Tag Archives: Countywide Petroleum

A Series of Encounters

EncounterWhen reflecting upon one’s life, it is often the case that you can look back over a series of events that shape and help mold your life. It is rare when you can pinpoint the moment that had the greatest impact. For brothers Sagar and Sanjay Ukani, they feel blessed for meeting the right people at the right time in their lives. Sagar and Sanjay had not even finished high school when they relocated to the United States from India to forge a better life for themselves and their families. They had no money, no understanding of the English language and felt as though they knew nothing. Sagar likened it to being born one day and expected to survive on his own the next day. This was a scary, terrible feeling- one which he vowed his children would never experience. The brothers, united in their endeavor, were up for the challenge; they would never shy away from hard work.

Sagar and Sanjay found employment at a convenience store in New Jersey. They took immense pride in their work, which was noticed in a chance encounter with David Vakil, an encounter that would change the course of their lives forever. David had himself journeyed from India to the US, was making a good life for his family and promised to help Sagar and Sanjay get started on their journey. With a handshake and a gut feeling, Sagar and Sanjay put their trust into this man they just met. From that day forward a relationship was formed that far surpassed a business arrangement- it was an opportunity that changed their lives.

C04 Fueland 4001 OM Enterprises - AfterDavid Vakil owned a gas station and convenience store in Pittsburgh and offered to sell it to Sagar and Sanjay. This offer sounded simple enough, but was far from ordinary. Obviously, Sagar and Sanjay could not buy it outright, they would need to work it off. And let’s not forget, they were starting from a blank page. They knew nothing of the fuel business and were unable to communicate well using the English language. Their challenge was monumental, but David promised to teach them everything he knew about the gas station and convenience store business. He worked with them every day and even brought his son into the store to work side by side with Sagar and Sanjay. The brothers faced many struggles but were determined to succeed. They worked 18-19 hours a day, 7 days a week, covering every hour the store was open. Their main objective was to provide exceptional customer service. It didn’t matter how things used to be run, or how neighboring businesses conducted themselves, Sagar and Sanjay had their own vision.

Once someone stepped through their doors the goal was to secure that customer for a lifetime by providing competitively priced items with priceless customer service. Customers came to know and respect Sagar and Sanjay and became “regulars” at their gas station and convenience store. Within 3 years, the brothers were able to complete their purchase of the station from David Vakil. Now they were ready to take their business to the next level. Following in David’s footsteps, Sagar and Sanjay decided to work with Superior Petroleum Company. Superior Petroleum designed a supply program specifically tailored for their store. Drawing from their vast experience, they were able to work with Sagar and Sanjay to implement a more productive means of operating their location. Since their collaboration with Superior Petroleum in 2006, the brothers have access to the latest technologies and up-to-date POS systems and new state-of-the-art dispensers. Presently, Sagar and Sanjay Ukani refer to the aforementioned gas station/ convenience store as their first location, their “heart.” Superior Petroleum Company helped them increase their fuel sales and acquire additional gas stations/ c-stores.

The Ukani brothers were not only blessed in business, they were blessed in love. Sagar and Sanjay feel lucky to have found the people who will be in their lives for a lifetime, as each are married with 2 children. They admit that at the beginning they had put business first and missed out on a lot of family time. Their driving force was knowing that their efforts would result in giving their children the opportunity to receive a good education without the trying times they experienced. Sagar and Sanjay remain dedicated and can still be seen in their stores on a daily basis. They love what they are doing and have no plans to stop any time soon…but they often pause to give thanks to those people that have made an impact on their lives.

Point-of-Purchase Advertising

Point-Of-Purchase (POP) advertising is built around impulse purchasing and use of in-store displays and other last minute marketing ploys to catch a shopper’s eye. As with all forms of advertising, the objective is to influence a person’s decision. Typically, a shortcoming of advertising is the time lag between when potential customers are subject to the ad and the time when they have an opportunity to make a purchase. POP advertising is effective as it eliminates such a lag time and attempts to influence the customer at the very moment that he/she is making a buying decision. Powerful Point-Of-Purchase marketing attracts interest and drives sales. It can persuade shoppers to purchase additional quantities of a product or to buy related products that are merchandised together. The ultimate goal is to increase sales at your location. Point-Of-Purchase promotion techniques often include window displays, floor stands, banners of any kind, end caps promoting a single product, counter displays, posters, signs, display bins, and even placement of related items next to each other on shelves. POP materials work best at eye level, using bright colors, engaging graphics and simple messages. Generally, these displays are created by the manufacturer for distribution to wholesalers or retailers who sell their merchandise. In fact, a manufacturer may discount the cost of merchandise or compensate the retailer in some other way for using their Point-Of-Purchase displays. This is especially true when using an end cap display, the prime real estate in the convenience store! To take full advantage of POP marketing, the advertisements must evolve constantly, mix up your merchandise, move around your displays, and keep your approach fresh. Once the customer sees the same display for a few weeks, it becomes ineffective. Additionally, if the sale is regularly available, customers will not feel the urgency to make a purchase.  It is well worth your time and effort to ensure eye appeal and take advantage of a targeted audience. Customers will make additional purchases and come back often to see if they can take advantage of the next exciting promotion.

