delivery. In the late 1950’s, the switch from oil to gas began, creating a crisis for the company and its new president, Fred Depken III. But Fred was at the helm of a fully modernized company offering installation services as well as oil delivery. He also had faith that the oil business would come back strong, so he hung in there -- and sure enough, the tide turned and the consumers’ faith in oil heat came back stronger than ever.

In 1982, in a marriage of equals, the company merged with Keller Engineering and positioned itself to better serve its customers. Depken moved operations to Passaic Terminal so they could use the fuel tanks. Oil was barged up the Passaic River until 1992 when the tanks were removed. Keller-Depken has since acquired several other oil companies to become the largest family owned oil company in northern New Jersey.

Heights’ History
Originally, Depken was based from the sun porch of their grandmother’s house at 281 Henry Street (she passed in 1994). Depken then moved their office to the Velasco TV shop at the corner of The Boulevard and Franklin Avenue (now Anton’s) and operated there for about 25 years. Fred Depken maintained his presence in Hasbrouck Heights by opening up a satellite office at 166 Franklin Avenue in 1982.

For years, Hasbrouck Heights “old timers” would stop by the office for a visit.
Fred is retiring and closing the office. He said, “Sorry to close the office -- I will miss all my friends. Depken is not leaving Hasbrouck Heights -- we will always be here to serve our friends and customers. We will always maintain our local phone number -- 288-0723. And, many of our employees still live in town.” K & D represents state-of-the-art home heating oil technology with an old fashioned service heritage dedicated to keeping families warm, comfortable and secure.

Fifth Generation
Presently, the company has entered in its fifth generation of “The Depken Tradition.”
Fifth generation John Depken affirms, “Everyone in our company is committed to maintaining a high-level of customer service. We deliver to a customer base of several thousand homes and businesses -- with prompt fuel oil deliveries using a modern fleet of ten sparkling trucks.
We also provide system maintenance, new installations, and gas conversions with our highly skilled team of twelve technicians. In addition, we offer convenient budget plans, tank protection plans, etc.” He adds, “As a state-of-the-art company with an old-fashioned service heritage, our small family business can continue to serve their customers and prosper in a world of huge conglomerate corporations.” Fred’s children, Carol & John, are carrying on the traditon of forward thinking service. ###

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