‘I like to serve the community because I live here. I see these people every day, whether here at the shop, restaurants or while in the grocery store.’
“We came to this country in 1994 with nothing in our pockets. My first job barely made the end goals. My brother-in-law was in the gas station business. He said, ‘Hey, why don’t you come and join me?’ I started as an outside full-service gas attendant and worked my way up to a night cashier and then a day cashier. My boss saw potential in me and gave me the job of assistant manager at the shop. This was back in 1998, and ever since, I have been running the shop. In June 2021, we took over the whole gas station: the service, the gas as well as the convenience store. My new name, AJ Petroleum, is the first initial of my wife and cousin’s name.
“I like to serve the community because I live here. I see these people every day, whether here at the shop, restaurants or while in the grocery store. It is not just a salesmanship here. I have a relationship with the customers — not just because they have a car, but just because we live in the same area. When I am out with my family on the weekend or day off, I see them. We meet. We talk. It’s not just a relationship that, ‘Hey, you’re my mechanic and that’s it.’ Outside the shop we also have a relationship with the customers.
I take every single car that I bring into the shop personally.
“I try my best to help them in any which way I can. Sometimes they don’t have enough money to pay the whole bill. So I give them the opportunities to pay in payments so at least they can get on the road safely with their cars. Their family members, kids and parents come over here. Our goal is to give them service in the best way possible.
“I have seen it grow a lot. Once they deal with me, they feel pretty comfortable and confident that they can rely on me. The hope for the business is to grow and have a steady clientele. We do that by giving the best service and honest advice. We make sure that we fix only what needs to be fixed. We are not trying to sell to you every time you come here. I tell it like it is and what needs to be done. Then, I give the choice to the customer. And by doing that, I gain their trust that I’m giving them the right opinion. People do value that. I take every single car that I bring into the shop personally. I treat it like it’s my daughter, mother or wife driving the car.”
Interviewed by Victoria Bell