2018 Operator of the Year: A Very Family Affair

Dec. 1, 2018
Dave and Joye Griffin have built up quite the family business. That “family” now includes more than 500 employees across multiple businesses: 56 Jiffy Lube locations (with two more under construction), two detailing centers, three carwashes, a collision center and one Mighty Auto Parts franchise.

Dave and Joye Griffin

In this industry, it isn’t uncommon for children to follow in their parents’ footsteps, and it also isn’t uncommon for those children to believe their parents have run the family business better than just about anyone else.
Joye, with DJ in her arms, and Dave, with Jeff in his arms, at the original Griffin's Golden Glow Center in Ogden, Utah, circa 1983.

In the case of Jeff Griffin, CEO of Griffin’s Golden Glow and Lincoln Distributing, his testament to his parents really highlights just what special people Dave and Joye Griffin are and why they are so very worthy of the prestigious 2018 NOLN Operator of the Year award.

“Their story, how it all began, their success in the automotive industry and what they are doing to continue to innovate and grow our business, speaks alone to their achievements,” Jeff told NOLN in his nomination letter.

Car care runs deep in the Griffin's blood. (Pictured from l. to r.) Alton Griffin (Dave's dad), Dave Griffin, Spencer Griffin and Steve Griffin (Dave's brothers).

“I feel like the most important aspect to what my parents have built comes in the form of the team they have built,” he added. “As a husband and wife, they have worked side by side for almost 40 years. My two brothers and I all chose to work together with them in our family business. Not only have we worked together as a family since the family business began in 1979, but along the way, we have also hired and found some of the industry’s best and most dedicated employees who have worked with our family and as an extension of our family. Many have worked with us for decades, growing with us and helping us build what our company is today.”

Dave and Joye Griffin have built up quite the family business. That “family” now includes more than 500 employees across multiple businesses: 56 Jiffy Lube locations (with two more under construction), two detailing centers, three carwashes, a collision center and one Mighty Auto Parts franchise.

Family is where Dave and Joye are truly rich. It is just one reason, among so many, why the Griffins stand out as this year’s Operator of the Year.

Oil and Water Do Mix

Dave and Joye, who have been married for 39 years, will be the first to admit that neither grew up with silver spoons in their mouths. Instead, both probably had dirt under their nails from working in the world of automotive service. Each of their families ran small businesses — something that instilled a serious work ethic in them, which they passed on to their children.

“My grandpa had a full-service gas station in Clarkston, Utah,” Joye said. “As a little girl, I started out cleaning windows, but soon after, I was pumping gas at the station.”

For Dave, who grew up on a small farm not too far away from the woman he would one day marry, his journey began on the detailing side of automotive service.

“My dad leaned into washing cars and doing detailing, and I was working there as a teen,” Dave, who has always had a love for vehicles, told NOLN. “In that way, I came from water, washing cars, and Joye came from oil; so, we’re proof that oil and water can mix.”

Today, in Joye’s office there is a painting of her grandfather’s gas station, while in Dave’s office hangs a photograph of the carwash. Those images serve as reminders of their humble beginnings, but also highlight how far they’ve each come in the automotive service world.

This mix of oil and water began in 1979, when both Dave and Joye were attending Utah State University. They started a detailing service at a local dealership after hours. After their homework was done, together they would wash and detail cars.

This part-time business eventually led them to open Griffin’s Golden Glow Center in Ogden, Utah. The detail center shared a parking lot with a new-concept business that was located on 36thand Lincoln Avenue in Ogden. This new business, called a fast lube, was just the beginning. The concept intrigued Dave and Joye. Little did they know, one day that exact business would be theirs, and they would play a small part in Jiffy Lube’s history.

Ribbon cutting at the grand opening of the carwash in 1999.

