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The History of Synthetic Oil (and AMSOIL)

The History of Synthetic Oil (and AMSOIL)

Research into alternatives to petroleum oils began long before Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939. But not until WWII choked off Germany’s crude-oil supplies and dramatically revealed petroleum oil’s failings on the front lines did a clear incentive to develop synthetic oil emerge and the history of synthetic oil begin to take shape.

Coincidentally, as Germany’s soldiers went backward on the battlefield, its scientists drove synthetic-oil technology forward in the laboratory. More than two decades later, a fighter pilot from Duluth, Minn., would take up the mantle and bring synthetic oil to the automotive world.

Here’s the story of how a technology forged in the world’s bloodiest conflict arrived in the vehicles we drive today.

The failure of conventional oil

Much must have weighed heavily on the minds of German and Russian soldiers as Germany’s 6th Army besieged Stalingrad, Russia on Aug. 23, 1942. Hitler had targeted the industrial city since it produced artillery and served as an important shipping route to the country’s eastern regions. Perhaps as importantly, he prized the city because it bore the name of his adversary – Joseph Stalin.

Maybe the Germans were thinking about their defeat earlier that winter in a failed attempt to take Moscow. Maybe the Russians had in mind Hitler’s proclamation that, upon taking Stalingrad, he’d have all the city’s men killed and its women deported.

Whatever the case, surely none of the soldiers or civilians had petroleum oil and its propensity to solidify in the cold on their minds.

However, as the fighting wore on through the winter, petroleum oil’s shortcomings emerged as one of several reasons the Germans lost the Battle of Stalingrad.

Despite early gains by Germany throughout the late summer and fall, the Russians refused to surrender. By late November, they’d trapped what was left of Germany’s 6th Army in a defensive ring around the city. Then Russia’s brutal winter set in. Hitler refused to surrender even as his soldiers slowly starved and ran out of provisions. Adding to the catastrophe, the army’s tanks, aircraft and other military vehicles refused to start due to petroleum oil solidifying in the bitter cold.

The battle ended in February 1943 as Hitler’s first publicly acknowledged failure of the war. It signaled a major defeat for the Axis powers. And it provided dramatic evidence of the inadequacy of petroleum motor oil to perform in temperature extremes.

The history of synthetic oil

Decades before the Battle of Stalingrad, scientists had been searching for an alternative to petroleum oil. In fact, French chemist Charles Friedel and his American collaborator, James Mason Crafts, first produced synthetic hydrocarbon oils in 1877, marking the first notable achievement on the timeline of synthetic oil history.

In 1913, German scientist Friedrich Bergius developed a hydrogenation process for producing synthetic oil from coal dust. Twelve years later, his countrymen, Franz Fisher and Hans Tropsch, developed a process for converting a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen into liquid hydrocarbons.

In America, meanwhile, Standard Oil Company of Indiana tried to commercialize synthetic oil in 1929, but lack of demand doomed the attempt. That didn’t stop Standard Oil researcher F.W. Sullivan from publishing a paper in 1931 that disclosed a process for the polymerization of olefins to form liquid products.

At about the same time, German chemist Hermann Zorn independently discovered the same process. Their discoveries laid the groundwork for the eventual widespread use of synthetic oil.

For the time being, however, conventional petroleum oil remained the dominant technology.

The distillation process used to make conventional lubricants hasn’t changed much since then. Formulators start with crude oil, which contains wax and a mishmash of elements, such as sulfur, nitrogen, oxygen and various metals.

Many materials inherent to crude oil must be removed through refinement to increase the oil’s usability. Refiners do this by applying heat, pressure and other catalysts to separate crude oil into different groups, called fractions. Further processing results in many of the products we use today, such as kerosene, gasoline, diesel fuel and lubricating oils used to make conventional motor oil.

The limitations of distillation

As soldiers on the front lines discovered, however, conventional lubricants have inherent limitations.

Distillation cannot completely remove impurities detrimental to lubrication, such as waxes that solidify in the cold and prevent engines from starting. Nor can it remove the lighter, unstable molecules that evaporate due to high heat. The extreme conditions of warfare exposed the limitations of conventional oil. It became obvious the world needed a better oil, and the history of synthetic oil began to take shape.

