Corona, CA: From No Experience to 'Near Perfect'

Ontario, Calif., ARCO Owner named franchisee of the year

ARCO's franchisee of the year is Amy Kim, the owner of the gas station and ampm convenience store in Ontario, Calif., reported The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. Kim won the distinction this month from a field of 1,200 U.S. stores, according to the report. She is the first woman to win the award, which parent company BP has been handing out for 11 years.

"I was completely surprised," said Kim, who was unaware she was even in the running for the award until her name was called at a BP event in Alaska. "I started crying, I don't know why," she told the newspaper.

Considerations such as store performance and the franchisee's ability to generate positive promotion for the ampm brand led to Kim's selection, BP spokesperson Scott Dean told the paper. She received a unanimous vote from a panel of regional sales managers and the vice president of franchise operations, Dean added.

Since the Corona, Calif., resident bought the Ontario store in 2002, it has surpassed every year its sales from the prior year. The store has received consistently near-perfect scores in examinations that occur six times per year for factors such as cleanliness, safety and customer service.

"Amy is a fantastic person. She's a fantastic franchisee," Michelle Khalil, the BP regional sales manager who nominated Kim for the award, told the Daily Bulletin. "When we look at the overall, it's what do people do for the community? How do they support the people? She's a wonderful operator."

Kim bought the Ontario store, which is on a busy stretch of Archibald Avenue just off the freeway, with no experience operating a franchise. She and her parents previously owned and managed a neighborhood grocery store in Florida.

"I was a fish out of water," she said.

Kim is now a certified trainer for BP, coaching incoming ampm owners, said the report.

Owning a gas station has become more competitive in the Inland Empire, she said, since she first started in the market. "Now gas stations are oversaturated," Kim said. "It's hard to find a money-making gas station."

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