Dave and Joye continued to grow their detail business. In 1999, they built their first carwash and wanted to have a fast lube be a part of it. Dave and Joye incorporated a Q Lube into their carwash — but only for one month. After the Pennzoil and Quaker State merger (which was happening as the Griffins were opening their first carwash and quick lube), their Q Lube was converted into a Jiffy Lube — and also within the first 60 days of the Pennzoil conversion, they acquired 11 more Jiffy Lube shops in the three northern counties of Utah.

In 2008, as the US fell into the Great Recession, Griffin Fast Lube began to grow, taking over distressed markets within Jiffy Lube. In 2008, Dave and Joye were operating 12 stores in Northern Utah, doing just under $5 million a year in revenue. Over the course of 18 months, they acquired 15 stores in Reno, Nevada, and 25 stores in Colorado, nearing $30 million a year in revenue. The Denver market for Jiffy Lube had been a carousel of ownership and had struggled for more than a decade. Since those acquisitions, Dave and Joye have continued to grow the Jiffy Lube brand through new store builds, relocating old stores and more acquisitions. Denver has turned into one of Jiffy Lube’s largest growing markets. With 15 stores in the Denver metro area doing just over $12 million in annual revenue, these stores have more than doubled their annual sales in the 10 years the Griffins have operated them. Also, many Denver stores have almost doubled in car counts.

“As a long-time Jiffy Lube franchisee, they have been instrumental in the evolution of our trusted Jiffy Lube brand,” said Denny Reiner, director of marketing for Jiffy Lube International, Inc. “They have been at the forefront in testing services and programs over the years, as well as sharing best practices with Jiffy Lube franchisees across the network.”

Vertical Integration: Caring for Cars, Beyond Oil Changes

Over the years there have been many factors that have led to the Griffins’ success — taking care of their employees, serving their customers and making smart business decisions. One of the smart business decisions Dave and Joye have made has been to vertically integrate their car care business. This allows them to serve their customers in all of their car care needs — from maintenance to wash and detail to collision repair.

Griffin’s Golden Glow — their original business venture — operates two detail centers and one carwash in Utah, as well as two carwashes in Colorado. In 2012, they also opened a 35,000 square-foot body collision center in Bountiful, Utah. The collision center takes care of anything from small scratches and dents to full vehicle restorations. It is one of the largest body shops in Northern Utah.

In 2018, Dave and Joye expanded their automotive footprint by adding a Mighty Auto Parts franchise in Colorado Springs, Colorado. This vertical integration has proven to be a great addition to their growing fast lube business. Their 25,000 square-foot warehouse opened a few months ago in Colorado Springs, and they are in the process of adding their own Jiffy Lubes to the already existing Mighty customer base.

The Griffins and Mighty team came together at the 2018 SEMA Show. (Pictured from l. to r.) Gary Vann, Sr. VP Sales & Marketing, Mighty; Ken Voelker, president and CEO, Mighty; David McCabe, Director, Franchise Sales & Development, Mighty; Dave Griffin; Joye Griffin; Jeff Griffin; DJ Griffin; John Griffin; Tim Bowlick, Chemical Sales & Training Manager, Mighty; Josh D'Agostino, Executive VP Sales and Business Development, Mighty.

“There is no doubt about it; Dave and Joye have a history of success,” said Ken Voelker, president and CEO of Mighty Distributing Systems of America. “They started detailing cars when they were in college and used an uncanny entrepreneurial spirit to build their organization. They are certainly hard working, suit up, show up and get the job done kind of people”

For the Griffins, the ability to support their shops with an auto parts supplier is a true win-win and shows real forward thinking.

“By servicing our own shops, it allows for better inventory management, and that has become vital for our business success,” Joye said.

“I like to say, we have the best partners in our back pocket, as Mighty offers some of the best auto parts products in the nation, and we have Pennzoil and Shell products as well,” Dave said. “That helps us succeed above the rest. We can provide our customers with all their needs and offer top-line products.”

Dave and Joye have also been influencers in the automotive industry for advancing technology and marketing to millennials. They were the first Jiffy Lube franchisee to have all of their stores adopt digital inspections by creating the Cherry Inspect app.

