Barbara Ellington, Public Affairs Editor
It's been a hectic two months for Rubis Energy's Donald Gary who has hit the ground running since arriving here to lead the transfer of The Antilles Group to Rubis. But he's up to the task of leading his team into the future.
Having previously sojourned in Jamaica during the mid '90s for Texaco, Gary is no stranger to the place he has grown to love and, in an exclusive first interview with The Gleaner, revealed that he has been making the rounds as he reunites with many of his friends. But, most important, he has racked up lots of mileage as, to date, he has visited some 40 of the 53 stations under the Shell brand in that period. He's also found time to play some golf.
Gary's road map to the success of Rubis Energy in Jamaica is pretty simple; there are short, medium and long-term targets and he's already almost through the short-term objectives. "In the short term, I want to welcome Rubis Energy into the Jamaican family; we are worldwide, in Africa, Europe and the Caribbean, with our regional headquarters being in Barbados," Gary said. "I want to get the people here on board with our broad vision," he said.
Having met with staff and a number of key industry stakeholders, Gary is now putting plans in place to begin the rebranding process set to start in January 2014. It's an expensive-but-necessary step and, although Rubis Energy is still crunching the numbers, Gary sees a bright future, especially as he surveys the vast amount of assets at the Rockfort, Kingston headquarters.
The Rubis Group last December bought Shell from Blue Equity, which had previously acquired the distributorship. Rubis Group, which has holdings worldwide, has taken over Chevron/Texaco operations in most of the Caribbean.
For that reason, it is being speculated in some quarters whether Rubis is here for the long haul or is the acquisition yet another in the line of recent owners of Shell. Gary assures The Gleaner : "We are in the oil industry globally, from Africa, to Europe to the Eastern Caribbean, and we are now 20 years old. We are spending lots of money and we are in the rebranding process, so customers and others, have nothing to fear, we are here to stay," Gary said.
He knows the challenging times but it's a job he relishes. "So far, I have visited dealers, retailers, Petrojam and our distributors, and I have explained our rebuilding mode; we have some issues to fix, but we are making progress." Among those major challenges is to make Jamaicans understand that, although Shell has been a major part of our history, Rubis Energy is guaranteeing that they will be better.
To date, the transition has been seamless, there have been no layoffs, morale is up across the company and, by being all over the Caribbean, it means some positions at Rockfort will now be expanded to give them career development opportunities in the region.
"I will be meeting with all staff monthly and departments more frequently, to show my team that we mean what we are promising," Gary said in response to how the now ownership has gone over with the team.
Regarding the shabby state of some stations, Gary said cosmetic improvements will take place in the short term, but the major fixing is being left to the rebranding next year. The strides made under Shell's global initiative will be kept and improved on, particularly as it relates to good customer service.
And for users of Shell V-Power, Gary said Rubis Energy's Ultra Tech will be even better and they also have plans for a diesel additive to improve the quality of that product for customers.