Shop Life Columnists

Well-Earned Award in 2021

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In interviews with operators, I often have to ask operators to brag a bit about themselves. It’s a way to get them to open up about the successful steps they’ve taken to make it in the industry. When interviewing Jason Berry, this year’s Operator of the Year, I had to ask a few different times.

Berry runs two Havoline xpress lube shops in Alabama. He is a very humble man. He didn’t take the bait when I asked him to brag about his processes, his leadership, or the impressive numbers his shops produce. He consistently deferred to his staff, his mentors, and his faith as guiding forces in his success.

That says a lot about this year’s award winner, of course. But it’s also true that Berry has the temperament and vision within himself to set his shops up for years of continued prosperity. I know this because those who nominated Berry for the award weren’t shy about extolling his talents.

There were many nominators, as far as NOLN awards go. Some talked about Berry as a leader (“ extremely humble business owner who is not only highly regarded by his customers but also highly regarded by his employees.”), while others talked about the growth in car counts, premium oil sales, and customer satisfaction scores.

After speaking with Berry for the first time, it was clear that he’s an operator who wants to find success the right way. That means being responsive to employee needs, taking extra time and attention for customers, and putting in a lot of his own sweat equity into his shops. As a young operator, Berry represents a bright future for quick lube ownership. But make no mistake, he’s not new to the field. As a youngster, he helped his father’s metal fabrication business to weld the underground tanks in the shop that he ultimately ended up owning.

All those reasons and more led me and the NOLN editorial team to choose Berry for this year’s award, and we’re excited to share his story this month (page XX). Berry is the 31st winner of the award in this magazine’s history.

For 2021, we’ve also chosen to recognize two runners up who have demonstrated excellence in their own circles. First is Costa Kapothanasis, who has had a big year growing his company-owned network as well as launching a brand new franchise program—no small undertaking.

We’re also recognizing Shane Burton, a Jiffy Lube franchisee out of Twin Falls, Idaho. Burton shows a strong commitment to being a positive influence in his business and community. That was apparent in the strong endorsement from Burton’s general manager, Devan Lyman.

“I would never leave his stores because of the level of care he provides,” he told me.

The awards issue is always a big event for us at NOLN, and I’m grateful for all of the thoughtful nominations and stories that we received as part of the process. In this and every issue, we hope that our stories shine a light on the hard work and success that operators in this industry display.

Of course, this issue isn’t all awards. I hope you’ll enjoy the story of Lee Christianson, who wanted to make his small-town shop more accessible to his neighbors, for whom English is a second language. 

We’re also sharing the story of two sisters whose grand opening collided with a global pandemic. 

And if all that isn’t enough, we’ve got strategy stories help you improve social media language and keeping staff on task.

Stay tuned to the magazine and our website, as we’ve got great things planned for the remainder of this eventful year.

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