Executive Q&A: David Zakrzewski

David Zakrzewski (pronounced "Zah-KRESS-key") joined North Little Rock's Coulson Oil Co. Inc. in 1974. He has served as president and CEO since late 2010, when he replaced 27-year veteran Mike Coulson.

Background: David Zakrzewski formerly served as chief operating officer of Coulson Oil Co. Inc., where he oversaw commercial sales, fleet card services and was in charge of alternative fuel development. He has worked in various capacities at Coulson for 37 years.

Other Involvement: Zakrzewski is a past member of the boards of the Arkansas Grocers & Retail Merchants Association and the Arkansas Oil Marketers Association and currently sits on the boards of North Little Rock's CareLink and the Petroleum Storage Tanks Advisory Council.  

Q: Describe some of your experiences and challenges in taking over a new role from the company's former president. 

A: In my former role as chief operating officer, I served in the capacity of company conductor, leading the orchestra in the daily operations of Coulson Oil. Today's role is more of a composer. I write and set the music, but I'm not as involved in leading all the players. Having historically touched most operational issues on a daily basis, it's at times challenging to stay out of the way of those charged with the responsibility of maintaining day-to-day operations.

Q: What are some trends in the petroleum industry, and how are they affecting Coulson? 

A: A vision for foreign energy independence along with petroleum payment methods are leading concerns for the American public. We certainly think going green is a positive step, both saving energy and promoting energy efficiency. Today's era of green transportation has introduced everything from compressed natural gas cars to fuel cell hydrogen vehicles and various levels of hybrids and electric cars too. With today's struggling economy, we're all looking to lower our everyday living costs, but the struggle is oftentimes if one can afford the cost of a new energy-efficient vehicle over the up and down ladder of gas prices.

Q: Murphy USA has recently announced it will begin installing electric car chargers at gas stations. Does Coulson have any similar plans?

A: Of all the alternative fuels being offered today, the most economical to install may be electric car charging stations. The infrastructure needed is electricity and is readily available. As with any new technology, the tipping point is always consumer acceptance, leading to consumer demand. Today's electric cars have a driving range of about 100 miles before needing a recharge, which can be great for commutes to and from work. Installing electric car charges at retail locations is the chicken-and-egg dilemma. Which comes first? Today there is little or no demand for electric car charging, making it difficult to justify the expense of retrofitting current locations. However, making electric charging available will be a consideration at new or redesigned stores as our goal is to meet the needs of the motoring public regardless of the type of fuel.

Q: What are some developing areas for Coulson?

A: We are certainly looking at growing our fuel business through acquisitions and new builds to expand our number of stations. In addition, we have recently installed E-85 (85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gas) pumps in five central Arkansas locations even though the majority of today's vehicles are not flex-fuel equipped. However, with Congress' passage of new fuel standards and incentives, this will be another area of growth for our company. And as I mentioned, as compressed natural gas vehicles and conversion-eligible vehicles increase, this will be another area where we'll diversify our fuel offerings. The bottom line is, as America moves more towards energy independence, Coulson Oil will be ready to quickly respond to new sources of renewable fuel.

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