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Necessity drives synthetics forward

Synthetic lubricants were the answer.

Unlike their conventional counterparts, synthetic oils are “built,” not distilled. This means formulators start with individual molecules, typically ethylene if formulating polyalphaolefin (PAO)-based synthetic oil, and build the lubricant from the ground up in the laboratory.

To illustrate, think of crude oil like a pile of LEGO blocks haphazardly connected to form various shapes of different sizes. Each block represents a different molecule, including elements such as carbon, sulfur, nitrogen or oxygen.

Distillation separates the blocks into piles based on size. Larger blocks form a pile, medium blocks form another pile and so on. Each pile is analogous to a crude-oil fraction. The fraction containing smaller, lighter molecules is used to make products like kerosene and gasoline. Larger molecules become tar. Medium molecules become products that include base oils.

Distillation cannot prevent irregular molecules or molecules unsuited for lubrication from contaminating the fraction intended for lubricating oils, reducing the finished product’s performance.

Synthetics are built, not distilled

The process used to make synthetic oil solves this problem by removing contaminants. Formulators start with a crude-oil fraction, or a pile of LEGO blocks to continue the analogy. They use different chemical processes to “crack” the blocks into individual LEGO bricks, deconstructing each larger molecule into its constituent parts. They’re left with different molecules, like LEGO bricks spread out on a table.

They select only the pure, uniform materials best suited for lubricating an engine, which is typically ethylene when manufacturing synthetic lubricants. Using organic synthesis, chemists use ethylene to build larger molecules, called alphaolefins. Then they use alphaolefins to build polyalphaolephins (PAO). “Poly” simply means “many.” The final product is a PAO synthetic base oil used to make synthetic motor oil.

diagram on how synthetic and conventional oils are made.

By building the finished product from only pure, uniform molecules, synthetic oils remain fluid in sub-zero cold for easier starts and better startup protection, resist evaporation in extreme heat, provide better wear protection and last longer. Given their superiority, it’s easy to see why synthetics had been gaining popularity even before the war.

But the tipping point didn’t come until the war choked off supplies of petroleum oil to several countries, notably Germany, France and Japan. The Stalingrad disaster coupled with lack of crude oil forced Nazi Germany to undertake an intense effort to find alternatives to petroleum oil. Zorn and his colleagues investigated a wide range of synthetic base-fluid chemistries, many originating from coal and other bio-based sources. Germany evaluated more than 3,500 synthetic esters between 1938 and 1944, a key development in the history of synthetic oil. Their superior performance made them the focus of Germany’s synthetic-lubricant technology during the closing years of the war.

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In America, meanwhile, W.A. Zinsman led a more limited research program into synthetics at the Naval Research Laboratory between 1942 and 1945. The result was the development of the first diester synthetic base oils, a notable contribution to synthetic oil history.

Synthetics take flight

The increased performance demands of aircraft engines helped drive development of synthetic oil during the war. But the emergence of aviation gas turbine engines at the end of WWII and during the post-war era brought synthetics to the forefront. Conventional oils were incapable of providing the extreme-temperature protection required of jet aircraft. Only synthetics could deliver the protection needed to withstand supersonic flight.

Al Amatuzio in action jet F16

Born to fly

One person who’d come to understand this firsthand was Al Amatuzio, Lieutenant Colonel and squadron commander in the Minnesota Air National Guard. Stationed in Duluth, Minn., Amatuzio had experienced the benefits of synthetic lubricants in his squadron’s jet aircraft.

Amatuzio had taken an interest in aviation from a young age as he watched the Sikorsky mail plane fly over his neighborhood on its way to Lake Superior’s St. Louis Bay. At 12, a short ride in a Piper Cub cemented his love of aircraft.

In 1942, Amatuzio answered America’s call during WWII. He attended Naval Air Corps training until the Navy closed the program. After the war and eager to again pursue his dream of flying, Amatuzio joined the Air Force. He helped usher in the era’s new jet-aircraft technology by flying the F80 Shooting Star.

Al displaying the oil that started an industry.

“If it works that well in aircraft…?”

Seeing synthetic oil in action, Amatuzio wondered why it wasn’t used in automobile engines. He reasoned that the same performance benefits could be applied to the vehicles and equipment people depended on every day for work and fun.

