Drawing from Experience

March 31, 2023
Leadership is a full-time job with a lifelong learning curve.

I read through some old news clippings about the 1998 merger between Pennzoil and Quaker State. It was certainly one of the bigger deals to take place in this industry, bringing together the first-and-second-place motor oil names in the U.S. market.

With it came the merger of the affiliated quick lube networks, Jiffy Lube and Q Lube. It was a bit of a shock for these two main competitors in the growing quick maintenance space join forces. Kirk Umphrey, who was president at Q Lubes, described the merger as a “tough pill to swallow.”

That bit of insight from Umphrey comes from this month’s profile, which includes that tidbit and other great insights from his decades of experience in the business. While the Quaker State-Pennzoil merger might have been a logistical challenge, Umphrey stepped up to help ease the transition and set up his future in the Jiffy Lube system. Today, he runs more than 60 locations from his Utah headquarters.

It’s a pleasure to have the perspective of someone like Umphrey in the pages of NOLN. He’s one of those business leaders who clearly takes a thoughtful approach to his role. In his profile story, Umphrey speaks on a range of topics, like growing his business on the Jiffy Lube side, adding a Mighty franchise, and becoming a well-rounded business owner.

Each issue of NOLN strives to be a business leadership manual of sorts, but this month is a standout, if I do say so myself.

This month’s feature story approached the leadership origin story directly. Associate Editor Hanna Bubser interviewed two successful operators about how they built and adapted their skills to manage the people and processes that are foundational to their organizations.

There is a quote in the feature story that stuck with me. It’s from Russ Hotchkiss, a shop operator in Iowa. You can read the context around the quote later in this issue, but I’ll leave you with it here:

“The grass isn’t greener on the other side. Why don’t you water your own lawn?” 

Photo 90925830 | Auto Mechanic Team © Vadimgozhda | Dreamstime.com
Photo 177937583 © Alexey Novikov | Dreamstime.com
Photo 44934840 © Wayne Mckown | Dreamstime.com