Spring Clean Your Foodservice Menu

Spring CleanTake spring cleaning to the next level this year, clean up and revamp your foodservice program. Customers today are very picky when it comes to their food. They want it fast, they want it fresh and they want value. There is considerable pressure on c-store retailers to get their foodservice offering right. Any deficiency can drive customers away, perhaps forever. When you are ready to test your innovativeness and expand your menu, pay special attention to the following:

  • Stay connected to the pulse of your community. In general, there is a growing demand for healthier options in the form or fresh fruit cups, salads, smoothies, hearty soups, wraps, grilled sandwiches, organic coffee and teas. Move slowly and cautiously when adding new items to your menu, making sure the demand is there.
  • Build a better perception of c-store food by offering fresh foods constantly. Make sure to inform your customers with an eye catching sign, “Made Fresh Here” or “Guaranteed Fresh.”
  • If you are not preparing the food in front of your customers, package it in clear containers or clear cellophane wrap. Be sure to include a label with the date the food was prepared.
  • Convenience stores rely heavily on impulse sales, your foodservice area must be spotless and your staff on top of things at all times. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.
  • If you are serious about improving your foodservice program, you need to develop a tolerance for waste. You will make more money down the road with happy, repeat customers.
  • In revamping your menu, consider offering special combo prices or deals. The placing of the order is simplified and customers are rewarded with perceived instant savings. The retailer is rewarded with add-on sales and thereby increasing the sales amount average.
  • The days are gone when customers would buy a food item and wash it down with a generic cup of coffee. Customers today have a much more discerning taste even driving out of their way for a great cup of coffee. Get those customers inside your store by offering unique flavors and espresso-based drinks.

Electronic Cigarettes

E CigElectronic Cigarettes, also known as E-Cigarettes, E-Cigs, Electronic Vaping Devices (EVDs), or personal vaporizers (PVs) are the latest and fastest growing alternatives to smoking tobacco products. They are battery powered devices that turn liquid nicotine into a vapor which is then inhaled. They are produced in different styles, differing strengths of nicotine, and come in a variety of colors and flavors. Manufacturers of e-cigarettes are trying to appeal to the widest range of consumers, hoping to provide them a more enjoyable, more attractive and less expensive alternative to smoking. Prices vary considerably, you can get cheap vaporizers under $50 however the longer you vape the more expensive your vaporizer will no doubt be as you get to truly understand that the better the vaporizer the better the taste, and subsequently the more enjoyable the vape.

The process of using an e-cigarette is called “vaping” rather than “smoking”. No match, no lighter, no fire. Puff on an e-cigarette as you would a regular cigarette and the device heats the liquid and changes it to a nicotine-filled vapor in the flavor of your choice. You can select models that look like traditional cigarettes, cigars, flashlights or fountain pens. Manufacturers offer simple disposable e-cigarettes or reusable, replaceable, refillable and rechargeable options. E-cigarettes are used by smokers in areas they can’t smoke traditional cigarettes, by smokers who are trying to quit, and by non-smokers who find “vaping” more enjoyable than smoking. Manufacturers see this product as a continued growth area and have allocated substantial resources to meet the growing demand.

However, vaping still comes with it’s downfalls. The nicotine can still cause an unhealthy addiction and chemicals within the liquid, have been reported to contain chemicals that causes diseases like popcorn lung. We have found some resources on popcorn lung it explain in more detail what it is. We do highly recommend that you are careful when purchasing liquids for your E-cigarette. Research them first to find out what chemicals are inside it. You can never be too careful!!

Onala Recovery Center

Onala LogoOnala is a non-profit organization that was established in a downtown storefront in 1952 as a place where a small group of recovering men, who shared a common goal of staying sober, could gather. Its name derived from the abbreviation of Alcoholics Anonymous (Al Ano) spelled backward. This was done to protect the anonymity of its members.

Over six plus decades, Onala transformed from a small supportive gathering place to the Onala Recovery Center, and expanded its mission to provide men and women from all walks of life with a facility that offers an environment of recovery from alcohol, drug and other addictions through education, social interaction and fellowship. Through its evolution, Onala performed multiple upgrades and added numerous services responsive to the needs of the community. Despite all the changes over the years, Onala never diverted from its primary purpose of “one alcoholic helping another stay sober.”