When Amatuzio began researching synthetic oil in the 1960s, motor oil quality was poor and engines didn’t last long.

Then-modern oils were susceptible to breakdown in high heat and contributed greatly to hard-starting in cold weather. Oil industry giants thought conventional oils were good enough and thought synthetic oil was unnecessary for passenger cars.

Amatuzio undertook an intense period of research and development. He experimented with various formulations. He studied chemistry and learned about additives. In 1966, Amatuzio had formulated his first synthetic motor oil. To test his formulation, he asked one of his pilots to use it in his brand-new 1966 Ford station wagon.

Throughout the late 1960s, Amatuzio continued to develop and sell synthetic oils under a variety of names. By 1968, he was commercially selling his synthetic motor oil. He incorporated “Life-Lube, Inc.” on May 23, 1969 and continued to commercially sell various synthetic motor oil formulations.

By 1970, Amatuzio had settled on a single formulation and had renamed his company “AMZOIL” – an amalgamation of his name and “oil” – which he’d later change to “AMSOIL.”

Amsoil Logo from the 70's

Still serving in the Air National Guard, Amatuzio ran his company in his spare time, working from his basement and warehousing product in his garage.

His financial resources, however, didn’t match his energy, and he nearly bankrupted himself leading his fledgling company. Since no one believed in his idea, no one would lend him money. And few motorists were willing to pay for synthetic motor oil no matter how profound its performance benefits since it cost several times more than conventional motor oil.

The world’s first API-qualified synthetic motor oil

The omission of two important sets of letters on each can of oil also slowed sales: API and SAE. To earn the trust of motorists, AMSOIL Synthetic Motor Oil needed to meet the industry performance standards established by the American Petroleum Institute (API) and Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).

In 1972, Amatuzio sent AMSOIL Synthetic Motor Oil to an accredited third-party laboratory, where it was subjected to a battery of industry tests. The result? AMSOIL Synthetic Motor Oil became the world’s first synthetic motor oil to meet API service requirements. It outperformed conventional petroleum motor oils on all counts, heralding a new age in lubricant performance and engine life while marking a landmark achievement in the history of synthetic oil.

Resistant to change

From day one, synthetic motor oil was foreign to the Big Oil companies and automotive manufacturers of the time.

AMSOIL Synthetic Motor Oil was guaranteed for 25,000 miles/one year, and other oil companies viewed such performance as detrimental to continuous sales. They didn’t want synthetic oil, nor did they believe cars needed it. They were satisfied with the status quo, and Amatuzio was ridiculed for peddling his “fake oil.”

Eventually Mobil, the king of the oil industry, acquiesced and introduced its synthetic oil in 1974. The automotive industry also slowly warmed up to synthetic motor oil’s benefits. Largely in response to the energy crisis of the late 1970s, automakers began to introduce smaller, hotter-running, highly efficient engines that delivered more power and greater fuel economy than their predecessors. Synthetic lubricants gained popularity thanks to their ability to withstand the intense heat, pressure and stress of modern high-tech engines. Chevron introduced a synthetic oil in 1990, while Valvoline followed suit in 1992. Eventually, every major oil manufacturer introduced a synthetic oil of its own.

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The same companies that had deemed conventional oil “good enough” a few decades earlier soon embraced synthetic lubricants as an enabler of higher levels of performance not thought of years before.

Hall of fame induction

The seismic shift in thinking, however, started three decades earlier when Amatuzio wondered why we weren’t using synthetic oil in our cars and trucks and set to work changing the status quo. His contributions to the synthetic-lubricant industry were validated in 1994 when he was inducted into the Lubricants World Hall of Fame, an honor that confirmed his status as a pioneer and thought-leader. His company had grown into a world leader in synthetics and had since introduced several other industry firsts to the market, including the first synthetic gear lube for automotive use, the first synthetic diesel oil and the first 100:1 synthetic two-stroke oil.

Today, more than 50 years after Amatuzio began commercially selling synthetic motor oil, AMSOIL INC. has solidified its status as the premier manufacturer of synthetic lubricants in the world. AMSOIL products are available in more than 60 countries, lubricate approximately half the wind turbines in North America and represent the only choice of millions of discerning enthusiasts across the U.S. and Canada.

