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MasterLube Founder Bill Simmons

Bill Simmons talks with College of Business students at MSUBBill Simmons, the owner and found of MasterLube, gave a lively presentation to the Entrepreneurship  and Marketing class on February 2.  Bill described a series of “epiphanies” which prompted him to view himself in the human development or human potential business, rather than in the quick oil change business. Bill made the following statements:

  1. “If your goal is to do something really well do something that gives you a high level of personal satisfaction.”  For Bill personal satisfaction is the result of extraordinary customer satisfaction.
  2. “The guys I am working with are really good.” Bill marvels at the strength of character of his employees and their willingness to do a great job when they are asked to do a great job.

  3. “My employees were functioning as $25 per hour workers while I was paying them much less. I was going into debt to them.” Believing he needed to find a way to balance this equation he decided to pay them back by using his resources to help them become whatever they wanted to be.

Bill Simmons makes three commitments to employees:

  1. When they leave they will be better off than when they started.

  2. They will leave knowing themselves better and knowing what they want to do.

  3. They will feel that MasterLube is a good place to work and that they have been treated fairly.

Bill Simmons talks with College of Business students at MSUBBill Simmons has always been a visionary of many sorts, what Bill Simmons has not always been is a mechanic. Until 1981 Bill had only changed the oil in his car once before his wife Marilynn fussed about what a mess he made and told him he’d never change his own oil again; he didn’t even own a pair of Levis. On February 16, 1981 Bill was handed the keys to the 24th Street Minit Lube with the stipulation that if he could turn some profit on the Lube Center, then worth -$100,000, he would take over ownership of the store.

Bill took on all of the responsibilities of owning the Minit Lube, present day MasterLube, and quickly became adept at servicing the cars that came into the store. Alongside his staff of five, he quickly realized that although he was good at what he was doing his staff was really, really good at what they were doing. Operating at $25 an hour for a $5 an hour pay check, Simmons was going into deeper and deeper debt to them as MasterLube continued to grow.

Presented with this quandary Simmons talked with his staff and offered them a deal. He said that if they do everything he asked of them, if they continued to work as hard as they were and delivering high quality customer service at their current wage that he would use all of his and MasterLube’s resources to help them achieve their dreams. They had a deal.

The staff rose to a level of excellence not considered possible in a lube center. The suffering 24th Street Minit Lube became MasterLube the unofficial, “highest volume two-bay lube center in the World,” and in less than ten years was named “The National Operator of the Year”.

Since these times with Bill’s guidance and support MasterLube alumni have gone on to acquire PhD’s and CPA’s; some are teachers, counselors, bank tellers, and more. Alumni have become extraordinary husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, and neighbors. MasterLube’s future is brighter than ever with developments in Slovakia and ties to many other endeavors.

Bill lives in Billings with his wife Marilynn while his two children have grown. His daughter Michelle works as a Pediatric Oncologist at Texas Children’s Hospital, and his son Patrick works in Minneapolis as a Computer Programmer.

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