entrepreneural spirit

Russ Scaramella
Arizona Oil Holdings LLC

Russ scaramella may not have had a specific career in mind growing up, but he's always had a passion for business and working with people. Scaramella channeled that passion into something positive when he and partner Delery Guillory decided to create Arizona Oil Holdings LLC.

Before creating Arizona Oil, Scaramella had already developed his business savvy in the highly competitive restaurantindustry. Serving as chairman and CEO for a 40-unit chain ofrestaurants and sports bars, Scaramella developed an appreciation for franchise operations. Wanting to get out of thetime-consuming restaurant business, Scaramella sold his franchise to launch Arizona Oil with a single Arco am/pm franchisein 1999. Since then, the number of stores has grown to 13,plus an additional Shell station.

"We looked at different opportunities," said Scaramella. "Myexperience was in retail and my partner was in car washes. Weboth love owning real estate and all these factors made owninggas stations a good fit."

Serving as the company's managing partner, Scaramellahandles all the typical day-to-day tasks that come with runninga chain of c-stores. This includes keeping the stores in topworking order, visiting each of the units and making sure thecompany's 150 employees–which Scaramella feels are of paramount importance–are satisfied and provided with what theyneed to keep the chain thriving. Though he does keep on hisemployees, Scaramella also enjoys giving his store managers agreat deal of freedom to help units flourish.

"We want managers to be entrepreneurial," he said. "We wantthem to operate their stores within the parameters we set, butwe also want them to run it as if it were their own business."

To do this, Scaramella encourages store managers and employees to take a creative approach to store operations by staying on top of neighborhood-specific product trends and working closely with its wholesaler, McLane Co. By giving employees the room for originality and the accountability to back it up, Scaramella has seen his stores grow.

"We believe in empowering the people that work for us," saidScaramella. "The corporate staff and store-level employeesmake the company successful. Our job is to give them the toolsto be successful."

Scaramella has created a major daypart destination out ofhis hot food offering. Arizona Oil's stores feature an extensivevariety of baked items and pastries prepared fresh in the store.On top of baked goods, the stores also offer a variety of hotfoods, such as hot dogs, corn dogs, double cheeseburgers andmore. The products, which are popular enough on their own, geteven more attention thanks to the various promotions—suchas two hot dogs for 99 cents—that the chain runs on a monthlybasis.

Store appearance is another facet Scaramella feels has contributed to Arizona's success. All of the stores have recentlygone through a re-imaging to create a clean, comfortable environment for customers. Most of the 14 stores were built fromthe ground up. The acquired buildings were completely guttedand re-imaged. While Scaramella and his crew are enjoying thechain's success, there's always room for more.

"We would like to open additional sites if the right opportunity becomes available," said Scaramella. "We are veryconservative and believe in getting the most out of ourreal estate."

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