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As one of the companies in the Bristol Bay Industrial (BBI) portfolio, environmental stewardship is a core value of PetroCard. “BBI is an Alaskan Native-owned organization with a strong connection to one of the most vibrant and vital watersheds in the world, Bristol Bay,” PetroCard President and CEO Laura Yellig explains to The CEO Magazine. “It’s a resource that our owners have lived in and protected for thousands of years.”
So while she knows that the energy industry is often portrayed as being in a permanent state of tension with environmental protection, Laura affirms that at the Washington state-headquartered fuel and fuel service provider, “nothing could be further from the truth”. Especially now that the fuel industry, like many others, is on the cusp of change.
“We are at the threshold of an era where innovation, environmental stewardship and community commitment are just as important as timeless needs such as service, value and access,” she explains. “Not only are we adapting to this change but we are also using our broad footprint to drive it.”
Founded in 1985, PetroCard has grown to become a leading fuel business for commercial fleets. Activities include bulk fueling, mobile fueling and marine fueling, as well as lubricant supply. The company also operates 100 cardlocks (unattended commercial vehicle fueling sites) across Washington and Oregon states, the majority under the Pacific Pride and CFN name. It is also a certified minority business enterprise (MBE). “Our promise to our customers is unmatched access to quality fuel programs, to innovative solutions and to value and efficiency, to get them where they need to go,” she says.
Laura, who joined the company in 2017, brings her extensive experience in the petroleum industry to the role. Prior to joining PetroCard, she was Vice President at Crowley Maritime’s Alaskan fuel sales and distribution company. She also held leadership positions at Shell Oil during her nearly 17 years with the company including as Wholesale Region Manager for the Pacific Northwest. She has a Master of Business Administration from Rice University in Houston, Texas.
At PetroCard, she says it was the opportunity to innovate across the business that attracted her to the role. “As the largest commercial fleet fueler and supplier in the Northwest we have been growing at a rate not seen since our founding,” she shares. “That’s been driven by a focus on ensuring our processes and strategies remain fresh.”
“We are at the threshold of an era where innovation, environmental stewardship and community commitment are just as important as timeless needs such as service, value and access.”
Targeted acquisitions that provided greater access for its customers have also been made. “We’ve got plans to continue to grow at a very ambitious pace,” she reveals.
In the medium-term, Laura’s focus is on continuing to innovate in fleet fuel management solutions. “We’ve got a new customer portal that puts fuel management insights, access, controls, account support and service changes in our customers’ hands around the clock,” she says, adding that it’s important that this information is accessible when they need it to do business. “We won’t stop evolving technology and data insights to fuel efficiencies for our customers and their fleets.”
Although it’s one of the largest mobile fleet fuelers in the Northwest, Laura says PetroCard has almost doubled its network of commercial fueling stations. And the expansion is showing no signs of slowing down. “We will continue to add locations to this to take customers where they need to go,” she confirms.
And she has the support of a committed team who are as dedicated as she is to the company’s mission. “We fuel the mobility of essential goods and services in the Northwest,” she points out. “Every day, in thousands of transactions, we have the opportunity to send essential workers and critical supply chain participants on their way with a positive and efficient experience.”
Every PetroCard office is located alongside a cardlock station, something Laura says allows every employee to see the end user, such as trucking companies, emergency services, municipal transport and other contractors, as they go about their days. “That connection is pretty powerful and we’re motivated to take those customers where they need to go.”
“With our footprint in the fuels market and with commercial fleets, we really do need to be at the forefront of the fuel transformation.”
Laura believes it’s the people and culture that give PetroCard a leading edge in the market. “They’re an energetic, optimistic, ambitious, forward-thinking, talented and positive bunch of people,” she says.
She also says they are the people who “are going to shape the future of fuels”. “With our footprint in the fuels market and with commercial fleets, we really do need to be at the forefront of the fuel transformation,” she insists.
Through a partnership with a nationwide waste disposal and recycling company, PetroCard has already established a network of 20 Clean N’ Green Compressed Natural Gas fueling stations across the US, a source of fuel that offers both carbon and financial savings. As PetroCard enters into this new territory, it is reaching beyond the traditional supply chain network to what Laura describes as more unconventional suppliers. It’s a move enabling the company to make critical supply and sourcing innovations in biofuels and renewables.
Rather than feeling daunted, Laura is excited about the future. “I’m excited that we can facilitate conversations with diverse perspectives,” she says, adding that she’s actively recruited to her senior leadership team people she knows will challenge both herself and the company to grow while remaining true to its values as an MBE.
“We have the commitment and we can be excited to strive for greater excellence and to approach this business differently than it has been in the past. Where I’m sitting now, in both the fleet fuel business and within the ownership of BBI and its mission as an MBE, is a pretty special place to be.”