Although located in the heart of Pittsburgh, Onala has become a valuable community resource for the entire tri-state area. Those in need are being referred to the Onala Recovery Center by rehabilitation and detox centers, schools, churches, community centers, courts, probation officers and “word of mouth” of thousands of recovering people. For each member whose life is changed with the support of Onala, dozens of others are affected, as members begin to contribute to society once again, families stay together, the quality of children’s lives improves and the social fabric of which we are all a part is strengthened. The Onala Recovery Center provides a mental health clinic, medical clinic, and outreach program, and currently hosts 55 meetings each week of various 12 Step Programs including Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous and Overcomer’s Outreach. This incredible facility needs the help and support of companies like CountywidePetroleum and BP, without them Onala’s reach and productivity would be severely limited.

SP Dealer Dennie Rhoads, BP Marketer

93chap“Tread gently on our hills, Tread gently. You are on hallowed ground.” This message is in an old white clapboard church, now renamed the Flight 93 Chapel. The Somerset church was refurbished and renamed in honor of the passengers of Flight 93. Huddled at the back, the passengers decided to rush the cockpit. Who can forget Todd Beamer’s command of, “Let’s roll!” They battled fiercely to recover the plane and the terrorists had no choice but to crash. Those few courageous Americans saved countless lives.

For almost thirty years, Dennie and Yvonne Rhoads have operated a mini-mart in Somerset PA. Back to the 1800s, Dennie’s ancestors have lived in the area. Dennie graduated from Somerset High School in 1967, and as a junior played football on their last undefeated team. In May 1969, shortly after he was drafted into the Army, to go to Vietnam, Dennie and Yvonne were married in that same church that is Flight 93 Chapel today. In early 1970, with a two-week-old baby girl at home, Dennie left home for a one-year tour in Vietnam operating in a recovery unit between Da Nang and Quang Tri.

Rhoads Mini-Mart has an old-fashioned feel. It has all the new-store amenities and products. But over on one side is a smaller room that holds extra stock, a lottery machine, old signs and promotional items, and a well-worn wooden park bench and assorted rocking chairs. Daily, elderly local men sit back there and drink coffee and solve the world’s problems. That room makes it much more than a convenience store. Rhoads’ is a place for life-long friendships. Returning from Vietnam, Dennie worked six years in a coal mine. He enjoyed the camaraderie of the underground world. The joyful way Dennie describes work in the mine illustrates that he is a person who sees the glass as half- full, someone you would like to have as a partner, or next to you in a foxhole. After the Flight 93 crashed, Dennie transported soup and sandwiches to Police and the FBI. When asked by the Daily American, Somerset’s newspaper, how he felt about volunteering, Dennie said, “I’m very patriotic and this means a lot me. It’s hard to describe. It’s wonderful we can honor the families for the sacrifices they made.”

Somerset has a rich history and was the central stage of the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794. In 2002, nine miners trapped by flooding 240 feet underground for 77 hours were all rescued in the Quecreek coal mine. Somerset has ski resorts nearby and Mt. Davis, which has Pennsylvania’s highest elevation. Its local vineyards produce a wide variety of wines.

covered bridgeDennie took me to the Flight 93 Memorial through the Glessner Covered Bridge. Built in 1881, the bridge spans across Stony Creek. Driving through picturesque green mountains, we crossed this spectacular bridge. How ironic that we were headed to one of America’s famous disaster sites passing through one of our most beautiful old structures. Dennie knows the people in all of the houses we passed. His uncle lived there and a cousin lived there. We passed one quaint house and Dennie quietly said, “My friend Gordy Kimmel lived there. Gordy didn’t make it back from Vietnam.” Flight 93 crashed onto a reclaimed strip mine. Driving into the National Park, it has a surreal feel, a flattened mountain with moss-like vegetation starting to grow on the rolling treeless hills. Dennie used to hunt grouse and small game on the adjacent farm, owned by his aunt and late uncle, where now stands the wall of names honoring the heroes of Flight 93. It is a haunting experience for anyone. But for Dennie, a military veteran with his history in the area, and the personal experiences he had volunteering with his family, friends and neighbors, one can sense the exponential effect this memorial has on him, and how much Dennie loves America. Yvonne is one of five girls all raised in Somerset. Her sisters live all around the country. Yvonne’s mother said to her, “You’re the only one who stayed.” Yvonne lifted a finger and pointed to Dennie, smiled and said, “I stayed because of him.” Even after over forty years of marriage, and thirty years working together in the store, one recognizes the true friendship and genuine love between Dennie and Yvonne. She is a registered nurse and continued working as a nurse the first year they had the store. They raised three children who all live close by; a daughter Paula who is a pharmacist, a son Michael who is very successful in the construction business, and another daughter Jacglen (named after both her grandfathers) who is a physical therapist. They sent the girls to college and paid for their weddings. They have five grandchildren, all boys. Michael bought almost 70 acres of forested land nearby. They hunt and ride quads on this fertile mountainous paradise. Someday Michael will sell the timber on the land to pay for his children’s college education. Dennie is proud of his children’s long-time association and accomplishments with 4-H. Dennie said his kids worked in the store growing up, and learned valuable lessons that helped them forge a strong work-ethic.