Category Archives: 2014 Winter Newsletter

The Little Things

Tony Martin Spotlight Interview Photo Small

There are plenty of gas stations, convenience stores, and auto repair shops out there that offer the necessities at average pricing, but succeeding in today’s competitive market requires those extra “little things.” Be they gestures, actions, or words these little things can spark a turning point in your life or keep you on the path to greatness. This is the mindset of Tony Martin, a down-to earth, free hearted man who found his niche as an entrepreneur.

One such “little thing” still resonates in Tony’s mind, even though it happened over 20 years ago. In 1985, Tony was a young man taking his first steps into the business world when he was hired by Gibb Chevrolet to wash cars. The job itself may have seemed menial, but Tony put his heart and soul into it. He loved meeting the diversity of people and wanted every customer who drove away to be completely satisfied and inclined to return. Tony’s boss was impressed and made a simple comment that with Tony’s smile, he should go into business for himself.

Tony Mart Logo SmallTony, being one of seven children, was used to fighting for what he wanted, but he questioned whether he really had what it took to be a businessman. The words of his boss stuck with Tony and he wanted to share his idea with a very special person in his life, his mother, Norma Martin. There was no hesitation on her part, she knew Tony had what it took. Norma only had $300 but she believed in him and was willing to give Tony a chance to make it on his own. His mother’s support was a monumental turning point in Tony’s life. “I wouldn’t be ‘Tony Martin’ without my mom,” Tony said with a smile.

Tony knew the path he wanted his life to take. This young, skinny, wet-behind-the-ears man had his mind set and jumped in with both feet. Tony rented an old building with dirt floors and only a little kerosene heater to provide warmth. He purchased 300 gallons of gasoline, a case of motor oil and opened “Tony Mart.” Back in the day, people only bought enough gasoline to drive to town and back. Tony made himself available from 9:00 in the morning until 6:00 at night, just a little thing that meant a lot to his customers. If someone needed one gallon of gas Tony was pleased to meet them and more than happy to service them. It was a memorable moment when a customer filled their tank for the first time at Tony Mart. $27 in a single transaction! The possibilities were endless that day. Tony proceeded cautiously, slowly buying more, doing his best to provide his customers anything and everything they wanted.

Tony Mart Before Photo

Tony’s customer base was growing and he did his best to keep pace, never letting his values or quality of service suffer. Tony focused on the little things. He greeted customers by their names, ordered the merchandise they preferred, and charged fair prices. He hired competent employees who were eager to learn and willing to develop the skills needed to provide Tony’s standard of excellent customer service. He mostly hired young, inexperienced workers who were grateful for the opportunity. These workers respected Tony and were compelled to do their best for him. He knew he was given a chance by his mom, and strove to pay it forward.

Customers respected Tony and appreciated all the little things he did at Tony Mart. Positive word of mouth spread in town as loyal customers told their friends and family of the excellent service. As word spread, Tony recognized an opportunity to expand his business and started providing tire repair services. Before he knew it, he was repairing tires, selling tires and even performing related auto services. He eventually became a licensed Goodyear dealer.

In 2012, Tony Mart was branded Valero by Countywide Petroleum Company, and the station underwent a transformation with a new canopy, POS system and new dispensers that provided customers the option to pay at the pump with credit cards. Tony received customized graphics that breathed new life into his store. With the assistance of Countywide Petroleum Company, Tony has been able to double the size of his convenience store and significantly increase his fuel sales. With more efficient methods of operating in place, Tony has been freed up to put more time into his tire shop. His business is thriving, his customers are happy, and he is making life better for him and his family. Tony’s wife Angie was there for him at the start of his journey. He is so thankful for her love and support, as well as that of their two sons, Cory and Chris. Tony has immense gratitude for the support of Countywide Petroleum Company and will continue doing all the “little things” that make him Tony Martin. Thank you mom!

Tony Mart After Photo

Possibilities of LED Lighting


We know all too well that competition is fierce in the gas station and convenience store industry. While demand is high, profit margins are extremely tight. Retrofitting gas stations with Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs) is the latest trend in an attempt to boost customer traffic while simultaneously reducing operating costs. Until recently, lighting has been thought about primarily for aesthetic purposes. With the advancements in technologies, your lighting choice can now have a tremendous impact on your bottom line. Even taking the initial cost of the retrofit into consideration, LED illumination can provide a positive impact to the financial condition of your station. The following are benefits of LED.

  • Enhanced Customer Perception. For years, market research has shown that consumers want a safe, clean and well-lit site. This is an absolute necessity when the sun goes down. Potential customers only have a few seconds to decide whether to pull into your site, or drive by. LED lighting gives the site a brighter, glare-free and more inviting look that really makes your site pop.
  • Energy Efficiency. LEDs provide a brilliant amount of light while consuming only a fraction of the power of traditional lighting. Not only will your electric bill be positively impacted, but utilities are often incentivizing retrofits with utility rebates.
  • Durability. The lifespan of LEDs far surpass any of its predecessors. LED lights typically last over 50,000 hours. Longer life correlates to less costly bulb changes or re-lamping. LEDs are built with sturdy components that can withstand even the roughest and coldest conditions. LEDs contain no high-pressure gasses or thin filaments and are resistant to shock, vibrations and external impacts. Therefore after your initial installation or retrofit, upkeep and maintenance costs are substantially reduced.
  • High Quality. LEDs measure high values in the CRI (Color Rendering Index), which indicates how accurately a lighting source renders colors. LED lighting maintains its color fidelity with no yellowing over time. These attributes are crucial as you want the true colors and look of the logo to be the same in daylight and under the lights at night. In addition, LED lights should not discolor, degrade or damage illuminated surfaces. LED lighting can be combined with smart home lighting such as the Z Wave to create an immersive experience.
  • Environmentally Friendly. LED lights contain no harmful elements like mercury and are 100% recyclable. They have the smallest carbon footprint of any artificial light source. That’s less environmental impact and no special disposal requirements.

