From the desk of Daphne Nicolle

As we race towards the end of the year, I have found some time in between all of the seasonal festivities and preparation for the New Year to reflect on our business and how far we have come in the last few years. I have also squeezed in some training and read various marketing books to better support you as we move forward.

One of the books I’ve been reading is This I Know by Terry O’Reilly.  Terry is a Canadian who has been in marketing for over 30 years.  He started in advertising, but now looks at all components of marketing. Although his book is focused primarily on B2C (business to consumer) many of the concepts he highlights are applicable to the B2B (business to business) world. In my mind, one of the most important questions he asks is “What business are you really in?” He uses Molson Coors Brewing Company as a great example.   Molson, isn’t in the beer business. Even though Molson’s plants are designed to manufacture beer and every Molson delivery truck you see is full of beer cases, Molson isn’t in the beer business. It’s in the party business. 1   What’s your business? Are you in the fuel business or in the business of keeping your customers moving? How you see your business reflects how your company presents itself to the public. As you prepare for 2019 and beyond, take time to read a book or magazine for new ideas, or just take the time to sit back and reflect on the market you operate in and how you reach out to perspective customers. Whatever you do, outside ideas help to expand your business.

Another key part of moving forward is looking back. Kim Nix and I have been working hard the last several months to assess our current offer to the Esso Branded Reseller network. An essential part of this review was sitting down with several resellers across the network to see what is working well, what we could do better and understand how the industry is changing. First, a huge thank you to everyone who gave us their time. We appreciate your generosity and your candor. As you can imagine, there is a lot of information to take in, and we are still digesting it all. Overall, the reseller method of business is working well and we heard this loud and clear. We are not looking to undo what is working well but simply tweak it so it better meets your needs. We heard a number of recurring issues as well as some unique regional challenges and we are using this feedback to enhance our offer and supporting programs to ensure we continue to help you grow and succeed. For example, finding quality drivers is a recurring item, so we are looking to see if there is some way we can help with this part of your business. Stay tuned for the renewed offer.

I hope all of you find time over this holiday season to get away from the office and spend it with loved ones. Take time to celebrate the year that was and the adventures to come.

 1 This I Know, Marketing Lessons from Under the Influence by Terry O’Reilly   Knopf Canada

The Importance of Community Involvement


For over 70 years McDougall Energy Inc. has been proudly supporting the communities that they operate in through the Community Investment Program.  For the McDougall team, community involvement comes in many forms. From local grassroots hockey/soccer/football team sponsorships, annual festivals, parades and tournaments to local charities, hospital growth initiatives and educational bursaries/scholarships, the McDougall Energy brand has been associated with a multitude of these types of events in many communities and towns across Canada.

Investing in the communities that we operate in allows our customers and other businesses to see that we are not only there to provide a service for them but to help the community thrive.  Getting involved in homegrown local activities puts a face to the brand for customers to connect with.  Nothing beats the energy level you feel in a sold-out arena in a small town on a Wednesday night or a local fishing derby full of young kids on a Saturday afternoon. The many thank you notes and pictures which we receive adds to the pride that the McDougall Energy team shares.

We could not provide the support that we do if it wasn’t for the resources available from Imperial. The Esso Community and Brand Elevation Programs allow us to reach even further into the communities we support and provides a stronger brand presence in those communities by utilizing both the Esso and McDougall Energy brands. There are so many creative ways to stretch the community investment dollars by fully utilizing these programs effectively.  Annually, we select initiatives to support on a corporate level that cover a broad range of services focusing primarily on Health Care, Education and Sports initiatives.  However, we also preserve funds to support local initiatives in the many towns and communities where we operate.

Our community investment program allows us to demonstrate to people of all ages and walks of life that McDougall Energy Inc. not only delivers Peace of Mind when it comes to the products and services they rely on us for but also through the ongoing support in the communities where they live!

Submitted by:

Cathy Heard, Corporate Marketing Manager, McDougall Energy Inc.

Time to reconnect…from the desk of Colin Cochran

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a workshop on innovation and part of the discussion was talking about our purpose… what are we doing here (at Imperial)? 

Here is how I answered: “I believe we have the resources, knowledge, and expertise to help Canadian businesses grow.” That’s it. In my opinion, that is what we, Imperial, are here for. And together we do this by helping our customers (you and yours) focus on what matters most to them: reaching their objectives.

