Team Oil secures its future as an employee-focused organization by promoting from within.
By Erin Rigik, Associate Editor.
Tony and Eric Huppert, owners of Team Oil Inc. of Spring Valley, Wis., have promoted Carrie Vanasse to head of operations, following Tony’s announcement this year of his upcoming retirement. The succession plan was implemented to secure the future of the 35 employees of Team Oil Travel Center.
“Sept. 23, 2013, my birthday, is my goal for retirement. I turn 62,” Huppert said.
The announcement coincides neatly with Vanasse’s college graduation. She graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin on Dec. 15 and has been part of the Team Oil squad for almost five years.
“I’ve been going to school for accounting, so they let me help with the book work,” said Vanasse, who began as a clerk with the company during her senior year of high school. “From there I was able to learn more of the managerial tasks, and then I eventually began to help in these areas.”
Vanasse also oversaw the construction and opening of the travel center’s Subway restaurant last April, which drew more than 500 people on opening day and some 2,000 customers during the grand opening celebration. All the while, Vanasse was paying her own way through college with help from her convenience store paychecks.
Tony Huppert noted that promoting someone from inside the company was important in maintaining the company values. Tony and Eric are a father/son team with 50/50 ownership of the company, and note their company philosophy is “Do onto others as you want them to do unto you.”
“Eric and I have specialists come here all the time telling us to cut this or to cut that, and the first thing they usually tell us is to reduce the workforce,” Tony Huppert said. “I don’t buy into that philosophy. C-stores are supposed to offer customers a friendly face and someone to wait on them quickly. When you hire correctly, there is no need to reduce the workforce.”
When it came time to examine candidates to fill Tony’s role following his retirement, Vanasse stood apart because of her hard work and her firsthand knowledge of what it takes to keep the business running smoothly so that customers remain satisfied.
“Eric and I believe small businessmen are artists. If an artist hires someone else to paint a picture, it is no longer his creation. The artist has to nurture and develop a connection with someone before feeling comfortable that the customers will be taken care of and not disappointed when the artist retires,” Tony Huppert said.
Huppert also noted it’s not just anyone who can come in and hold his or her own among a family-run entity. “Can you imagine what it must be like for Carrie to be able to work with my son Eric, the president of Team Oil Inc.; Tina, my daughter, Team Oil’s controller; Trudy, my wife, who is the bookkeeper; and Michele, Eric’s wife, a financial consultant; and myself, the CEO?”
Team Oil also runs a billboard company, a car wash, and is preparing to open a hotel within the next five years. As head of operations, Vanasse will now be overseeing those operations as well.
As Huppert retires, he plans to remain involved in the company, even as he leaves the building to his son and the daily operations to Vanesse. His focus will be on the five-year plan for the company, and he will continue to pursue a more active role in advocacy on behalf of the c-store business, including more trips to Madison. Wis. to meet with legislators.