Treasure Mapping Success: Sights from the 2018 Grease Monkey International Conference

I was lucky enough to be invited to attend Grease Monkey’s International Conference at the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos in Mexico in March. I always enjoy getting out and supporting our industry and seeing what the movers and shakers are doing.

At this year’s conference, Grease Monkey celebrated its 40th anniversary. What a great achievement!

First, A Little Fun

The action kicked off with a golf tournament at the beautiful Campestre golf course. The 18-hole Nicklaus Design golf course is laid out over the rolling foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains, with sweeping vistas of the azure Sea of Cortes. Teams of four competed during the afternoon, with Ron Morrow Sr., Shari Morrow, Scott Krinsky and Larry Russell coming out on top. The second place team included Gary Kelley, Bob Sampson, Jim Lautzenheiser and Jose Sada. Closest-to-the-pin winners were Susan Hynes and Rick Tremper.

Time with Execs and Vendor Partners

FullSpeed Automotive, parent company of Grease Monkey, had a couple of new executive appointments in the weeks preceding the conference, and these executives were on hand during the conference.

Kevin Kormondy, who spent more than 20 years with Big O Tires in various positions including executive vice president/COO, was named President and Chief Operating Officer for both Grease Monkey and SpeeDee brands effective February 28, 2018.

With the addition of Kormondy to the executive team, Ralph Yarusso became the Chief Development Officer.

New FullSpeed Automotive Board Director Larry Day was on-hand, as well. Day has many years of experience serving the automotive aftermarket. In the 1990s, he served as CEO of Monro Muffler/Brake; then moving to TBC Corporation where he served as CEO and Chairman of the Board.

John B. Adams is continuing in his role as FullSpeed Automotive CEO.

Adams and Kormondy each took the mic to address the general session, where they broke several exciting announcements. One of the biggest announcements to come out of the Grease Monkey convention is their corporate charitable partnership with Habitat for Humanity. Grease Monkey and its franchisees will be working together to help raise money for their selected charity this year.

One of my favorite parts of the Grease Monkey International Conference was the Town Hall, where a panel of execs answered questions from the audience. The executives included Lucas Cutler (FullSpeed Automotive Board Member and a partner at CenterOak Partners, which is the investment firm behind FullSpeed Automotive), Kevin Kormondy, John B. Adams, Ralph Yarusso and Larry Day.

During the Town Hall, the panel discussed new incentive programs for expanding licenses and Grease Monkey’s plans to grow the franchise quickly and efficiently. Some great tidbits I learned during the Town Hall were that Grease Monkey has only closed two stores in the last three years. Their veteran’s program was recently named one of the best franchising programs for veterans, and Grease Monkey holds the No. 1 ranking automotive franchise in the SBA rankings.

Here’s a few of my favorite quotes from the Town Hall:

“You can make use of ‘old technology’ — a two-minute meeting with employees in the morning.” –Larry Day

“Investors are looking for Amazon-proof businesses. A unique aspect to this business is that DIFM will continue. Couple that with great service, and you have a moat around the threat from Amazon.” –Lucas Cutler

“We do oil changes and more!” –Ralph Yarusso

Grease Monkey franchisees had several sessions to choose from that focused on the needs of their businesses — from customer experience to multi-facility ownership and technical workshops.

Several vendors were on-hand for the vendor show. Not only did attendees get to learn about the latest products in the industry available to them, but they were also eligible to win a lot of great prizes donated by vendors. During the vendor show, ISI was named the Vendor of the Year.

One thing is for sure; Grease Monkey is staying on the cutting-edge of customer service, marketing and expansion. They’ve got big plans, and we can’t wait to watch how they achieve them.

The Best of the Best

There were plenty of achievements recognized at the Grease Monkey International Conference — isn’t that the most fun part? The Platinum Circle Awards were announced on day two of the conference. In all, 36 winners were recognized including: Clint Brown; Don Crane and Mike Walker; Drew & Kimie Utsler; Marcus White; Mark, John & Nora Fairfield; Michael Moore; Steve & Gloria Sessums; Tyson Daniels; Wayne Glasser, Mike Glasser and Silver Martinez; Brett Carter; Butch & Lori Hammett and Jason Whitehurst; Lotti & Keith Merrill; Robert & Amy Rodriguez; Doug Rushing & Monte Thurston; Jim Cook; Josh Hargrove; Jim & Laura Koval; Jon Crum; Retail Operations Kenneth Greffin and Shawn Hammond; Retail Operations Ron Morrow Jr, and Tom Barnes, Brandon Richardson, Pat Sandoval, Robert Wilson, Adam Story, and Ed Ivaska; Retail Operations Laurie Hodges, Luke Cutlip, Phil Mendell, Steve Temple and Ambrose Ryan, Mark Smith, Chris Currull, Cody Currull, Deon James, Danny Dunn, Patrick Pettis, and Shane Ferrell.

The conference wrapped up on the final evening with an awards dinner. It was a lot of fun watching franchisees become inducted into the Million Dollar Club and the new Two Million Dollar Club, which inducted its first member, Wayne Glasser of Oilex. Also, Wayne and Angie Glasser, of Oilex, and Grease Monkey Franchisee of the Year, were recognized at the International Franchise Association (IFA) Franchisee of the Year award ceremony in Washington, DC. Way to go!

Diamond Circle Awards were presented to Oscar Aceves & Luis Aceves; Dan Farmer; Mark & Susan Hynes and Eric Clarke; Tyson Daniels; Drew & Kimie Utsler; Oilex — Wayne Glasser, Mike Glasser and Silver Martinez; Loren & Tish Fletcher; Butch & Lori Hammett, Jason Whitehurst and Phil Walters; Jim & JoAnn Wheat; Ron Morrow Jr., Chris Campbell and Ted Woods. Double Diamond Circle Awards were presented to Oilex — Wayne Glasser, Mike Glasser and Silver Martinez; CBC Oil and Wash — Jey Darbonne, Adam Westbroek and Gary Peterson; and Ron Morrow, Jr. and Dwain Williams. Triple Diamond Circle Awards were presented to Al & Lisa Miller and Adam Miller; and Pat & Valinda Dattilio. A Four Diamond Circle Award was presented to Laurie Hodges, Luke Cutlip, Phil Mendell, Steve Temple and Doug Currul. While the brand-new Five Diamond Champion Award and Two Million Dollar Club Award were presented to Wayne Glasser, Oilex.

The Top 10 Awards were presented to the top system performers (from 10 to 1): Wayne Glasser, Oilex; John Cloward, Nick Bitton and Steve Cloward; Tony Zimbicki, Jr.; John Cloward, Nick Bitton and Steve Cloward; Ron Morrow, Jr.; Wayne Glasser, Oilex; John Cloward, Nick Bitton and Steve Cloward; Al & Lisa Miller and Adam Miller; Pat & Valinda Dattilo; and Wayne Glasser, Oilex.

Congratulations to all of this year’s Grease Monkey award winners. It was a pleasure attending the Grease Monkey International Conference — we’ll see you next time!

Tammy Neal

TAMMY NEAL has been the editor and creative team lead at National Oil and Lube News since 2012.