O&A Masthead

Colorado News —
October 2017

Columnist — Joyce Trent

PALISADE — Let us put up a sign so people can see it — or say goodbye to our business, a petroleum company is warning town fathers here.

Golden Gate Petroleum, headquartered in Martinez, CA., which wants to erect a 4,200-square-foot convenience store with an eleven-dispenser fueling station, said a 60-foot sign is necessary because its site, just off the eastbound ramp of I-70, sits way below the interstate.

"It's kind of in a hole here," said Craig Munson, general manager of operations for California and Nevada. "It really doesn't make much sense to us to spend that much money with no way to present our business. The sign must be high enough to read before approaching the exit."

Colorado flag

The City Planning Commission approved a variance of 40 feet over the maximum 20 allowed under the town's code, but a group of residents have filed an appeal. Allowing one company to break the standards sets a precedent for others that would adversely affect the town, they said.

Munson said his company has bent over backwards to serve the town as well as its own interests.

The back of the sign, facing Palisade, would be designed to blend in with the surrounding cliffs. Only the lighted portion would face the interstate.

The convenience store would promote the town by offering winery maps and selling local products.

He said the town would benefit in other ways from a surge in traffic. Many motorists would tour the area attractions.

But the opposing group, headed by resident Tim Wedel, said not only would such a large sign break with existing standards, but the bright flashing lights would ruin the town's rural image.

A hearing will be held on the issue. No date has been set.

If the new convenience store is to be built, the project needs to start soon. It had been scheduled for ground-breaking in October with an opening in the spring.

DENVER — Gasoline prices in Colorado jumped 18 cents in the week after Hurricane Harvey hit, at one point exceeding the average price of a gallon of unleaded in Texas.

Texans were paying an average of $2.54 at that time while Colorado motorists had to pony up $2.57, although that was still ten cents below the national average. The cost has since leveled out.

Colorado gets the bulk of its gasoline from South Dakota and Wyoming.

CASTLE ROCK — Avalon Young, a resident here, recently won a 7-Eleven franchise in a giveaway competition. It was the company's first prize to promote ownership of the 7-Eleven convenience stores by women.

She can choose any franchise available in the country and also will receive $10,000 to donate to the charity of her choice.

She is working toward a degree in actuarial sciences and business management at Colorado State University. But she has eighteen years of retail experience under her belt.

DENVER — Should the state follow the city of Boulder's lead and enact a sugar tax on soft drinks? That is one suggestion of a panel studying how to finance Colorado's future water needs.

At one cent per dollar purchased, it is estimated the fee would raise $70 million a year.

That would be a drop in the bucket of an estimated $20-billion-dollar cost to handle the state's needs by 2020.

Boulder passed an excise tax of two cents per ounce on the distribution of beverages with added sugar. The tax took effect in July.

EVERGREEN — It's a gasoline station, but it's way more than that. It's a welcoming little cafe for travelers.

The first thing one notices about The Gas Station (that is its real name) is its huge fireplace and homey decor. Then the visitor sits down to choose from items like homemade omelettes or cinnamon roll French toast or a breakfast sandwich. A lunch favorite is a hot pastrami sandwich with onions and cheese. Baked goods are also available.

Those who need gluten-free can find it there.

DENVER — Waterworks at 3rd and Broadway marked 30 years in business by offering five full-service washes for half price and rolled back prices to 1987 — a wash of any size for $6.99.

For each wash performed Waterworks donated one dollar to the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

CRIPPLE CREEK — For a long time motorists in this gambling town had to roll the dice as to whether they had enough gasoline to get back home, as the only place to fill up was on an out-of-the-way road most visitors didn't know about — and it closed at night.

So the Wildwood Casino decided to take action.

The casino constructed the Gas N' Roll convenience store and gasoline station across the street from its main entrance on the main route into the city. The store has a casino theme and stocks 2,800 items, ranging from gourmet coffee to grab-and-go hot food. It has eight state-of-the-art pumps.

"It's something we have needed for a long time," said Mayor Bruce Brown.

LONGMONT — A man told police he went on a convenience store robbing spree because he lost his job and was too embarrassed to tell his wife.

So Jose Martinez said he supported his family for several months by robbing 10 convenience stores in various areas of the state.

Caught after the eleventh robbery, he admitted he wasn't a very good thief because he couldn't bring himself to hurt anyone if they refused to give up the money. That happened once when an elderly clerk turned him down. He just ran away.

It wasn't a very lucrative lifestyle. He said the most he ever got from one store was $200.

PARKER — A woman was re-united with her grandfather's prized World War II dog tags after two teens working at X-Press car wash found them in a vacuum cleaner and went on a mission to find the owner.

On the internet Collin Baker and Matthew Hill discovered the original owner of the tags, Michael Mercurio, had died in 2004. They took their find to a TV station that aired a story about the hunt for the current owner.

That was the granddaughter, Mary Ann Mercurio Graves. A friend of hers saw the broadcast and called her. The teens returned the tags to her after school.

Of her grandfather, she said, "I loved him and I miss him." She said she carried the dog tags in her wallet and they must have fallen out into her car.

Her husband, seeing the car needed cleaning, took it to the car wash where the dog tags apparently became entangled in the vacuum.

"I'm forever grateful," said Graves, of the youths' kindness. "In a world where you hear so many bad things and not a lot of good about teenagers, they went a step above."

DENVER — Grease Monkey is based in Colorado but the lube chain has locations in Mexico, China and Saudi Arabia and is now focused on South America.

A year ago the firm opened the first quick lube business in existence in Colombia, a country once known more for its notorious drug cartels. Now that things have settled down motorists there are trying to live more stable lives and that includes caring for their vehicles.

In Medellin, the practice had been to have most maintenance done by small independent automotive repair shops. Now residents, especially the expanded female trade, want "less hassle, more hustle," company spokesmen said.

The firm found the perfect entrepreneur to establish its first Grease Monkey site — Juan Luis Saldarriaga. He had 30 years of experience in the oil, lube, and auto service industries.

From the start, Saldarriaga decided his shop would be distinguishable from other auto service shops in the city. That included constructing the traditional brick building with the red and white Grease Monkey logo prominent on the faćade.

Because residents in Colombia often keep their cars for twenty years, he designed an interior that would emphasize cleanliness to show the job would be done with great care. He said it keeps customers, especially women, coming back, an especially vital component of a new business.

He purchased cutting-edge equipment not available in Colombia. It had to be imported from the United States.

Next he had to train his employees, so he established a training center where they would not only learn the basics, but could continue to upgrade their skills. He found many excited people to teach.

Then came building the customer base. Advertising the concept of in-and-out oil changes was one thing. But because most people at the Grease Monkey were first-time customers it was important to build rapport so they would return.

Saldarriaga offers additional services common in the states, such as coolant flush, power steering and transmission fluid change, and air filter replacement.

The price of motor oil is higher than in the states but labor and building construction costs are lower.

Corporate is pleased with what Saldarriaga has achieved. "There were many hurdles to overcome with sourcing items in Colombia, but Juan Luis was very diligent," said Rick Juarez, director of purchasing and regional director of Grease Monkey International.

Grease Monkey is looking for more opportunities in the country.

Originally published in the October 2017 issue of the O&A Marketing News.
Copyright 2017 by KAL Publications Inc.

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