Chief Financial Officer, Certified Oil
I joined Certified Oil in 1975. As a CPA, my background was in auditing and taxation. Being in the gasoline business with Certified over the past 34 years has made me use every bit of knowledge and experience I acquired just to keep up with the fast pace and complexity of the industry.
It was a different business back then as the company had no convenience stores. All locations were run by independent operators selling fuel under the Certified flag. Each operator managed their own cigarettes and merchandise sales, and grew the convenience business as they saw fit.
Our company’s founder, Carlyle Baker, was a hard working, no-nonsense individual with a keen eye and ability to spot good locations. This was an important part of our development. By 1975 there were hundreds of locations in five states with the Certified brand. Since then, the company and the industry have changed in many ways. First and foremost, we moved into the c-store business in the mid-1980s and acquired a fuel terminal in Columbus, Ohio, which was sold in 2004 to Sunoco. During that time, we became an industry leader in the blending of ethanol with gasoline, which now is done almost universally.
When Carlyle died suddenly in 1998, Peter Lacaillade took over as president and CEO and asked me to become his chief operating office and chief financial officer. It has been a fascinating experience to work with him over the last 12 years. We are more profitable than ever with 80 company-owned stores in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia.
Under Peter’s leadership major changes were made, including completely rebuilding and remodeling dozens of stores. This was done entirely from internally generated funds, which has always been a tradition at Certified. Today, the company is still debt free and the balance sheet is as strong as ever.
Since 1975 the changes in the way the company operates have been remarkable. There is a strong commitment to clean, well-merchandised convenience stores and providing superior customer service. The advancements in retail technology have been equally impressive. The technology just keeps on changing and getting better, and so does Certified Oil.