This digital inspection app is the most used platform within the Jiffy Lube system, with almost 500 Jiffy Lubes using the app to perform and share digital inspections with their customers. The Cherry Inspect app is used by many others in the automotive industry, including Grease Monkey, Big O Tires, Midas, TBC, Uber, Chevron Lube, Havoline xpress lube, Precision Tune Auto Care, Castrol Premium Express Lube, Goodyear and other national and local brands and shops.

Cherry has partnered with large point-of-sale partners with 10,000-plus tire customers, and Cherry has also found great partnerships with other automotive tech companies, like Carfax, Hunter Engineering, Bartec Tread and TPMS and B2Q battery testers.

Griffin Fast Lube has been innovators in the industry, finding better ways to market to millennials, hire and train employees and grow their business.

NOLN is not the first organization to take notice of the Griffin’s success. The duo was honored as Jiffy Lube’s Operator of the Year in 2008 and again in 2013. They also received Jiffy Lube’s Fleet Growth Award in 2009 and were Jiffy Lube’s Franchisee of the Year in 2010. Earlier this year, they were recognized at the Multi Unit Franchisee Convention, presented by franchising.com, with the prestigious MVP Single Brand award for growth within Jiffy Lube.

The Family Business

Dave and Joye have built a successful multi-faceted business and provided a solid future for their three sons and 10 grandchildren. It is a true testament of success when your children eagerly follow in your footsteps. Eldest son, DJ, serves as CEO at the Griffin Fast Lube family of companies, where he focuses on running the family’s Jiffy Lube service centers. Middle son, Jeff, is CEO of Lincoln Distributing and Griffin’s Golden Glow; he manages all of the aspects of the Mighty franchise and oversees future development and acquisitions for Griffin’s Golden Glow. Youngest son, John, is CEO at Cherry, helping shops elevate their digital inspections and market to millennials.

“Our culture from generation to generation is simply about the love of work,” Dave said.

“We didn’t start out with a family business in mind,” Joye added. “Our sons worked with us when they were younger, but once they graduated from college, we didn’t want them to feel they had to go into the family business. They chose to come into it.”

All three sons said that while a world of opportunities was open to them, the ability to work with family in a business they all loved was really the best opportunity. If there is any downside to it, it’s that work often dominates the conversation at the dinner table.

“We spend a lot of time talking about work,” DJ said. “It helps when we’re there with the kids, but we do try to do things together that are separate from work. It would be a lie to say that work pops up in conversation only infrequently.”

For this close-knit clan, it could be said that the family that works together really does stay together.

“We all had our coming of age moments when we thought ‘I don’t know if this is for me,’” said John, who started helping at the shop when he was about 12 years old. “Ultimately, we all saw that this is so much more than changing oil. This business has given us so many opportunities — not just to my brothers and me — but to all the technicians who start out just trying to make an honest living doing a hard day’s work.”

The brothers watched their parents take risks along the way, but as they grew older their parents’ vision became more clear.

“There have been those times when you question the judgment of taking on so much more,” DJ admitted. “But my parents have shown that with their work ethic anything was possible. It shaped who we are today.”

Connection to the Employees and Customers

This extremely close family bond isn’t limited to those with the last name Griffin. Joye explained that it is vital to maintain a close relationship throughout the company — even with more than 500 employees that they consider family.

“It is a culture in our organization,” she told NOLN. “We may not know everyone personally, but between our sons and the management, we make sure everyone’s voice counts.”

Each year the Griffin clan takes time to travel to every single shop, so at least one of them can meet with each and every employee, giving them a Christmas turkey and thanking them for a job well done. It isn’t hard to see why many of the Griffins’ employees have made it a career, not just another job.

“Beyond our sons, we have men and women who have been with us for 10, 15 and 20 years,” Dave said. “We have employees who started as service techs, worked their way to leadership roles and have been with us 20 years. I’m proud to say some of these people aren’t even 40 years old yet and have full careers ahead of them.”

