Founded in 2008 and offering three convenient locations across Calgary and Okotoks, Lube Town is no ordinary express oil change centre nor does its founder have a typical story.
That’s because at Lube Town, one of our founding principles is to go well beyond the basics of making your vehicle run like a well oiled machine. Our aim is to be in the business of doing good. In our world, doing good means going above and beyond to service your vehicle with transparency and efficiency, respecting you as a busy person and also doing good in the communities where we live and operate. You could say our mission is to be your automotive super hero.
A mother of two and a former computer scientist turned MBA candidate, Amy’s been on a mission to leave a positive mark on her community and it just so happens that she’s transformed the express oil change business en route.
As the first female founder, owner and manager of an express lube center, Amy reached business success by honoring her past and fueling on the needs of each customer that passes through her shops.
Amy didn’t know it at the time but an early tire changing tip from her father served as a catalyst for her interest in automotives and later evolved into a desire to transform the industry.
“When I got my driver’s license, my father taught me how to change a tire for fear of me getting stuck on the road with a flat tire,” she recalls. “That was all I knew about cars but soon realized that I knew more about cars than any of my friends.”
In spite of her newly acquired skill and growing automotive confidence, Amy found herself leaving oil changes and vehicle maintenance to her father and husband. When they were too busy, she struggled with the time to plan vehicle maintenance and the thought of leaving her vehicle in the hands of strangers unnerved her.
“I would spend days making appointments and hours waiting for my car to get done,” she says. “I was afraid to ask questions for fear of sounding stupid. I would phone my dad over everything they told me because I was worried I was being taken advantage of,” she admits.
These personal experiences combined with the realization that many of her peers felt the same served as the unconscious foundation for Amy’s journey in transforming the automotive maintenance industry.
Fortunately, lots has changed since Amy’s first tire changes and stressful vehicle maintenance experiences. Now at the helm of Lube Town, Amy has fueled on her past experiences to create a company that is recognized as one of the industry’s local automotive super hero.
By focusing on client satisfaction, incorporating sophisticated computer software, using military call and response methods and leveraging novel client communication tools, vehicle maintenances at Lube Town are faster, more convenient and highly reliable. Staff members are trained to put on their invisible cape, be on the lookout to go out of their way to save the day, and treat every vehicle as if it were their own.
Curious about how we got to this point? Well, we invite you to read more about Amy’s humble and adversity-filled journey leading up to her early Lube Town days and how her personal experiences shaped our company’s vision and daily decisions.
Amy escaped communist-torn Vietnam in the mid 1980’s with her family and established in Calgary (Alberta).
“We started off with no money, no connection and no ability to speak English,” she recalls. “At the same time, we were extremely grateful for this unique chance to start our new life and build new dreams in Canada.”
Determined to make her family proud and make the most of this new life, Amy went on to earn a degree in Computer Science at the University of Calgary in 2000. With her degree in hand, she landed a job as a lead software engineer developing software for the Canadian and US military.
“My work was very cutting-edge, developing control stations for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) used for tactical surveillance for the US and Canadian military,” she explains. “It was very cool and innovative.”
Despite being professionally challenged in her full-time computer science work, Amy felt her innate entrepreneurial potential wasn’t being maximized.
“I always had a hunch that entrepreneurship was my passion but I didn’t know where or how to channel that energy.”
Eager to make the leap into entrepreneurship and unafraid to go all in, Amy quit her stable job and enrolled in the MBA program at the University of Calgary.
Early into her MBA, Amy received an unsolicited call from a family friend offering a partnership opportunity and eventually an ownership position in a mechanic shop.
“I had never done that kind of work before and had to learn everything, from building customer relationships and managing staff to completing basic tasks on the vehicles,” she says.
“I soon learned everything about cars from oil changes to engine replacement. I became genuinely interested in people who came to the shop and developed a good relationship with them. By being honest and going out of my way to offer good service, I received the trust and loyalty of my customers. I never had to sell because customers naturally returned to us following their positive dealings with us. Soon, our database of 400 customers grew to 4000.”
After owning the mechanic shop and gaining valuable experience for five years, Amy identified an opportunity in the quick lube industry in 2008.
“The idea of creating a more convenience-based vehicle service business built around quick oil changes appealed to me. I had the conviction that I could transform that industry with my commitment to an outstanding customer centric approach.”
“I came to understand that clients didn’t come for the brick and mortar. They came for the people. Business was about people. My first love is people and my second my business.”
Amy was eight months pregnant when the first Lube Town store opened in Okotoks during an economic downturn.
“Although there were challenges, we pushed through with our unique business model of offering quick, careful service to each customer.”
Though she swore she’d never opened a store while pregnant, Amy saw an opportunity to open her second store… this time she was five months pregnant.
Today, Amy leads three successful Lube Town stores (and continues to support her two grown children!).