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Worldwide Reputation – AMSOIL President Column

From the President – AMSOIL HQ in Superior, WI

Last winter I was riding snowmobile with a group of friends in northern Wisconsin. We stopped for a break and another snowmobiler came in wearing a red AMSOIL Racing Jersey (G3537). I struck up a conversation with him and we talked about snowmobiles, riding and AMSOIL. I told him how AMSOIL sold that jersey for a while, but it had been unavailable for years. AMSOIL reintroduced the jersey after a popular contestant on China’s version of “America’s Got Talent” wore it on that show. Suddenly demand from China for that jersey skyrocketed. I never revealed who I was or how he basically had my name emblazoned on his chest. It was an interesting conversation and I was happy to hear an unfiltered opinion of my company and its products.

More Lucas and Sea Foam Comparison Testing

Reputation is important to me. It is earned, not given. It takes years to develop and almost nothing to destroy. Under the right circumstances, even untrue rumors can ruin solid reputations. Fortunately, AMSOIL has a rocksolid reputation, and we go above and beyond to keep it that way. For most customers, that starts with our products. AMSOIL products are the best in the world. I could not be more proud of that. We compete against the biggest companies in the world, and our products come out on top. Our products do what we say they’ll do. This month we’re introducing a new product, AMSOIL Upper Cylinder Lubricant. Once again, the competition isn’t up to par. In fact, Sea Foam,* one of the most recognized fuel-additive brands, and Lucas,* the leading seller of upper cylinder lubricant, are ineffective. They’re no good. And we’re going to show you the proof.

That’s no way to treat customers, and that’s no way to do business. It’s personal for me – it is my name on the bottle. I would not do anything to damage my reputation, and I respect your reputation. You represent AMSOIL in the field and it is your word that sells AMSOIL products. You can be confident that you are representing a company that has integrity. You can be proud to wear the AMSOIL logo every day. I know I am. Plus, you never know who will ask you about it or what type of business it could lead to. We introduced a completely new clothing line in the spring and we’ve got several new items coming out this fall, including the recently released snowmobile jacket.

Speaking of snowmobiling, if you haven’t visited your retail accounts that carry our snowmobile products, now is the time. If you live in the south or don’t have accounts that carry those products, the new Upper Cylinder Lubricant and the updated pricing information are also perfect reasons to pay your accounts a visit. We provided new printed price lists to every active commercial and retail account. A follow-up visit from you could be just what they need to spark that next order.

AMSOIL K-9 Foundation Supports Law Enforcement

AMSOIL K-9 Foundation – Al Amatuzio’s Legacy

AMSOIL is involved in races and events all over the country, but one event we especially love is “Operation K-9,” which supports the AMSOIL Northland Law-Enforcement K-9 Foundation.

AMSOIL founder and lifelong dog lover Al Amatuzio started the foundation when he saw a need for consistent funding to support K-9 programs at law-enforcement agencies in and around Superior, Wis., and Duluth, Minn. Although Amatuzio had for years purchased dogs and supported K-9 programs on his own, he wanted a permanent solution. The foundation currently supports five local agencies with 12 dogs. Two more dogs will be added this year.

The foundation holds “Operation K-9” each year to help with community outreach and fund-raising. Handlers and their dogs put on a show to demonstrate the dogs’ capabilities, while providing a chance for residents to interact with the dogs up-close.

This year’s event took place the second week of June. Take a look at the images.

Dog training in Duluth

Helps police agencies pay for K-9s

K-9 officers are no ordinary animals. They’re bred specifically for their intensity and ability to perform difficult tasks while being easy to train.

As you can imagine, K-9s aren’t cheap; one dog can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000 – not including training or daily care – and can originate from Hungary, the Czech Republic or Canada. Most law-enforcement agencies can’t support K-9 programs by themselves.

The AMSOIL Northland Law-Enforcement K-9 Foundation contributes up to $10,000 toward the purchase of a dog. The foundation’s goal is to one day cover the full purchase cost. Without support, the costs of K-9 programs would come right out of a police force’s ever-tightening budget. Without help, most agencies couldn’t afford to put K-9s on the street.

