I was interviewed recently by a young reporter from a local television station. She was well aware that AMSOIL INC. was a major employer in the area and that our sales reach extended well beyond the local community, but, as I expected, she knew very little about motor oil. Her answer to my standard question, “What brand of oil do you use?” was typical of most. “Whatever kind they put in,” she said. The reprimand I gave her was not severe.
She asked first about my childhood, and then, knowing I had been a jet fighter pilot, asked about my passion for flying. I explained that as a young boy I would sit on the shore of St. Louis Bay and watch the mail plane land on the water. I imagined myself flying that plane and dreamed that I would one day become a pilot. We talked briefly about my flying career.
She then asked how the idea for synthetic oil originated. I explained that as a pilot I was aware that every jet engine in the world used only synthetic oil, and I reasoned that cars, trucks and other internal combustion engines could benefit greatly from the same type of technology. When I began formulating oil in the early-1960s, my critics thought I was crazy. They claimed I had been at altitude too long without oxygen. But I persisted.
I further explained that making synthetic oil for internal combustion engines was much more complicated than making oil for jet engines, and the chemistries available at the time were much less sophisticated than they are today. Base stock options were limited and the obstacles were many. Eventually, I had my oil tested at Southwest Research in San Antonio, Texas. It exceeded all test limits and proved conclusively that it could go well beyond the traditional drain interval recommendations. AMSOIL coined the phrase “extended drain interval,” and our 25,000-mile recommendation flew squarely in the face of conventional thought. We had taken lubrication to an entirely new level.
It would be a few years later, I told her, before another synthetic oil was introduced. Mobil 1 hit the market in 1974 and, coincidentally, carried a 25,000- mile drain interval recommendation. Although many AMSOIL Dealers feared that with another synthetic oil now in the game our sales would plummet, I knew otherwise. The money Mobil would lay out in advertising would only serve to support our effort. That proved to be the case. Mobil, by the way, was pressured, I suspect, and backed off on its 25,000-mile drain interval recommendation.
Our reporter friend left the interview impressed with the impact AMSOIL has had.
And speaking of impact, it is interesting that Mobil’s recent repositioning of its motor oil lineup closely mirrors the positioning of our oils. I am not suggesting, necessarily, that Mobil modeled their approach after us, but it is worth noting. Mobil Clean oils have been discontinued and replaced with a new family called Mobil Super. This line has been added to Mobil’s flagship Mobil 1 products. The Mobil Super line includes Mobil Super Synthetic, a lower cost synthetic oil recommended for 7,500 miles or six months. This oil is positioned to attract those consumers who are interested in moving up to a synthetic but are not yet ready to invest in a more expensive, longer lasting oil. According to Hesham Omar, Americas automotive marketing manager for ExxonMobil Lubricants and Petroleum Specialties, as quoted in Lube Report, the company “…anticipated that the Mobil Super Synthetic consumers will be trading up from conventional and synthetic blends. The Mobil 1 buyer is seeking a superior product, and less likely to be interested in the Mobil Super proposition.” Sound familiar? That was exactly our strategy with the introduction of AMSOIL OE.
The Mobil Super Synthetic product falls in behind Mobil 1, which is recommended for 10,000-mile drain intervals, similar to our XL oils. At the top end, Mobil 1 Extended Performance, with its 15,000-mile or one year oil drain recommendation, is positioned to attract those consumers who want the best that Mobil has to offer. Those are the same consumers who are drawn to our top-tier, 25,000-mile oils. Separate tiers of motor oils differentiated by drain interval and price, each aimed at satisfying the needs of distinct levels of consumers. Sounds familiar.
Again, I am not suggesting that Mobil intentionally “borrowed” our strategy, but it is curious. Our impact has been seen before.
A.J. “Al” Amatuzio
President and CEO, AMSOIL INC.