AMSOIL looks ahead
for fast-track growth
Al Amatuzio, founder of the Superior-based synthetic
lubricant maker, says the company will double
in size in the next five years.
BY JANE BRISSETT
NEWS TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
Al Amatuzio, center, and Executive
Vice Presidents Dean Alexander, left,
and Alan Amatuzio stand near the entrance
of dinner event at the DECC Wednesday
the Superior company that manufactures synthetic
motor oil, will announce to its dealers today
a new management team that's expected to lead
the company to more than double its size during
the next five years.
the company's founder and chief who unabashedly
claims "we make the best oil in the world,"
sees that AMSOIL will need more expertise and
energy at the top to grow. He has turned over
many of his responsibilities to his son and
they'll have a team to help them.
which calls itself the largest independent manufacturer
of synthetic lubricants in the world, will introduce
seven new vice presidents and directors to 225
dealers meeting in the Twin Ports.
company has been preparing for a full-throttle
expansion for the past couple of years. It expanded
its physical presence with the purchase of the
8.5-acre warehouse at the base of the Bong Bridge
once owned by Fleming Cos., a grocery wholesaler.
It has about 250 employees.
company will become a giant corporation one
of these days," predicted Amatuzio, the
company's charismatic president, CEO and founder.
a former jet fighter pilot, founded the company
after observing characteristics of synthetic
oil in jet engines -- reduced engine wear, good
performance in extreme temperatures and long
life. He thought, correctly as it turns out,
that synthetic oil also could be used in automobiles.
considered by some to be a pioneer in synthetic
is a native of Duluth's Raleigh Street. He served
25 years in the Air Guard and built the company
after retiring from the military. Since its
founding in 1972, Amatuzio has received numerous
awards for his leadership in the industry.
at age 82 he spends somewhat less time at the
office, leaving much of the company's leadership
to his son, Alan Amatuzio, executive vice president
and chief operating officer; and son-in-law,
Dean Alexander, executive vice president and
general manager. The elder Amatuzio will retire
"when I hit 100," he said with a laugh.
company is built on a multi-level marketing
strategy, similar to Tupperware or Mary Kay
Cosmetics, in which much of the selling is done
through person-to-person contacts. AMSOIL claims
90,000 dealers around the world, some of whom
are purported to be millionaires.
don't disclose the company's annual revenue,
but Al said it is more than a business directory's
estimate of $50 million to $75 million. AMSOIL
has seen annual double-digit growth since 1990,
All manufacturing and laboratory development
takes place in Superior. Within two or three
years, it is expected be located at the warehouse
building, now called AMSOIL Center. AMSOIL has
invested about $500,000 in the building to date,
synthetic lubricants banner has been taken up
by the big oil companies such as ExxonMobil
or Shell, for which AMSOIL is no match in size.
Al said his company, an independent, beats the
big ones on quality, however.
is a term that means different things to different
people," said Dennis Bachelder, senior
engineer in oil licensing at the American Petroleum
Institute. API has set standards for motor oils
in conjunction with major automakers since the
early 1980s, he said. Some of Amsoil's numerous
products are API licensed.
uses a synthetic base for its oil, but some
synthetic oil manufacturers use highly refined
oil, Bachelder said. AMSOIL, Bachelder said,
tends to use "very high-quality base stock."
company does its own lab testing and field testing,
his dealers in a company magazine that Texaco
once offered to buy him out. He turned down
that bid and his son said he sees no way big
oil could put AMSOIL out of business. "The
only way they can shut us down is to compete
against us and beat us, which they can't do,"
the company will continue to grow in Superior
with the help of its new team, Al said. The
location, though, can be a hindrance to recruiting.
industry people to this area is a challenge,"
Alexander said. The severe winter weather and
remote location aren't for everyone, he said.
is one of the top five locally owned employers
in Superior, said Andy Lisak, executive director
of the Superior-Douglas County Development Association.
one company that provides jobs for highly educated
people -- with degrees in accounting, chemistry
or finance, for example, Lisak said. "They
don't get a lot of fanfare, but they're creating
jobs year by year and they're sustainable jobs."
the company is quiet in its home community,
it aggressively markets its products and is
extending the fanfare this week to AMSOIL University,
the meeting of dealers who are in Superior and
Duluth attending classes to learn more about
Wednesday evening, the dealers and other guests
were invited to a dinner and a surprise movie
premiere. It turned out to be a 90-minute, $100,000
documentary-type production about Al's life
as told by family, friends and associates.
The film is called
"Albert J. Amatuzio: An American Success