Critical to law enforcement

A K-9 can identify a person, explosive device, narcotic or other target 4-6 times faster than its handler due to a sense of smell 10,000 times stronger than a human’s.

Most K-9s specialize in detecting narcotics or explosives. A narcotics K-9 is often used in traffic stops. If an officer sees paraphernalia or suspicious activity in the vehicle, he or she will sweep the vehicle with the dog. Officers could never conduct as thorough an investigation on their own.

K-9s are also used to keep the community safe in ways some people might not even know. For example, K-9s can sweep the premises for explosives prior to a college graduation or similar event.

Paired with handlers from day one

Typically, when an agency wishes to purchase a dog, a handler is first chosen. Upon delivery, the K-9 is placed immediately with its handler to begin training. Dogs are taught all the skills needed for duty, such as tracking, obedience and agility. When dogs are working in the field and get the command to go, it’s like a game – they think it’s time to play and they focus on the tasks at hand. But, when they return home with their handler, they integrate into the family like a pet.

AMSOIL is proud to partner with others in our community to support and fund the AMSOIL Northland Law-Enforcement K-9 Foundation. Our support also includes the Annual 5K Run for the Dogs each fall in Duluth, Minn.

If you would like to support K-9 programs throughout the country, visit or look for local events and programs in your area.

We Called Him Al

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


Real Values

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.

Al Amatuzio: A Heart of Gold

Al Amatuzio: A Heart of Gold

To say AMSOIL founder Al Amatuzio leaves behind a legacy is an understatement. He created the first synthetic motor oil in the world to meet American Petroleum Institute (API) service requirements, fathered a beautiful family, built an AMSOIL family of dedicated employees and independent Dealers, and supported numerous causes through his philanthropic ways.

Al loved the Duluth/Superior community. He grew up here and built his life within this close-knit community. Despite numerous offers to relocate the AMSOIL business out of this community, Al remained loyal to his roots.

While Al had many passions, he held a few near and dear to his heart. We’d like to share them with you here.

AMSOIL Northland Law Enforcement K-9 Foundation

Al always had a special place in his heart for dogs and was particularly fond of German Shepards, which are a fixture in many police departments. The Northland K-9 Foundation was created to support the law enforcement K-9 programs of the Duluth, Hermantown, Minn., and Superior Police Departments, and the Douglas and St. Louis County Sheriff’s Offices. “He would tell us if we needed a dog to call him,” said Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken. “He would outright pay for them, and it was multiple dogs. He was a great man and tremendous benefactor to this community.”


 Animal Allies

Animal Allies Humane Society strives to ensure a lifetime of loving care for every pet by reducing overpopulation, increasing adoption and fostering humane values. They are guided by a humane ethic to build communities that universally value animals, understand their needs and take action to meet them.

Animal Allies presented this photo to Al as a token of their appreciation, and it proudly hangs above one of our drinking fountains at the Corporate Office here in Superior.

Douglas County Humane Society

The Douglas County Humane Society is dedicated to preventing cruelty to animals, relieving suffering among animals and promoting humane education. The Society provides shelter, medical care and adoption services to abandoned, lost and misplaced animals. They provide services for approximately 1,000 animals each year from the City of Superior and Douglas County.

Boys & Girls Club

The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Northland is dedicated to ensuring that our community’s youth have greater access to quality programs and services that empower their lives and build great futures. Their mission is to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.

Albert J. Amatuzio Research Center

Located in the Duluth Depot, the Albert J. Amatuzio Research Center chronicles local service history dating back to the Civil War. This research center includes photographs, journals, stories and biographies of veterans from northeastern Minnesota who served this nation from the Civil War through Iraq and Afghanistan.

Al began to build his legacy as a proud member of both the Merchant Marine and the U.S. Air Force. He served 25 years as a fighter pilot and squadron commander with the Air National Guard out of Duluth, Minn.  Al, nicknamed “Ammo” by his fellow pilots, was twice honored as our nation’s top pilot.







The passion behind Al’s philanthropic history will live on in the Twin Ports and in the hearts of everyone whose life he changed.

Read more about what AMSOIL employees and AMSOIL Dealers had to say about their fearless and lovable leader.