Forward Energy,  a subsidiary of Forward Corporation, has acquired the propane division of Hirschman Oil and Propane, an 85-year-old energy company in Reese. Forward Energy said the move immediately boosts its strategic growth, both in number of customers and service area. Primarily serving customers in central and northern Michigan, the acquisition expands Forward Energy’s reach farther south and into the Thumb.

Forward Energy said it will now serve more than 6,000 propane customers across 23 counties, making it one of the largest locally-owned propane suppliers in Michigan.

“This is a very exciting time for Forward Energy,” said Abby Moniz, president of Forward Corp. “Our propane division continues to thrive, and acquiring a quality, well-respected company, such as Hirschman, will make us stronger and give us more opportunity to serve our customers.”

Family-owned and operated since 1934, Hirschman Oil and Propane will continue to do business as Hirschman Oil, focusing specifically on fuel oil. The company will move into a new office building later this summer.

“We couldn’t ask for a better partner in this transition,” said Mark Hirschman, president of Hirschman Oil. “We wanted to make sure our propane customers were well taken care of, so we’re happy to be passing the torch to another local, family-owned company such as Forward.”

Forward Energy will maintain an office in Reese in the current Hirschman building, in addition to its main office in Standish and a satellite office in Roscommon. The purchase was finalized June 17.