Where Every Customer is a VIP

July is National Independent Retailer Month, so for the next couple weeks we will highlight a couple independent retailers in our state offering the renewable and locally produced ethanol fuels.

One member of the family of ethanol retailers in Minnesota is VIP Auto in Plymouth. The current owner-operator of the station, Chris Robbins, shared some insight with us about his experience as an independent retailer in the Plymouth community.

His opportunity to be in the auto service and fuel industry started with his grandfather, Jerry, who began the family’s journey as independent business owners in 1959. Chris, now a third-generation operator, is thankful for the continued partnership and support he has that comes from nearly 60 years of family experience in the industry. He states, “Basically growing up in gas station, I’ve been amazed to see the advances in technology. As a business and as a family our philosophy has always been ‘How can we make things better?’ When ethanol fuels came to the market, it was clear that this was one of those opportunities.”
In 2014, there were only a few stations in Plymouth that offered E85, and just one that also had E15 available for drivers. It was later that year when Plymouth VIP Auto also began offering E85 and E15 for their customers. Chris notes, “Every year the percent of sales from E85 and E15 continue to climb as consumers become more familiar with these fuels and vehicle manufacturers embrace the product.” His positive experience with adding flex fuel options at this station have lead him to begin the process of adding them at another site in New Hope, set to open later this year. “Knowing that we can offer a better, cleaner burning fuel at a lower price point for our customers is extremely satisfying.”

“Having ethanol fuels at our locations has helped differentiate us from other stations in our market.  Offering a wide variety of fuel choices has increased our customer loyalty and established us as a unique destination in this area. Our customers prefer to buy local when possible and in the same way, as a small business we enjoy supporting our community through partnerships with local crime and fire prevention, schools, and other nonprofit organizations. Our customers support us, we support our customers and together we build a stronger community.”

Independent fuel retailers have a lot of decisions to make about their businesses and VIP Auto is one of those who have decided to offer its customers more choices at the pump.

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