This familial bond also extends to many long-time customers, as well.

“We do have a relationship with our customers, and year after year we’ve built a trusted alliance with them,” Dave said. “We often tell our customers, ‘before you sell your car, let us take out the scuffs, clean the dirt and grime and give it a good service. Then, you decide if you really need a new car.’”

Connecting With the Community

Through their businesses, the Griffins also have built up a close connection to the community. As business leaders, they explained it is vital today that companies such as theirs do as much as they can to help those in need.

“We do what we can for veterans,” said Dave, who told how his father was a World War II paratrooper in the 11th Airborne. “We provide a free oil change on Veterans Day to those who are current military, as well as those who served our country. It is something I know my dad would have liked.”

They are all members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and volunteer in many aspects of their church. And, they have also focused many of their volunteer efforts on children.

“We’ve been involved with Make-A-Wish Utah to help children with life threatening illnesses, and we’ve also been long supporters of the Boomer Esiason Foundation (which helps to raise money, awareness and support for the cystic fibrosis community),” Joye said.

Joye served on the board of Make-A-Wish Utah for six years and served one year as Board Chair. She helped Make-A-Wish Utah grow and grant countless wishes to children who have battled through horrible illnesses and disease. Recently, Griffin’s Golden Glow provided a classic car restoration to grant the wish of a teenager who had dreams of owning a muscle car.

Some of the most amazing charitable work the Griffins have been involved with helped a family in their own organization.

Jeff Kiersch — currently the VP of Operations for Griffin Fast Lube — and his wife Mandee welcomed a baby boy, Jagger, into the world in 2012. Jagger is a very special, “miracle” child. As a newborn, Jagger was diagnosed with the genetic ailment of SCID — better known as “bubble boy” syndrome. After two failed stem cell transplants, Jagger was later diagnosed with Complete DiGeorge Syndrome, which has the same hallmarks as SCID and the same dangers. The disease is almost uniformly fatal within the first 24 months if left untreated.

The remarkable thing is, two years before Jagger's birth, Dave and Joye asked Jeff and Mandee to move to Colorado to operate their Colorado locations. Colorado started the newborn screening that caught Jagger's rare disease the month he was born. If the Kiersch family would have stayed in Nevada, Jagger may have had a different story.

Dave and Joye rallied around the Kiersch family to help save their little boy. They worked with their insurance, donated private funds and provided support for Jeff, Mandee and Jagger. They even allowed Jeff to be with his family in North Carolina while Jagger received treatments at Duke University Hospital for six months. During that time, Jagger received an experimental thymus transplant that, in the end, gave him a functioning immune system. Eventually, Jagger returned home, where he continued to thrive and is now able to do most things a typical child can do.. It was truly a miracle.

“It took almost four years to keep him alive, and now to see him as a normal, happy, healthy boy is a huge blessing,” Jeff Griffin said.

The continued support from Dave and Joye allowed the Kiersch family to devote time and energy to focus on Jagger while this miracle happened.

"We do not know what we would have done without the support of Dave and Joy," Jeff and Mandee said. "It is truly a blessing to be part of their family."

(You can read more about Jagger’s incredible fight for life in this article by the Denver Post)

Life Beyond Work

Although they are involved in many different aspects of the automotive industry, the Griffin family does find time to take a break once in a while. Living in the Rocky Mountains, it shouldn’t be surprising this family loves to be outdoors.

“We do fit in some fun things in our lives. Our youngest grandchildren will start to (snow) ski this year,” Joye said. “That’s what we do in the winter. In the summer, we’re out on the lake on the boat.”

When not on the slopes or on the boat, chances are that Dave is on his horse on the family farm, where his children and grandchildren enjoy riding ATVs. Actually, over the years, trying to unwind might have been one of the biggest challenges for Dave.

