Day in the Life: A great team spirit at GB Oils drives Ramsay on

02 September, 2013
Even after 27 years in the business, Ramsay MacDonald says the forecourt industry still never ceases to amaze him!
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I am not an early morning person but will invariably be up by 6am. I have an arrangement with 'Mrs Mac' that in return for helping our boys get ready for school, she makes me a hearty bowl of porridge. Yes, I have porridge every morning!

I'll check the BlackBerry for messages before leaving home. If I am working out of GB Oils' Larbert office, it's a 30-minute drive from our home in South Queensferry and I aim to be behind my desk at around 8am. The job demands a considerable amount of travelling and often I am heading south, usually by car, sometimes by rail or plane. I enjoy the travel and I'll always try to kill at least five birds with one stone. It helps that I am (largely) in control of my own diary.

In my role I don't have a typical day but most of my time is spent thinking how best to improve the offering for GB Oils dealers while developing a long term and sustainable retail business. From strategic alliances and contracts, to forecourt promotions and new compliance legislation, the job is all-encompassing. I feel we have a lot to offer dealers it's ensuring we get our message across.

With our business driven from offices in Egham, Larbert, Leeds and Warrington, I have daily check-ins with our management team about volumes and margins, new business targets and acquisition opportunities. In my entire career I don't think I've worked with a better group of people. Everyone is so passionate about the business and serving customers and we have a great team spirit, which I think makes us different from the oil companies. The company spirit is very much entrepreneurial, which might not be to everyone's taste but was just what I needed.

We are always open to new ideas and last year we acquired a small company-owned network close to the Larbert office, the GB Oils Scottish HQ. This has proved invaluable in helping us shape our dealer offering. It gives us a direct line of sight on how customers react to the Gulf brand. Having now converted 16 former BP and Esso sites to Gulf in Central Scotland, it is proving a powerful asset and one we intend to use even more.

GB Oils has a 1,200-strong dealer network covering the length and breadth of the UK and incorporating a range of forecourt brands. At every opportunity we are looking at ways of improving and growing the business, utilising our critical mass for the benefit of each and every one of the forecourts we supply. So watch this space.

I've been in the business for 27 years and it still excites me. It's a great business to be part of, there are some fantastic characters and many extremely talented people.

It never ceases to amaze me just how resilient and innovative those within our industry can be, even during times of great adversity. It may be constantly changing but it is always enjoyable and rewarding.

I aim to be back home by 6.30pm but know that I must try harder to get home earlier and spend more time with my wife and children. My sons, Archie and Fergus, are sports mad which means my wife Helen and I are kept busy transporting them between the various clubs and lessons. I am interested in military history, which my Dad got me into. I've also visited a number of places of historical interest with perhaps my favourites being The Great Wall of China and Egyptian pyramids. In terms of historical characters, there are a mix of people who fascinate me from General Patton through to Shackleton and Gandhi! All had tremendous determination.

Football is my main sporting passion and I still put the boots on every Monday evening in an eight-a-side league. Sometimes I manage to get on target with a stunning goal (not). My footballing claim to fame was representing Spain against Portugal during my time there with Mobil. It was an international arranged by the business community but I usually leave out that small detail when, every so often, I recount the event in all its glory to my boys. I don't mention the fact we got hammered (in every sense of the word).


Ramsay MacDonald

Job title: Director of retail
Company: GB Oils
Career History: Joined Mobil straight from university as operations manager in Marbella. Moved back to the UK with BP. Joined GB Oils in 2010
Greatest Achievements My two boys (Archie and Fergus); and learning to speak Spanish from scratch when posted in Spain
Tips for business success Be true to yourself, work hard and always look for self-improvement
Most likely to say "Have we looked at this from every angle?"
Least likely to say "Take it easy, everything will be fine!"
Other interests Skiing, hill walking and generally enjoying the outdoor life. Also raising money for children's charities





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Forecourt Trader continues to maintain its market-leading position as the major source of information for the petrol-retailing sector.

Targeted at independent retailers, all those connected to the industry seek out Forecourt Trader (magazine and website) for its strong mix of news, industry and retailer profiles, as well as scheduled features that cover all categories of a service station operation at length, on both the forecourt and shop side of the business. ...more »

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