The story of how Valvoline and HFA became partners begins like many others: by forging and fostering strong, enduring relationships. Within many industries, especially the AEC industry, “who you know” is an essential piece of the puzzle for securing clients, gaining trust, and ultimately obtaining more projects and opportunities to prove your worth. Our origin story with Valvoline Instant Oil Change began when we were the exclusive AEC firm supporting Stripes, a chain of convenience stores primarily found in Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.
Proving Our Worth
In early 2018, 7-Eleven completed an ambitious acquisition of 1,030 Sunoco-owned Stripes stores in 17 states. After this acquisition, many of those within Sunoco leadership moved on to support new companies, one of which happened to be Valvoline Instant Oil Change. At the time, Valvoline was working with a single A + C firm but had plans to scale rapidly, so they recognized the need for more partners to complete the necessary work in a regional approach. A Project Manager we previously partnered with brought our name to the table in a formal RFP process and asked us to participate—the rest is just the beginning of our story with Valvoline Instant Oil Change.
As we embarked on a new partnership with Valvoline, it was clear that our team's attention to detail and commitment to promptly delivering quality work was something that impressed the team at Valvoline. We took that to heart and continued to prove to their team that we were in this partnership for the long haul and willing to do whatever it took to make each project a success—even if that meant collaborating with a jurisdiction or development for a highly sought-after building site on behalf of Valvoline.
One Team, One Dream
Often the best way to provide our clients with exceptional client service is by doing the most obvious thing—making their priorities ours—and doing it well. From continuing to meet and often exceed needs to ensuring that all questions are answered, whether we must search high or low for said answer, the Valvoline team at HFA prides itself on ensuring our clients know that they have everything under control. This often means exploring new ideas with the Valvoline innovation teams, from exploring new service offerings to increasing focus on electric vehicle integration.
“Working with Valvoline feels like a team with the same goal. You know, many programs, clients, or developers are just looking for the cheapest and fastest option—while still expecting perfection. However, our clients at Valvoline understand that not everything or everyone is perfect. We enjoy an open dialogue with them and feel like we have cultivated a team mentality that allows everyone to work together with the same goals," said Jami Cook (AIA, LEED AP), C-Store + Retail Services Architecture Lead at HFA.
Having those same goals from the very beginning only helps to further build trust and rapport with our clients at Valvoline and has allowed us a transparent look into the future of our partnership. With any client partnership, not knowing what to expect in the future can make it hard to forecast upcoming work and ensure we have the talent available for the work. Our clients at Valvoline have listened and responded to that need and have granted us access to tools and systems that can better inform us of the future workload, whether that is intended to steadily increase or grow exponentially year over year.
Looking to the Future with Valvoline
“HFA has played an integral part in breaking apart those false preconceived notions of what a quick-lube operation would be. We partner together to dispel those opinions and fight for the sites that we want so we can get where we want to be,” said Brian Harrison, Manager of Pre-Construction at Valvoline Instant Oil Change.
Our team's expertise shines when it comes time to lobby a city or jurisdiction for a new Valvoline Instant Oil Change site. We strive to go to these meetings not only knowing the site but spend plenty of time digging into that city's specific codes, ultimately putting together a comprehensive report for internal teams at HFA and our clients at Valvoline. Our goal is to prove to the city that we have a healthy understanding of the site and the impact it will have on the surrounding areas. But our work doesn't stop there. We join our clients as a spokesperson for the project, helping to convince the city that Valvoline Instant Oil Change isn't just your average quick-lube shop. By sharing the backend work we put into the designs and site plans, we're able to illustrate what we are willing to work through to keep the city and our clients happy. Success for us is finally getting a site plan approved in the location our clients have their hearts set on.
“There’s no better feeling than hearing, ‘Your project has been approved,’ because then we can obtain our permits and kick it over to the construction team to get the project started,” said Kelsey Kreher, Team Lead at HFA.
Once that happens, we move on to the next project and maintain the same support on the following potential site. But more importantly, we maintain a support role for our Valvoline clients by diving into new opportunities; whether it's research design on the building end, ideating on possible future services in the automotive industry (like how EV charging can play a part in the oil change experience) and partnering together on more sites in the future, we hope that this partnership continues to thrive for years to come. We are always willing to do our part to be a trusted partner and solution provider that Valvoline Instant Oil Change can rely on for the long haul.
Special thanks to Jami Cook, AIA, LEED AP, and Kelsey Kreher for their thought leadership and expertise throughout this article.
Want to know more? For more about our work with Valvoline Instant Oil Change, please contact Jami Cook, C-Store + Retail Services Architecture Lead (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Kelsey Kreher, Team Lead (email@example.com).