Dollars, Cents and Gasoline

Career & Education

Dollars, Cents and Gasoline

Former maths teacher puts subject to good use in new career

Sunday, January 26, 2020

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Donovan Brown is a numbers guy; he has been a fan of accounts and mathematics ever since his days at Tivoli Gardens Comprehensive High School. This love, Brown says, is what lead him to the front of the classroom, and later, to successfully operating a number of service stations in Kingston.

While teaching math and accounts, “a leading service station at the time came calling” and Brown traded his career in the classroom for one in the gasolene retail industry.

“I managed the gas station for about four and a half years, and then I was promoted to a corporate position at another company,” Brown told the Jamaica Observer.

The former teacher would later solidify his relationship with the petroleum industry, becoming his own boss, and under a new platform — the RUBiS' dealer-operated model. He currently runs the well-known and recently renovated RUBiS Service Station at 94 Old Hope Road, which he has operated since 2013.

“If you have the capital, you could find yourself making good returns on the investment, provided that you manage the business prudently,” he advised.

Touting the benefits of the dealer-operated model, Brown believes it is a better operating platform for people interested in getting into the industry, provided they are ready to put in the work. Among the reasons he gave are the fact that RUBiS offers dealers technical support via regular maintenance, frequent testing of the quality of the petrol at sites, and promotion of the branches and their products. He also pointed to financial support, which is provided through creditors, to assist with working capital.

“One of the things that I like to speak about where RUBiS is concerned is the quantity of fuel that gets to a service station. With other companies in the past, the loss that dealers and operators usually suffered had to do with how the product was handled... Invariably, you normally didn't get what you paid for, and that cost used to have to be absorbed by the dealers. Back in the day, it was quite exorbitant,” he explained.

But with RUBiS, he said, “loss of product has been reduced significantly”.

“That means money is back in the hands of the persons who buy the fuel, and that is the dealer. That's a big plus, because when you move a loss from 1.5 or 2 per cent to under 0.5 per cent, that's huge,” Brown told Career & Education.

The businessman stressed that maths has been useful in his business, as, in an entrepreneurial climate where thousands of businesses fail each year simply because the numbers don't add up, his numbers background has allowed him to make important financial decisions concerning the assets and liabilities of his business objectively.

RUBiS operates in 19 territories across the Caribbean and has a network of over 50 service stations in Jamaica. RUBiS Jamaica is the only petroleum marketing company in the island with its own laboratory and full ownership of shipping vessels.

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