AOCA Names New President


The Automotive Oil Change Association recently elected Jim Grant Jr. president, succeeding Patricia Wirth.

Grant, who had served as AOCA vice president, owns East Ridge Fast Lube, a four-store chain in Chattanooga, Tenn. He was named the 2012 Operator of the Year by National Oil & Lube News magazine.

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Wirth was elected to AOCAs board of directors in 2009 and became president in 2010, serving until late August. Although she closed her independent quick lube, Potomac Falls Express Lube and Car Wash in Potomac Falls, Va., on Sept. 6, Wirth said she plans to remain a member of AOCA and its government affairs committee through the end of 2013, when her membership expires.

She pointed out that while many people in the fast lube industry are flourishing in a variety of markets around the country, the automotive service segment in Potomac Falls Express Lubes market in Virginia had become more challenging as the countys rate of growth skyrocketed.

In my particular market in Loudoun County, Virginia, theres really a lot of automotive service saturation, Wirth said. The county is viewed as the fastest growing county in the country, so a lot of people look to open businesses there. They dont look at the actual number of people – they look at the percentages of growth. If you have a low starting point to base your percentage off, its misleading.

Wirth told Lube Report she and her husband sold the property to an investor, who is looking to lease the property. The transaction was expected to close today. I wouldve preferred to have sold to an operator, she said yesterday. We had been talking with some, and this offer just came about. Its always been part of our succession planning to sell the business.

Before deciding to sell the site, they had looked at the possibility of transitioning into a full repair shop. To retrofit our building, change our business model to obtain the skillsets that we need for employees for that sort of thing, it was a very sizable capital investment, she recalled. For example, she said the machine needed to conduct Virginia emissions inspections would cost $50,000. She noted it was also difficult as an independent, single store operator to continue finding the right people to staff the business.

She originally opened her storefront as a Texaco Express Lube location in 1997. Previously she, along with her husband as an investor, was a Jiffy Lube franchisee, and later worked for a time as a general manager for another Jiffy Lube franchise.

Wirth said she loves the quick lube industry, including the business, people and customers. I loved the opportunity of having your own business and being able to give back to the community, she added. Its been great.

She doesnt plan to retire, noting, I like being busy. Im used to working seven days a week.

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