John Harris, an Ashdown native, has served as president and CEO of Coulson Oil in North Little Rock since 2013. The company has experienced record growth under his leadership, expanding to both retail and commercial fuels.
Harris holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and a juris doctorate from the University of Arkansas School of Law.
Harris is a member of Shell Oil’s national wholesale council.
What’s the impact on the gasoline business of drivers increasingly turning to hybrid and electric cars?
This shift is one of several factors that may affect the petroleum business in the long term. In general, customers have bought more hybrid and electric cars when gas prices have spiked. Right now, however, SUVs are still being purchased at record numbers. Only time will tell the financial impact of changes in customer preference. We must also take into account issues like supply and demand, climate change and an increased need for energy security, to name a few.
How does Coulson Oil deal with such an unpredictable commodity as petroleum?
Since the market is outside our control, we choose to focus instead on the things we can control, like store experiences, by providing customers with the most convenient, clean, safe and well-lit stores possible.
To what do you attribute the company’s rapid growth, which has led it to start building a new headquarters after nearly 50 years on Pike Avenue?
Our success stems from our dedicated and professional employees, whose primary focus is our customers. Take, as an example, Shell Oil’s recent recognition of Coulson Oil as retailer of the year for the U.S. and Road Runner as the retailer of the year for the Americas (Canada, U.S., Mexico and Argentina). Because of our team’s continued efforts, our commercial fuels division has grown, and our equipment company surpasses sales goals every year. We’ve recently acquired Green & Chapman, and we’re now opening two new Road Runner locations in northeast Texas. Once complete, our new office space will only fuel additional growth.
How is Coulson Oil using new technologies?
Over the past decade, our industry has gone from a technology laggard to a leader. At Coulson Oil, we’ve embraced these new technologies to provide customers with greater conveniences, such as mobile apps for paying at the pump. Today, all credit transactions, prepaid products and loyalty processing in our convenience stores flow smoothly from our back office to point of sale. And this is done quickly, efficiently and affordably.
How do you think emerging technologies, such as blockchain, will affect companies like yours?
To put it simply, blockchain is a digital ledger of information. It is designed to be decentralized and resistant to modification. Companies like ours have used this technology to reap cost reductions while ensuring transparent supply chains, traceability of products and decentralized auditing.
What is your approach to leadership?
I have focused on placing talented and innovative individuals in every department of our company. … My goal is to create an environment where every employee has a voice and feels his or her achievements are recognized and celebrated.