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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.

Mourning the Loss of AMSOIL founder Al Amatuzio

Mourning the Loss of AMSOIL founder Al Amatuzio

As many of you have heard, we lost AMSOIL founder, Al Amatuzio, at nearly 93 years of age. His life was a classic David vs. Goliath illustration of the American Dream. We honor the life of a visionary leader, innovator, and legend that defied convention.

Click here to read about the man that shaped an entire industry, and founded AMSOIL.


A Legend Passes

The man who brought synthetic lubricants to the automotive market leaves a legacy of innovation

AMSOIL INC. company founder and Chairman of the Board Al Amatuzio passed away on Friday, March 31, 2017 at nearly 93 years of age. His life was a classic David vs. Goliath illustration of the American Dream. He was raised poor in a rough neighborhood, achieved distinction in military service and toppled giants on his way to forever changing the lubrication industry. Amatuzio touched many lives through his business ventures and charitable endeavors. In fact, whether they know it or not, Amatuzio has affected the lives of nearly every driver in the world, for it was his vision that brought synthetic lubrication to the automotive market.

It was during his time as a fighter pilot and squadron commander that Amatuzio conceived the notion that cars, trucks and other land vehicles could benefit from synthetic lubricants. “They all thought I was at altitude too long without oxygen,” Amatuzio would joke. The naysayers were many, but Amatuzio had developed an unmatched tenacity through years of trials.

As a child in the Great Depression, Amatuzio’s entrepreneurial nature emerged. He peddled newspapers, sold magazines, collected scrap iron and devised any number of ventures to help support the family through difficult times. But his real love was flying. Every day he would wait to watch the white Sikorsky mail plane fly overhead on its way to touch down on the St. Louis Bay just off of Lake Superior. He would wave to the pilot and dream of the day when he, too, could take to the air. His dream was realized when, at age 12, his father bought him a one-dollar ticket for a short ride in a Piper Cub. Amatuzio’s dream became ambition.

After graduating high school in 1942 Al attended Naval Air Corps training. But just as he was making his mark as a trainee pilot the Navy announced it had overestimated its need for pilots and closed the Program. Disappointed and uninterested in another type of Navy career, Amatuzio joined the Merchant Marine. It was aboard the SS Fisk Victory that he survived the great Okinawa storm that sent 42 ships to the ocean floor.

After the war and eager to renew his pilot training, Amatuzio joined the Air Force, now recently separated from the Army and reorganized into its own distinct branch of the armed forces. He was a natural and made a profound impression on his instructors. Amatuzio earned his wings, then fate pulled him in another direction. His mother became ill, and he had to leave the service to run the family-owned Gitchinadji Supper Club.

Still burning with desire to fly, Amatuzio joined the Duluth unit of the Air National Guard. He served 25 years as a fighter pilot and squadron commander and was twice honored as our nation’s top pilot by winning the prestigious William Tell Air-to-Air Shootout Competition and the Earl T. Rick Competitive Shootout.

It was then that Amatuzio became inspired by a new challenge. Armed with the knowledge that every jet engine in the world could survive only with synthetic oil, he reasoned that the same performance benefits could be applied to the vehicles and equipment people depend on every day for work and fun.

At the time, oil quality was poor and engines did not last long. Then-modern oils were susceptible to breakdown in high heat and contributed greatly to hard-starting in cold weather. Amatuzio had a vision to bring a better option to market. The skeptics didn’t just think it was impossible, they thought it was unnecessary. They had a “good enough” attitude, and they considered conventional oil to be good enough.

Amatuzio ignored the skeptics. He wanted to do something for “the little guy.” In 1963 he began an intense period of research and development. By 1966 he had formulated his first synthetic motor oil, and throughout the sixties he continued development and sold synthetic oils under a variety of names. In 1972 AMSOIL synthetic motor oil became the world’s first synthetic motor oil to meet American Petroleum Institute service requirements. Al Amatuzio had single-handedly changed the entire automotive lubricant industry.

The concept was foreign to the lubricant and automotive manufacturers of the time. They did not want synthetic oil and didn’t believe cars needed it. They resisted what they viewed as a disruptive product. Amatuzio was ridiculed for peddling his “fake oil.” After they began to recognize the superiority of the product introduced by the unknown man from northern Minnesota, they went on the attack. Falling back on the instincts he developed growing up in a rough-and-tumble neighborhood and through military training, Amatuzio fought major corporations and Big Oil companies in multi-year lawsuits. Through sheer determination and relentless fight, Amatuzio beat the odds to build a company widely regarded today as a technological leader in the field.

Amatuzio’s affinity for the little guy and his drive to bring consumers a better choice led to the formation of the AMSOIL Dealer network. When he was finally able to get his new synthetic motor oil in stores, it languished on the shelves next to its much cheaper conventional-oil counterparts. Consumers hadn’t heard of synthetic oil and didn’t understand its benefits. That all changed with the founding of the Dealer network in 1973. Amatuzio’s Dealers were able to convey the benefits of synthetic lubricants much better than simple product labels, and the company grew exponentially. They were little guys, just like him, and they helped build AMSOIL.

In 1994, Amatuzio was formally recognized and honored as the pioneer of synthetic lubrication with his induction into the Lubricant’s World Hall of Fame. In 2005 he was again honored with the Nachtman Award from the Independent Lubricant Manufacturers Association (ILMA). The Nachtman Award is ILMA’s highest honor, recognizing the achievements of those who have made unique and significant contributions to the independent lubricant manufacturing industry.

Today, the company he founded carries on with Amatuzio’s vision – to provide consumers with a better option, to be the best and to support the little guy. What the critics deemed unnecessary and ill-conceived when AMSOIL was founded is now required by many vehicle manufacturers. Because of Amatuzio, consumers have improved choices from Big Oil, their vehicles last longer and advanced automotive technologies that would have destroyed yesterday’s motor oil are possible. Because of Amatuzio, thousands of little guys across North America have the opportunity to make money selling high-end products. Because of Amatuzio, the world is a better place.

We are proud to honor his legacy and continue living his values today.