It was during the early 1980’s when John Lewis, a real estate professor at Florida State University, opened a Super-Lube Oil Change Center. Lewis grew the company to more than 70 centers. In 1999 Lewis decided to sell 50 of the stores to an Atlanta based company. Now, fast-forward to the year 2006. Enter business partners Tom Chambasian, — the 2014 National Oil & Lube News Operator of the Year — John Theisen, Chet Bojanowski and Aimann Hafez who purchased the remaining 20-plus Super-Lube stores. Chambasian and Hafez run the company today.
“At the time we had five carwash operations, 22 oil change centers and five repair shops. Today, we have 41 oil change centers, five repair shops, nine carwashes and 10 franchises,” Chambasian said. “The franchises are in Wisconsin and Illinois, but we have corporate stores in Wisconsin, Illinois, Florida and Alabama. The reason for the distance is because John, Chet and I had a company of 50 stores that we sold in 2004, so we still have a lot of professional relationships from that time. In 2006, when we bought [Super-Lube], there were 20 stores in the capital city of Tallahassee, Florida. The seller had done a good job of growing the chain in the city. We bought a really well run organization and continued to grow it.”
Chambasian and Hafez didn’t have to do much when they bought Super-Lube. They decided to continue doing the things that had made the chain successful to that point.
“We have an open-door policy, if an employee wants to pick up the phone and talk to Aimann or me, they can. We added a new computer system, updated vehicle procedures and increased employee training, but that’s really all we did,” Chambasian said.
Since the purchase in 2006, Super-Lube has continued to grow in the markets they operate in, but it hasn’t happened by chance.
“We work hard to take care of our employees and customers. We provide our employees with good benefits and 401k packages. We never want to be so big that we don’t know our people. That’s important to me. I like walking into a store and recognizing the faces, knowing something about the manager and being able to have a conversation with them about their family,” Chambasian said. “As far as the customer, it’s always rewarding taking care of them and providing them with the services we know they need to take care of their second largest investment. We, like doctors, help people maintain the health of their cars.”
Super-Lube has a small group of 10 franchised stores, and they’ve strategically kept it small. Super-Lube is able to work closely with their franchisees and offer to them products, savings, employee and marketing training on a personalized scale. As a brand, Super-Lube pride’s themselves on being great. They require franchisees to follow the same training guidelines, policies and procedures as their corporate stores. Keeping things small helps them spend quality time to help them grow and improve. They can do that with a small model.
Chambasian said they are open to growing their franchised stores for the right individual, whether an investor looking to grow and add stores or someone who wants to own and operate one location rather than work for someone else.
“One is not better than the other,” Chambasian said. “They both have benefits. Some people aren’t cut out to handle a chain and just want to open and close the door to their own shop while others want to hire people to run several shops.”
Super-Lube started with 20 stores, and 10 years later, they have 60 locations. They are looking to expand in Florida, Alabama and Georgia where Chambasian said there is a lot of room for growth.
“We’re going to focus in the next few years on those states in a 300-400 mile radius,” Chambasian said.
If you are interested in learning more about Super-Lube or their franchise opportunities, Chambasian invited you to give him a call and come for visit.
“Call me. I can have a brief conversation with you over the phone. If it sounds like something you want to continue pursuing, come down and [participate in] a ‘discovery day.’ You’ll visit my office, staff and some of our locations. I want you to be able to get a feel for what we do and how we do it. If you’ve never been a part of the industry, I want you especially to spend time in the stores and observe,” Chambasian said. “It’s important to learn and understand what it takes to do this job.”