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Looking back at the decades of TOPS in the Industry lists in the NOLN archives, one thing remains the same: Jiffy Lube sits atop.

So much else has changed, however. To most of you readers who follow the industry closely, the TOPS list says a lot about what those changes have been over the years. Brands have disappeared or consolidated over that time as the big names Hoover up smaller chains. That creates its own dynamic lower on the list, carving out space for smaller operators to stake their claims as dominant regional forces.

We chose to do the TOPS list a bit differently this year. Instead of a long list of brand names, we’re focusing only on the 25 names that make up the majority of the industry. It’s the bellwether group for quick maintenance nationwide. In addition, our team added some commentary from an industry leader to put more context around what it means to be among the top brands around.

The list is meant to pair with this month’s feature story, called “Strive for More.” The story features three operators who play important roles as franchise owners for major brands on the TOPS list. The goal is to go beyond the list and build a story around TOPS—to highlight the people who build their own success, step by step. Behind a network of dozens, hundreds, or thousands of quick lubes are individual operators like those featured this month.

Speaking of impressive individuals, I’d invite you to check out this month’s profile story. So often, the magazine focuses on the people at the top of quick lube organizations. This story shines a light on a bright young manager who is the kind of employee that every operator wants on his or her team. A good opportunity is just the start, and this manager shows what can happen when you respond and flourish with a chance like that.

With all these big brand names flying around, you might ask, “What place do the little guys have in NOLN?” The answer is that they play a huge role. The editorial team and I strive to show a complete picture of our industry, big and small. 

Make sure to read this month’s Shop Look that features a local shop that made some smart investments early on. We’ve also got the owner of Georgia-based East Coast Lubes in the magazine talking about how operators need to spot talent within their ranks and build their talents for greater things.

So what should you do with the TOPS in the Industry list?

It’s always one of our most popular special projects at NOLN. Information is power, to be sure. If you know your markets and know your industry, you’ll be better prepared to anticipate and evolve alongside the business. Maybe a big acquisition happened right in your backyard, in your local market. How do you respond?

Whether you’re in a franchise system or an independent quick lube, my colleagues and I will be looking toward you to judge which way the wind blows in this industry. From time to time, I speak to an operator who talks about a certain training program or service process that they shared with other operators. Before they know it, that idea has spread throughout a franchise or operator peer group. That’s real impact, and it shows how each small action can help lift the industry a bit higher.

We try to imitate a similar idea in the magazine. Tell me what’s working in your shop, and we’ll share it within these pages. Hopefully it will inspire the next shop owner to improve a small part of their own operation.


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