When one thinks of technology savvy companies in Hacienda, there are many from which to choose. It's a little bit surprising, then, that Oil Changer a company which operates 36 automotive maintenance stores across the state has the qualifications to rank among the technology leaders.
"We have a unique computer system that's Internet based that allows us to watch all of our stores, all of the sales points, and all of the labor on a real-time basis," explains Lawrence A. Read, the company's chairman and CEO. "The computers track the time the store opens, the number of cars serviced, average ticket, number of employees working, and more."
In addition to all that data, their network also allows the company's managers to view video captured at each store in real time. By clicking on a menu with a list of their stores, they can observe the work being done at any given time, from the cash register to the garage bays.
"Everything that happens within that store, we have videos so that we can watch procedures and try to tighten them up so that your experience at our stores will be the same, whether you go into the Vallejo store or the San Diego store," Read explains.
It's been so successful, in fact, that they have been contracted to use their computer network to manage several quick lube chains on the East Coast. Read says there is even talk of providing the same service for French petroleum company Elf Aquataine, who would use the excess capacity on the network.
Of course, there's a lot more than computers to changing their customers' oil. For example, the company has set up recycling channels for all of their waste products used oil and oil filters, primarily.
"We recycle 700,000 pounds of used automotive oil filters each year. There is about a pound of ferrous metal in each one and they melt them down in 100-ton buckets the residual oil helps with that process," Read says. "They're all made into steel reinforcing bars which go back into freeways, which I kind of chuckle at they go full circle. All the reinforcing bars that went into the I-680/Highway 24 junction came from used oil filters."
The company is so efficient at recycling, in fact, that it has earned prestigious "Green Certified" status.
The company conducts all their training from their corporate headquarters as well, which is part of why they chose Hacienda 12 years ago.
"We picked it because of BART, because we need to move people in and out for training," Read says. "We have training here everyday, six days a week, ranging from small computer classes of six or seven people up to classes with 35-40 people on technical issues."
Read is proud of the atmosphere and culture that he and his staff has built into the company. "This is a nice place to work. It reflects the people here and the management style that we have, and the people we hire. We go through a hiring process, especially for the corporate office, where the big issue is that other people have to be able to get along with you. We've got really nice people."
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