Craig Vanderwall serves as the Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at General Petroleum and helps to oversee the day-to-day operations of the business.
Since General Petroleum is a family-owned business, Craig grew up with the company and joined the team full-time in 2004.
Over the years, he has worked in a variety of different departments including operations, customer service, purchasing, administration and sales. Throughout his time in each department, he has continued to carry with him his strong belief in servant-based leadership.
Outside of General Petroleum, Craig is involved in the Fort Wayne and Northeast Indiana community through his involvement with the National Kidney Foundation, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Indiana and the University of Saint Francis.
Craig is a proud University of Saint Francis graduate, where he earned his degree in psychology.
Today, Craig works alongside the GPI team to lead the organization into the future.
We recently connected with Craig to learn more about his experiences and goals for the future.
1. Tell us about how you like to do business with customers.
My mantra is to under-promise and over-deliver. That’s something that my family has always prided ourselves on, and that is being able to live up to our commitments. Obviously, the whole venture capital aspect of the business is where a lot has changed in our industry. Many businesses only think of how profitable they can be without a focus on the customer. That’s why a lot of customers are now suffering due to that mindset. So let's say one of our competitors comes to your area every Monday, and they're not going to be there for another three weeks. If you put your order in on Monday, you're going to be out of oil–and basically out of work–until they come back into that area. For us, we would accommodate that customer and order. That’s something I feel that we've done really well through our distribution strategy. Yes, we have customers that are on a delivery cycle, but for the most part, we're in each market every couple of days and able to deliver on our commitments.
2. What is one lesson you’ve learned over your career so far?
I am learning every day, and I don't have all the answers. I'm never going to. While others may pretend to know something, I'm always going to work hard to find the answer. The most valuable lesson I’ve learned in business is to always be honest, ethical and care for your customers.
3. What industry trend are you forecasting?
We are going to continue to go further toward carbon neutrality and higher-performing products. Fortunately for us, being an ExxonMobil distributor, we're aligned with the industry's best when it comes to long-life products that have lower carbon footprints and products that can last eight to 10 times longer than conventional oils. I've spent my whole life surrounded by industry leaders in technology and those that are at the forefront of innovative thinking. Oils and lubricants are going to be around for a long time, and we are proud to sell some of the longest-lasting “in-service” lubricants in the industry. Overall, the industry will find ways of reducing emissions and reducing our reliance on gasoline and diesel engines. Our goal is to stay aligned with the industry trends and educate our customers.
4. What is a common red flag for underperforming lubricants?
Wow, I’ve seen a lot during my visits. From leaking equipment and foam rolling out of gearboxes, a lot of time it comes down to housekeeping. If the facilities are unkempt, most likely 99% of the time their equipment is also not in good condition either. Especially if you walk into a lobby of a shop, and want to fall over because it smells like spoiled, rotten eggs. You know that there is a bacterial issue in the facility. Those are very common red flags to pick up on. I always keep an eye out for leaking equipment and smells in the facilities. Another common red flag in machine shops is the metal chips in the recycling hoppers. They can tell a great story if their machining fluids are properly cooling and lubricating the machine.
Craig and the team at GPI make it their mission to operate a wholesale warehouse and distribution system that will provide quality industrial and automotive lubrication products, along with supportive products and services, to the customers.
With over 700,000 gallons of bulk inventory and over 750 different package products on-hand at all times, GPI takes pride in its outstanding service, like the timely delivery services that reduce the downtime between deliveries customers may experience with other competitors. Most deliveries are made within 24–48 hours of order receipt.