Gas station owner's rise to the top

Career & Education

Gas station owner's rise to the top

Sunday, November 24, 2019

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Owen Chambers comes from humble beginnings in Juan de Bolas, a little-known old Maroon town in the hills of St Catherine. The last of eight children, with the unfortunate circumstance of not knowing his mother, he had dreams of becoming a doctor but quickly dismissed the seemingly lofty career goal as he had only achieved elementary-level education.

Unbeknownst to young Chambers, however, he would go on to enjoy a successful career in the local construction industry by opening his own business specialising in scaffolding for local projects. He would later venture into the local petroleum industry when he became a dealer with RUBiS Energy Jamaica as part of its dealer-operated model.

Chambers explained, “What intrigued me to get into the dealership business was that I had been living in Spanish Town for many years, though I travelled a lot. I'd always seen the Shell Service Station in Spanish Town and I noticed it was always changing hands; there was always a different dealer. So, I had been inquiring with Shell about their dealership. For many years, I was still waiting [for a response] until RUBiS finally took over.”

Today, the 70-year-old directs and manages the popular RUBiS Bridgehouse Service Station, in Spanish Town. The outlet, which he has been operating for the past four years, is normally open 24 hours per day.

RUBiS Energy Jamaica's dealer-operated model provides entrepreneurial opportunities for interested persons as it also seeks to uplift neighbouring communities. The company, which operates as a subsidiary of its France-based parent company, entered the local petroleum trade in 2013. Most notably, it is the only fuel marketing company with its own laboratory at Rockfort, ensuring continuous testing of the quality of its fuels and with full control of its fleet of shipping vessels, which guarantees the quality of the product from source to the end consumer's tank.

To this end, RUBiS Energy Jamaica's Chief Executive Officer Alain Carreau notes, “With substantial operations in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean and the north of Latin America, we focus on investing in the people though training and development so that we're able to offer great customer service through strong partnerships with our dealers and their staff.”

Chambers also proudly claims that the company's dealer-operated model has numerous benefits as it gives him consistent business activity each day. “In my other field where I offer scaffolding, you get contracts and you will have days and maybe weeks and even months where you really don't have so much work to do.”

He continued, “RUBiS is a consistent operation where you have a business that runs seven days a week. I don't mind that it gives me that involvement. For me, what I look at is: I went into this dealership as a first-timer, I put my money in it, and I get a profit from it. The involvement in the business gives me a certain amount of comfort in the sense that it is an investment that employs personnel within the community.”

And the petroleum company helps him along his entrepreneurial journey in the unchartered territory too. RUBiS Energy Jamaica, as a value-added offering for its dealers, trains the dealers and help train their staff to ensure quality service and hosts marketing promotions offering significant prizes in cash and kind and in this way all dealers benefit from the resulting increase in sales. They also constantly keep dealers abreast of what is required for the company to remain environmentally friendly and sustain the surrounding community.

Chambers' advice for individuals interested in exploring entrepreneurship through RUBiS is that they should definitely consider it but take great care when handling the money and dealing with accounting. When asked if he would recommend it based on his own experiences, he said, “For me, yes. Anybody who asks, I would gladly recommend it.”

Despite his initial personal circumstances, Chambers is, today, a success in his own right.

He boasts having had notable roles such as lab technician and reporting chemist for cane farmers with studies in sugar technology, and distiller for local gold label rum — all before founding his company, CDF Scaffolding 201 Limited. He was also the first in the island to register as a Government of Jamaica-certified scaffolder after studying at the Institute of Scaffolding in Texas, United States, and had the opportunity of working for a number of international companies.

“My wishes about being in the medical profession were not realised for me but were realised instead for my children. One is an anaesthesiologist, another is an emergency doctor, and another is a nurse. The other children are successful too; they enjoy careers as electricians, accountants and computer specialists,” said Chambers.

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