We Called Him Al
Albert J. Amatuzio Jr. Much of the world knew him as the founder of a Midwest synthetic lubrication company that challenged the biggest companies in the business – going on not only to survive but flourish. Today AMSOIL stickers are proudly displayed on the windows and bumpers of every make and model, social media brims with the photos and stories of the AMSOIL faithful and every major oil brand features a synthetic lubricant.
Building his company from the ground up, Albert Amatuzio became a grand figure in the industry. But to us, the AMSOIL Dealers and corporate staff that knew him, he was just Al.
We saw a side of him not everyone had the privilege of experiencing. A celebration of Al’s legacy would be incomplete without sharing the man we got to know over the years.
Al Empowered People
Al made profound connections with people. The wellbeing of every member of his staff mattered to him. Working at AMSOIL meant becoming a part of Al’s extended family.
“I heard a horrible rumor about you.”
One evening, Al popped his head into my office. “I heard a horrible rumor about you,” he said. “Oh no, Al, what did you hear?” I replied, worried. “I heard your husband is leaving you because you work too much,” Al said. “Erica, I pay you to work hard but I don’t want you to give up your life. Your family is very important. Go home. NOW.” He waited for me and escorted me out of the building. Al truly believed in a work/life balance and he wanted to ensure your home and family life was healthy. He appreciated the whole person. Not many founders escort you away from your work out of concern for you as a person. -Erica Danielski, Integrated Marketing Director
“We’d love to have you here.”
I remember coming to “Take Your Child to Work Day” with my mom. Every year Al would tell me, “I can’t wait until you work for this company. We’d love to have you here.” Every year it was the same comment, same smile, and same Al that made so many smiles on that special day. When I turned 20, I applied and was hired. I remember the first day seeing Al when I applied. He gave me the biggest hug and with that finger pointed at me and said, “See now I told you you’d work here one day.” With a wink and a smile I hugged him again. He made an impression on me when I was 7 that is still with me now at 28. He would walk the aisles with his pups making sure to say, “Hi” to everyone and catch up with all of us. He was happy to have us in the office and he made sure we knew it. -Nicole Freascher, P.C Program Coordinator
My step-father, Don, worked for AMSOIL for around 38 years. They always made sure there was a place for him, even when he started working part-time and when computers took over the paperwork – much to Don’s dismay. Al didn’t have to keep him at the company, but Don worked at AMSOIL until he was 81 years old. -Brian Lammi, Dealer Sales Trainer
“Walk with me.”
I had returned back to the AMSOIL Center after lunch one day. I saw Al walking by himself down one of the forklift lanes. Being safety minded, I opted to go greet him and see if I could walk/talk with him to the pedestrian walkway. Al hooked his arm in mine and asked what I had going on that day. I told him I had a meeting to go to in about 5 minutes. He smiled and said, “No you don’t, walk with me.” For the next hour, we walked around the facility and I answered questions about the part of the process we were looking at. It was an honor to spend an hour of unscripted time enjoying Al and seeing so many enjoying his visit.
We got back to our starting point and he asked how many people worked for me now. He reached and opened my hand, and closed it again on some money. “Take them out to lunch,” he said, “They worked hard for it.”
Al always treated others with respect, fairness and kindness. -Anne Schilling, Quality & EHS Manager
Passion For His Work
Al lived the values at the foundation of AMSOIL. He believed that no job was unimportant and he urged all of us to approach our work with passion and total conviction.
“You have to love what you do.”
Al told me he didn’t care what kind of job a person has as long as they are proud of what they do and give it their all. He asked, “Is your husband a ditch digger? “ I said, “No, he’s a truck driver.” “That’s fine,” he said, “If he enjoys driving truck and that’s what he wants to do, then he needs push himself to be the best damn truck driver he can be. You have to love what you do and you’ll be good at it.” -Char Ericksen, Adminstrative Assistant III
“With more authority, comes more responsibility.”
