West Virginia Valvoline Express Care has unique business model: changing kids’ lives

“Change your oil, change a life.”

That’s the motto of a Valvoline Express Care operator who is guided by a unique business model: profits from his quick lube center support a registered local charity. The Ranch Quick Lube in Morgantown, W.Va., was opened as an Express Care in May 2017 to support its parent organization,Chestnut Mountain Ranch, a 225-acre faith-based “school and home for boys in crisis and in need of hope and healing” about 6 miles from town.

“These customers are leaving our Valvoline Express Care store not just knowing they got an oil change, but they also made a difference,” said Steve Finn, a former police officer who founded Chestnut Mountain Ranch in 2004 to live out his faith by helping boys and their families recover from trauma or adversity and learn to love school again.

The ranch operates as a school for 16 boys from the area, some of whom live at the ranch in dorms that are modeled after a typical family home, including the presence of full-time house parents. About 13 adults work at the ranch.

“It’s not a place for bad kids,” Finn says in a video about Chestnut Mountain. “It’s a place for children in need.”

He emphasizes that because one of the goals is family reunification, the ranch works with 16 boys – “plus 16 families. Our goal is family reunification, so with each child comes an entire family to work with.”

A thrift store, then a quick lube

For six years, The Ranch, which Finn says is debt-free, has operated a thrift store in Morgantown to support its mission and to connect with the community. In late 2016, Finn began exploring the idea of opening a quick-lube service center. There was a Pennzoil quick lube in town that was at a good location but had many problems, including possible illegal activity; it seemed like a good opportunity. Soon, the ranch purchased the service center from its Pittsburgh owner.

“We bought it, shut it down and completely overhauled it,” Finn said. “We started fresh.”

The team at The Ranch Quick Lube includes Steve Finn, left, Russel Swearigen, Dallas Bozeman, Anthony Robertson, Michael Ellis, and Kevin Bode

They also contacted several quick-lube chains, searching for the right one to partner with.

“We chose Valvoline because of the system,” said Kevin Bode, who runs the ranch’s thrift store and quick lube. “We felt like as a partner, Valvoline was most interested in the ranch and best understood what we were trying to do.”

“The support that we offer owner-operators is critical and the difference shows,” said Jeff Malicote.

“Once we convert a business, we’re working hard with the owner and team to retain the customer base, recruit new customers and improve profitability,” he said, adding that the initial lead to possibly partner with the store was closed on by Chad Graham, a team member in Valvoline Quick Lubes sales.

‘Some of the best customer interactions that I’ve seen’

The Ranch Quick Lube’s first year of operation is off to a great start. In its first three months of opening, the center was well above the average for current stores in oil changes per day and premium penetration, Malicote said.

“They have some of the best customer interactions that I’ve seen,” said Malicote, who visited the store, which employs about seven, including one graduate of Chestnut Mountain Ranch. “I am proud of what these guys are doing and how they are doing it.”

Finn said that everything in the quick lube points back to its parent organization, Chestnut Mountain Ranch, including a sign in the waiting room, which says, “Change your oil, change a life.”

The store also bolsters the Valvoline brand in Morgantown because we’re affiliated with a local organization that is beloved by residents. Reviews on Yelp and Facebook are unanimously five stars, the highest possible.

Given the initial success and the uniqueness of the model, will Valvoline Express Care explore more opportunities like The Ranch Quick Lube, in which a store supports a registered charity?

“This is serving as a learning environment for possible future opportunities if they were presented,” Malicote said. “What they’re doing from a community, business and leadership perspective is great.”

As for the future, Finn said The Ranch Quick Lube just installed a new sign and Chestnut Mountain Ranch is growing. It’s building a new school to serve 70 children that is expected to be ready by June.

Story courtesy of Valvoline, The Insider newsletter, March 22, 2018

For more information or to patronize the Ranch Quick Lube visit:

Ranch Quick Lube
1385 Earl Core Rd.
Morgantown, WV, 26501