Our industry is important, it is critical to our economy and should be celebrated. There is so much passion and energy, a willingness to improve and invest, ensuring long-term environmental, economic, and social sustainability. We should all be proud to be in this business, proud enough to share it with others and continue to push forward for that sustainable balance.

As mentioned at the Esso Branded Reseller Leadership Conference in May, Imperial continues to focus of on growing the Branded Reseller business. Here are a few ways we are working to help your companies reach their objectives:

  • A number of major infrastructure initiatives are progressing from ideation to execution, these are designed to give the reseller network a competitive edge in the market – making it easier to obtain product from Imperial.

There continues to be acquisition opportunities for our Esso branded resellers across Canada.  I am excited about the possibilities and look forward to continuing our conversations on how to grow together. Let’s all continue to keep our ear to the ground to understand the market and our competition to enable this growth to happen in an effective way.

  • The reseller team continues to focus on helping your organizations grow and work effectively– and continuing to understand where we make things difficult so we can make doing business together easier on everyone.
  • We now have two operations advisors (Benoit Daigneault – East) and Lori Hillyer _West) who have been charged with adding value to your business on the operations side (safety, operating tips, supply/logistics, cybersecurity, etc.).
  • Lastly, our marketing team has been kicked off a brand value offer refresh that will help us define the opportunities available across the country and open the door to new offer elements to help draw more business to you. If you are part of this process… feel free to think outside the box… what would make your offer stand out in the market? For those of you not directly involved in this review, please pass along any ideas you might have.

This is my answer to “what are we doing here”; what’s yours?

As we all get ready for fall and changing weather conditions, remember to take care of yourselves and those around you. There is nothing more important.

Keep it up, you are all doing great!


Email me:

Text me: 403-651-4118

Welcome to 2 New Resellers.

Over the summer we have had two new resellers join our network.

Maritime Fuels is now the reseller in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.


In Prince Edward Island, Island Petroleum is the face of Esso. Island Petroleum has been on PEI  for many years selling under other brands.

Welcome to both organizations, we look forward to learning about your business and hearing about your successes.

Fueling communities $75,000 give-away

As part of their 75th-anniversary celebrations, Dowler Karn Ltd is giving away $75,000 to 75 community groups in their local communities.  Organizations can be nominated for the program by community members or on their own.  Then the public in the area are encouraged to sponsor (vote) for the organization or cause of their choice on-line.

The organization must be part of the community where Dowler Karn does business and be involved in one of these five areas:  Activities & Sports; Arts & Music; Health & Wellness; Social Services or Civic Causes. The Fuelling Communities event is designed to address local needs and contribute to strong and vibrant communities, including our Indigenous communities.

The marketing goal for Dowler Karn with this campaign is to promote corporate, brand and product offering, awareness and recognition to our serviceable geography.

As of July 9, 2018 there have been some impressive results:

  • 115 projects have been submitted – with more coming in every day!
  • 50 of the projects with enough sponsors to be eligible for review by the Bursary Review Committee
  • 4,425 people have signed up to be sponsors
  • New users/visitors to the Dowler Karn website – 24,292

Stay tuned for a wrap-up of this unique promotion.

Tips for getting the most out of your community support

Whether you are using Esso community program funds, or supporting a local event on your own, it is important that you gain recognition for what you are doing. The objectives of sponsoring community events really come down to two things:

Reinforcing the commitment of you, the Esso-branded reseller, to the communities where your customers live and you do business while increasing awareness of your brand and the Esso brand.

Contributing to improved volume and market share through increased customer loyalty.

Planning ahead will allow you to make the most of your community spending. While you may not want to do all these items for all events, they are especially important with larger investments.

  1. Draft a media plan to boost visibility recognition (TV, Radio, Newspaper, Magazines, EBR intranet, Facebook, Twitter etc.).  Utilize the media’s free community service, if available.
  2. Verify the receiving organization has the up to date version of your logo and the Esso oval, do not assume they have the right artwork.
  3. Engage various team members to make the presentation on behalf of the EBR & Esso in person. Share dates in advance with your Reseller Business Advisor with an invitation to make a joint presentation, if appropriate.
  4. Share your experience with others in the EBR network by submitting an article to Excellence in Action newsletter.

The artwork to create your own oversized cheque is available.   This cheque can be printed locally and reused with various events.  Contact Jannell Scott for more information.