“It might sound clichéd, but I didn’t know how to play when I married Joye. And it took her a couple of decades until she taught me how to unwind and enjoy the journey,” he said.

What a journey it has been. This all-American family has a hardcore work ethic and has enjoyed the success that has come with it.

“Our sons have been a huge part of this and we couldn’t have done it without them,” said Joye, ever the proud mom. “We joke the boys were raised with shovels not silver spoons, but they’ve earned what they have and we are proud that we’ve remained so close in the process.”

It is truly an honor to recognize Dave, Joye and the whole Griffin family as the 2018 NOLN Operator of the Year.

From the Fellow Zees

DJ, Joye, Dave, Jeff and John Griffin with Patrick Southwick, president of Jiffy Lube International (middle right), at the 2018 SEMA Show.

Dave and Joye Griffin have been more than just successful Jiffy Lube franchisees since they joined the system in 1999; they have been brand ambassadors, innovators and industry leaders. Dave, Joye and their sons are known for running great customer-focused operations and treating their employees as extended family members. In doing so, their success has allowed them to grow to a chain of over 55 service centers, across three states, in under 20 years.

Earlier this year, Dave and Joye were recognized at the Multi Unit Franchisee Convention, presented by franchising.com, with the prestigious MVP Single Brand award for growth within Jiffy Lube.

Besides running their business, the Griffins dedicate tremendous amounts of time and resources helping their fellow Jiffy Lube franchisees. They have been involved with various Jiffy Lube Association of Franchisees (JLAF) committees, including our Marketing Committee and the Customer Experience Committee. Dave has also served on our organization’s Board of Directors and Executive Committee for multiple years. The Griffins have gladly shared their experiences with our peers across the network and provided a sounding board for franchisees who have new ideas on how to make their businesses better.

Dave and Joye on the Red Carpet at the Mitt Romney Fight Night fundraiser.

Besides being known for their solid operational acumen, the Griffins may be best known in the Jiffy Lube system as tremendous innovators. They have worked hard to use technology to better serve their customers and make their stores more efficient. They have a unique cloud-based communication system that allows them to communicate consistent messages to their district managers and store managers, across three states. They have also utilized a remarkable security camera system to help reinforce their consistent customer-focused values. The Griffins may be most notable for their use of technology to enhance their business by developing a digital inspection system using an iPad. This system, Cherry Inspect, allows their employees to quickly capture the results of a vehicle inspection, with pictures, and easily and professionally communicate those results to their customers.

Dave and Joye Griffin are leaders not just in the Jiffy Lube system, but in the quick lube industry. They, along with their family, have made our business better by always asking themselves, “how can we better serve our guests and better support our family of team members” and then being open to share their practices with other Jiffy Lube franchisees. I cannot think of another operator that is more deserving of being named the NOLN Operator of the Year. Congratulations to Dave, Joye and the entire Griffin family! You have earned it!

Mike Biddle President, Jiffy Lube Association of Franchisees

The Magic of Mom

It’s not often that we get to spend time with the NOLN Operator of the Year before they are officially announced in the December issue of NOLN. However, this year was an exception. Dave, Joye, DJ, Jeff and John attended the SEMA show in Las Vegas, so the NOLN team jumped at the opportunity to congratulate them in person.
Photo credit: Megan Hauze

I had a great chat with Dave. One of his quotes is still cemented in my mind: “Do you know what the magic is that holds us all together? It’s Joye. We have worked side by side every day, for almost 40 years, and then we go home and spend every night together. She is not only a wonderful mom and grandmother, but she is also a leader in our church and heads up all of our charity work. I don’t know how she does it. The boys working with us is great, but Joye — she is the magic that makes this all work.”

Here’s a shoutout to hardworking moms everywhere. I hope we can all be inspired by Joye, as we try to keep it all together, both at work and at home, and spread a little magic everywhere we go.

Thank you Joye. You are an inspiration to all of us moms out there!

Tammy Neal Editor, NOLN