Safeguard Your Location in the Winter

Wet FloorGas station lots, sidewalks, and outdoor steps need to have any snow accumulation removed in a timely manner. Apply salt to melt any icy spots. When a snow plow is needed, make sure to mark the locations of your gas caps with orange cones. Do not plow over them, as the blade will catch the lip of the lid and cause substantial damage. If unable to avoid the gas caps, only back drag or back blade over them. Make sure snow is pushed to a safe area and snow piles do not obstruct vision of traffic and pedestrians. Indoors, continually clean all walking surfaces, as customers track in snow, ice, water and excess salt. Put up caution or wet floor signs to warn customers of the potential for slip and fall. If you have a floor mat, keep it clean and make sure it doesn’t roll up and cause a tripping hazard.

Common Diesel Additives

As diesel fuel is further refined to meet strict specifications, burn cleaner and reduce pollution, important properties are lost. Diesel fuel additives are designed to fill the void of the removed properties. The optimum quality and performance of diesel fuel can be supplemented, changed, improved, or enhanced depending on the additive used. These specifically formulated diesel additives may be added at the refinery, during distribution, at the terminal, by the marketer or the end-user customer. In whatever manner or way these additives are introduced, they have become essential in restoring some of the fuel’s quality characteristics lost in the refining process, and thereby improving the performance of vehicles and equipment. The following are some of the most commonly types of diesel additives.

FireEngine Performance Additives– The refining process removes some key properties when it comes to protecting the engine from wear and tear. When added to diesel fuel these additives are designed to extend the life of engine components.

  • Lubricants– While the newly mandated Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) is less polluting, the lower sulfur levels have inadvertently caused the removal of some of the compounds that provide lubricity to the diesel fuel. Lubrication is a necessary component of diesel fuel as it ensures protection against fuel pump and injector wear.
  • Cetane Number Improvers– Cetane Number is a measure of the readiness of a fuel to auto-ignite when injected into a diesel engine. Similar to octane boosters in gasoline, these additives influence ease of starting, duration of white smoking after start-up, drivability before warm-up, and intensity of diesel knock at idle.
  • Detergents– Diesel fuels, especially those low in sulfur, have a tendency to form carbon deposits on fuel injectors. These deposits can restrict fuel flow, interfere with the fuel spray pattern and give rise to higher smoke levels and decreased fuel economy. Detergent additives dissolve and help prevent carbon deposits from forming.

snowflakesLow-Temperature Flow and De-Icing Additives– The refining process used to produce ULSD fuel affects the naturally-occurring wax in diesel in such a way that it can cause the fuel to turn from liquid to gel more readily in cold temperatures. This can lead to plugged up fuel filters, engine stalls and cause potential damage to the fuel system.

  • Anti-Gel and De-Icing Additives– Using high quality fuel additives on a regular basis can help prevent icing and gelling and ensure trouble-free operation. These anti-gel and de-icing additives are designed to hinder wax particles from melding together to form larger wax flakes that can clog up the fuel filter. These additives must mix well with the diesel fuel and therefore must be added to ULSD when the fuel is still warm from the storage tanks.
  • Winter Blend– In markets that experience severe weather conditions, a special “winter” or “winterized” diesel is sold from December through the end of February. This winter blend is specially formulated and includes additives to prevent the diesel fuel from gelling in cold weather. The drawback of using this winter blend is that it is lower in viscosity, provides less lubrication for the fuel pump and fuel distributor, and is accompanied by a slight drop-off in fuel economy.

Countywide Petroleum Company adds appropriate year-round diesel additives, such as Power Service Products, to provide trouble free winter operation and improve diesel engine performance.

Branded Gasoline Credit Cards

BrandedGasCreditCardsSmallThe new era of convenience for the customer carries with it a loss of profit for the small business. Paying at the pump with a credit card is faster and easier for the customer, but cuts into the profit of the location. In return for the privilege of accepting plastic, credit card companies charge retailers a processing fee for every card swipe. This swipe fee can range from 2% – 4% of the total purchase price. When fuel prices go up, credit card companies receive a windfall without providing any additional services, while the station owner sees margins shrink. What are station owners to do? It is not practical to refuse payment by credit card. Many stations are actively promoting their brand’s credit card. With lower processing fees than standard credit cards, branded gas credit cards provide the self serve convenience for the customer without the high credit card fees. Research has shown that when a consumer purchases a brand gas card, they become loyal to that brand, make more frequent stops to their favorite brand station and inevitably spend more money inside the convenience store. By using their brand credit card shoppers are also providing important data that the station can use to influence their marketing strategies and the merchandise they offer.