I had just been promoted to packaging supervisor and was getting acquainted with my new office. I had just sat down in my new chair and leaned back to test for comfort as Al walked into the office. “Getting used to your new office, eh?” he asked. “Yep,” I responded as I hopped up to greet him. “You know, with more authority, comes more responsibility?” he said. “Yes. I will do my best,” I said. We walked through the plant together. He pointed out what he wanted done. That was my first work-related meeting with Al. In 1998, back when I was working on the drumline, I would often see a streak fly past out of the corner of my eye. It was Al on his bicycle. He used to ride through on a regular basis just checking on things.-Shane Sjoblom, Packaging Supervisor
“How would you spend $10,000 a month?”
I have many memories of Al, including this early one when I was a writer back in 1986-7. The manager of the communications department was Terry Murphy. Al asked Terry to have one of his writers design an ad. Terry selected me and told me what Al wanted. I replied, “Does Al want an ad or does he want results? If he wants results then we should do a campaign.” Terry suggested I write that to Al in a memo form. Al sent a memo back to me: “How would you spend $10,000 a month?” I buckled down and assembled a plan, then submitted it for his review. What I’d written was returned the next day with the words, “O.K. AJA” written on the top. This is how I began my 30-year career in advertising. –Ed Newman, Advertising Manager
On The Lighter Side
Al loved sharing a good story or joke. He created a culture where employees could indulge in a little fun now and then.
He had the ability to brighten your day even if you’ve made a complete fool of yourself. -Tawni Haukedahl, Web Programmer
“The acoustics are better in the bathroom.”
One day I was working a double and didn’t know that Al was around. I was downstairs, with the radio blasting country. I was cleaning, singing and dancing around. I turned around to see Al standing there. He was smiling and chuckling. I could feel myself turning red as I ran to the radio and turned it off. I apologized. He just told me to keep doing what I was doing. I said, “Honestly, my singing is better in the bathroom because of the acoustics.” He said, “Well, I’m not sure about that!” -Leah Sterling, Maintenance Technician
Al Was Generous
Al was generous with his time and truly wanted his employees to feel welcome and valued.
“They’re going to get paid.”
Al was extremely generous. One day my daughter and son had joined me in the office after business hours and Al happened to come by. Jokingly, he asked why I was forcing my kids to work at such a young age. I joked that they needed to pay for college. He asked what I was paying them. I said spending time with their dad was payment enough. Before Al left he pulled out his wallet and handed each of them some cash. As he walked away he said, “If they’re going to be in the office working, they’re going to get paid.” –Lee South, Vice President, Information Technology
“Go somewhere nice.”
In 2009, I was preparing to go on a 2 week solo road trip. I was talking to one of the receptionists about it the day before I was scheduled to leave. Al walked in and I thought, “Uh, oh. I better get back to work, the big boss is here.” He had overheard me talking and said, “Where are you going?” I told him about my trip and he said, “That’s just wonderful. What are you driving out there?” I told him I was a little nervous because my car had just hit 100,000 miles. He said, “That’s nothing. You got AMSOIL in it?” I said, “Of course!” He said, “Good for you. I hope you have a wonderful time.” He shook my hand, winked and said, “Go somewhere nice for dinner on your trip.” I opened my hand and he had snuck $200 in there. The shine in his eye showed he was genuinely excited for me. -Sabrina Frehse, Operations Planner
Al Was Humble
“Served a good purpose”
The first time I met Mr. Amatuzio was at an AU event. I managed enough courage to walk up to him when he wasn’t busy and introduce myself as one of his Distribution Center managers from Wichita. He looked me square in the eye and said, “Oh, yes. Shirley Green country!” He then asked me if I had seen “big red” his semi-truck. I could tell the man knew how to put people at ease and carry on a conversation. What a very personable gentleman.
When he was talking to me, I felt like the only one in the room with him. His eyes were locked right on mine. A true genuine man. -David Navarro, Wichita Distribution Center General Manager
“Just call me Al.”
In preparing for my interview at AMSOIL, I was so inspired watching videos about Al and the company he built. I got goosebumps, listening as Al told me to dream. I did. And, thankfully, I got the job. I was beyond tongue-tied when I was introduced to Al a couple months later. “Colonel, it’s an honor to meet you,” was the best I could come up with. “Just call me Al,” he replied. “Just call me Al.” -Cheryl Hoover, Training Administrator
Al, you will be missed by the 300 employees whose lives you touched and improved, by the Twin Ports community you supported and by the 60,000 loyal Dealers that make a living selling AMSOIL products. Your legacy lives on in all of us.