In the early beginnings of Lube Town, Amy realized she could significantly elevate customer express oil change center experiences by incorporating her computer science smarts as well as her military call and response background into her business practices.
“One thing that shocked me very early in the industry was that my franchised competitors in the automotive world could live with a three percent error on the vehicles they serviced,” explains Amy. “That’s three vehicles damaged for every 100 oil change. To me, that was unacceptable and that’s why Lube Town has made it a priority to focus on delivering flawless service on every single vehicle maintenance we perform well before worrying about profits.”
Lube Town’s proprietary military call and response procedures has been the mechanism used to deliver absolute efficiency and reliability. By leveraging a highly rigorous operational flow for each oil change, Lube Town technicians can be fast and precise but never hurried. Every drain plug is checked three times for correctness by two different experts before a vehicle is allowed to leave.
“Something as simple as replacing an oil filter requires a verbal call and confirmation on gasket removal check, a visual confirmation on the gasket check and finally physical confirmation of the removal of the old gasket prior to replacing it with the new one,” tells Amy. “A small thing as forgetting to remove a gasket can cause a double gasket issues where the oil filter is not seated properly, which could results in leaks leading to engine damage. After the gasket check, a pressure test is also used to ensure everything is back in order.”
These are just a small sample of the number of steps involved in Lube Town’s military call and response system to ensure customers’ complete satisfaction.
In addition to transforming the industry with her novel approach to service efficiency and quality, Amy’s also taken great pride in creating a welcoming environment at each Lube Town shop.
“It’s essential to me that Lube Town be a place where vehicle maintenance gurus, rookies, females, males, young and old alike can all feel welcome and respected,” shares Amy. “We’ve made it a priority to create a company where all our customers feel comfortable to ask any question concerning their vehicle and its maintenance.”
Amy’s desire to create an open environment has in part been inspired by her own journey as a young female venturing in a male dominated industry.
“It wasn’t easy but with patience, perseverance and a novel vision, I’ve been able to show how the glass ceiling can be broken and how gender shouldn’t play into smart business practices,” she tells. “I love sharing my story because it inspires young girls and people who started out with nothing that perseverance can take you anywhere. My journey is also a constant reminder that all customers matter – no matter their background and experience.”
All the while her business is growing with each satisfied customer, Amy remains grounded on her true motivation: being thankful for the opportunity she gained by coming to Canada and giving back to her adopted country.
“Lube Town has embraced an unrelenting commitment to being an exemplary community member. It’s something I very much care about and feel a sense of duty for having been granted so much good luck and fortune since arriving here.”
Highlighting this community spirit is the company’s “Lube Town Get & Give Program (5 + 5)” a WIN-WIN community based marketing initiative. As part of this novel program, customers get $5 off their oil change and in turn, Lube Town donates another $5 to community programs. Community donations reach over $16,000 annually.
“During the Fort McMurray fire crisis, we donated $2 from each oil change to the fire relief and victims. It’s just what needed to be done and we did it because we’re that kind of community member,” adds Amy who spends regular time as a dedicated member of the Calgary South Rotary Club. “I want to see the communities where we operate and beyond thrive,” she adds.
Additionally, the company supports many causes including Ducks unlimited, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, the Pioneers, the Okotoks fire department, Feed the Hungry, the Foundation for the Future Charter Academy and the Parkdale Community Association.
While Amy and her team at Lube Town continue to focus on exceeding client expectations one service at a time and remain committed to challenging the status quo in the oil service industry by implementing novel, customer-focused initiatives, their efforts have not gone unnoticed.
Lube Town’s business accomplishments have been recognized in the National Oil & Lube News (NOLN, the industry’s oldest and largest trade publication), putting the company on the map among over 2,000 express lube center in North America.
The company also been a steady recipient of the consumer choice awards in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Amy’s successes were also recognized with Avenue Magazine’s Top 40 under 40 award.
In 2018, Lube Town was named Small Business of The Year by the Okotoks Chamber of Commerce.
Today, Amy overwhelmed with gratitude and her heart is full. She was recently awarded Immigrants of Distinction – Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
Finally, a token worth as much as any award, over 1200, 4.9 stars reviews from loyal customers online.
These recognitions have only served as motivators to Amy and her team who have more ambitions for the quality service they hope to deliver to vehicle owners in the future.
I am overwhelmed with gratitude, and my heart is full. My family and I immigrated to Canada in the late 80s with less than $1 and none of us spoke a word of English. We commit ourselves to never take a penny from the system and never did. My parents worked hard and sacrifice everything so my brothers and I could have an education. We’ve been offered nothing but kindness by all those we met. The few who were not nice to us offered us the most kindness. For because of them, we learned what it meant to be disappointed, how to persevere, how to figure out what we still needed to learn, and how to patiently wait for the next opportunity. Special thanks to my village which includes my family, friends, the Lube Town team, customers, supporters and community for your unwavering support!”