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A winning attitude Featured

10:49am EDT October 23, 2001

As owners of a family business, Jerry and Diana Stanoch are accustomed to wearing many hats.

The two own and operate Richfield-based Omnicor Inc., the parent company of a petroleum-based products distributor; several heavy-duty, over-the-road truck dealerships in Northeast Ohio, including Buckeye Volvo and Buckeye Freightliner; a convenience store; and a truck and trailer sales and service facility.

Diana Stanoch has done everything from acting as cash manager for all the divisions to running the family-owned convenience store in Richfield. Her primary focus now is managing Richfield Oil Center, one of the area's largest lubricant distribution centers.

"This is a very fascinating business," Stanoch says enthusiastically. "Most people don't realize what's involved in lubricants. Basically there isn't any machine out there that doesn't use some kind of grease or oil."

Richfield Oil Center does much more than deliver lubricants to manufacturers, fabricators, farmers, automobile repair facilities and gas stations, according to Stanoch. The company employs a full-time lubricant engineer, certified to assist manufacturing and other industries with problem-solving and with the 3,000 to 5,000 types of lubricants available.

Stanoch's zeal is evident as she describes the company's successes. With her at the helm, Richfield Oil Center was awarded a National Innovator award in 1999 from Equilon Enterprises LLC, the joint venture formed by Texaco and Shell.

"So many women came up to me after that awards ceremony to thank me," Stanoch recalls. "They'd say, 'You've opened the door for us. We work hard in our father's (or husband's) company and have never been acknowledged.'"

Since then, Stanoch has become the first female member of the Dealer Counsel Board for Texaco and Shell.

"It's a tough business," Stanoch says. "It's definitely a man's world. When I was first appointed to that counsel, it was pretty interesting. I went into the meeting with all those men and they were saying to themselves, 'Here she comes, and boy, is she pretty, and we're going to have some fun with this.' But they realized very quickly that I'm a serious person. I get things done. They also realized that Equilon considered me to be a very valuable person on that board."

Stanoch started with Omnicor in 1986 as an assistant controller in its truck division. At the time, Jerry, who would later become her husband, was working with a partner.

In 1990, she left the company to pursue a career in the medical field. During her time away, she and Jerry dated, and they married in 1993. Jerry eventually became sole owner of Omnicor and, in 1995, Diana rejoined the company's lubricant sector.

The struggling division became a major profit center for Omnicor as Stanoch overcame obstacles ranging from introducing computerization to building relationships with male clients who resented dealing with a woman. Stanoch says her husband has been supportive through the division's transformation.

"He looks at individual talents," Stanoch says. "A lot of the reason I'm where I am is because he believed in me.

"I'm a lot like my father," says Stanoch. "I have never heard my father say a cruel word to anybody. He taught me valuable lessons when it comes to working hard and helping others.

"I enjoy working with people and really care about the people I work with. I try to use the talents God has given me and I've made friends and developed good working relationships with vendors and customers. I definitely learned respect for this business when I joined this division because I discovered it was the toughest."

Overcoming obstacles and plunging herself into difficult situations to improve operations, Stanoch's attitude is admirable. She often counsels other women in the lubricant industry, and her advice is universal.

"If you're a hard worker, you can't give up," Stanoch says. "There are people out there that will appreciate your talents. The world is changing. Don't focus on the male/female issue -- it turns people off. If you're a female and you have a talent in business, use it."

Under Stanoch's leadership, Richfield Oil Center has experienced low employee turnover.

"I think the biggest employee motivator is showing appreciation," Stanoch says. "Sometimes people think the reason you keep good employees is because you pay them well. The reason you keep good employees goes beyond a paycheck; a lot of it is because you care about them and their families.

"A little bit of appreciation goes a long way. The people who work for me know how much I appreciate them." How to reach: Richfield Oil Center, (330) 659-9312