Money is not the only way to support a local event.  Perhaps they need volunteers, ask your staff, they may be excited to help out. If they do volunteer, perhaps you can provide them with T-shirts with your name on them.  For one event Imperial supported, we provided aprons to all the food volunteers (over 600 people) with the name of the event and our logo.  It is a lasting reminder of our support.  Fundraising events often need items for auctions.  You may have something with your name on it, or you can buy something from the Esso on-line store.

How have you supported your community?  Do you have tips to share?  Submit for upcoming editions of Excellence in Action.


Around the Network

Grace Nobrega and Ken Friesen attend Black Tiger’s manager meeting; right: items from the Blue Water Edmonton office.



In June, Imperial (Esso) was a sponsor of the International Society of Agricultural Health and Safety (ISASH) conference in Halifax.  Alan Hastie and Daphne Nicolle attended as an opportunity to expand our network of contacts in the safety community in Canada and the U.S. as well as get ideas for promoting the reseller network in this sector. In conjunction with WSPS (Workplace Safety & Prevention Services), we had a display up for the duration of the conference.


Take Me Out to The Ball Game

McDougall sales team take customers to a Blue Jay game

McDougall Energy has held another successful customer and prospects appreciation event. This year the event was hosted in a luxury suite at a Toronto Blue Jays game, where the Jays narrowly defeated the Washington Nationals in a nail-biter. What really made the night special was the bringing together and sharing of ideas of such a diverse group of people, from a variety of industries.  Although this event was more about having a good time and building relationships, it was nice to see everybody discussing their unique business challenges and how McDougall Energy has either helped them get to the where they are or where they are going.

Long time Operations Advisor starting next adventure.

Ken Friesen

Ken Friesen will be leaving his role as operations advisor and Imperial in August to start his next adventure as a world traveller and doting grandfather. Ken has been with Imperial for 34 years and in the reseller business since the conversion to that business model in 2012.

Ken has been instrumental in developing the safety and operations program we have today. Many of you will have had Ken present at your safety or team meetings, worked on implementing Spence S2web, or reviewed an incident report. Maybe you had him provide some training for your team or benefited from insights on a site walk around. Or possibly you will remember Ken for his harping, OK encouraging, the use of the Stop, Think and Act tool to help stay safe.

Ken has also been working with outside organizations such as WSPS to help get the safety message to the public and your customers.

Don’t miss the opportunity to take advantage of Ken’s experience and knowledge before he retires at the end of July.   He can be reached at

Dowler-Karn wins Masters Award for local success

Reprinted from St. Thomas Times Journal

Dowler-Karn is the picture-perfect small business success story, built from the ground up and growing into a regional fuel behemoth — without losing sight of who it is.

Now the company is being recognized for it.

The regional propane, fuels, and lubricant company has been announced the sole winner of this year’s Free Enterprise Masters Award, one of the most prestigious business awards in St. Thomas and a testament to their work in the community and across much of Southwestern Ontario.

The award coincides with the company’s 75th anniversary.

The Master’s Award recognizes longstanding community involvement and excellence. As many as three companies can win the award each year.

“It’s an honour,” said Barb Molinaro, vice-president of Dowler-Karn and granddaughter of founder George Dowler. “We have got long-time employees who’ve been with us for years — started here, retired here. That’s really nice to see.

“It gets harder as we go, definitely,” she added. “But we’re passionate about the business, and we try to reward them and thank them for what they do.”

It’s been a slow, steady rise for the company, which started in a small building at the rail yards at the end of Flora Street in St. Thomas. George Dowler eventually enlisted his daughter Joyce and son-in-law Jack Karn to help with the business, one they officially took over in 1970.

The once-small company now employs more than 170 people in 13 locations across Southwestern Ontario, including Windsor, Chatham, Sarnia, and Tillsonburg. Their home office is in St. Thomas, just past Centennial Avenue on Talbot Line.

Jack Karn died in 2006, then 75 years old. Joyce Karn remained active with the company until her death in 2013, at which point their children took over as president and vice-presidents.

“We’ve been so busy growing,” said Molinaro

The company is currently expanding its St. Thomas location, a project expected to be completed in 2019. The company is also working on existing locations, making strides in tech support this year and marketing propane as a low-emission solution to a green-conscious province.

And one day, current owners Molinaro, John Karn, and David Karn hope to pass the business down to their children — some of which are already working at the company

The award was handed out at a ceremony held on May 9.