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Focus on Small Business: Lake Lansing Road Mobil Service At Your Service

Wednesday, July 5, 2017  
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Lake Lansing Road Mobile Service is your classic, old-fashioned gasoline service station. It is equipped with — you guessed it — gasoline and convenience store items, but it also offers car repair and washes. They still offer full-service gasoline for those that may need it.

“I can only think of maybe one or two others that are even like us,” said owner Richard Bratschi.

The station has been in business since 1976 when Bratschi and his wife Colleen began leasing the location from Mobil Oil. In 2000, the couple officially purchased the location, maintaining a supply agreement with Mobil Oil.

“I worked for another dealer before this, while I was actually in high school and for several years after,” said Bratschi. “Jim Little was a good mentor and when the opportunity came from Mobil Oil, he pushed me into it — the rest is history I guess.”

The family business has a team of eight to 10 people, divided between the store and the repair shop. Though Richard and Colleen’s son Jacob is the only family member working there currently — in the shop — Bratschi said that over the years several other family members have joined them. Although it can be challenging at times, Bratschi said that ultimately, working with family was a source of comfort.

“It’s nice to have family because you can trust them, but then it’s also challenging because they all have their own ideas — the way things should go — and sometimes, all the ideas can’t be used,” explained Bratschi.

Since its inception 41 years ago, Richard said that the service station has evolved and grown immensely. With the growth of the area and the opening of Meijer, Bratschi thought, “Oh, we actually have a chance to succeed here.” Then with the development of Eastwood Towne Center, traffic again increased and has made the area almost too busy. But, Bratschi is incredibly grateful for this, especially with the challenges he faced after first opening.

“At the time, it was pretty exciting. Every day was a learning day. Even though I had been in the business for quite a while. When you own your own, you’re responsible for making the mortgage payment and everybody looks to you to get paid,” explained Bratschi. “That part was very challenging for several years to get all that managed, and know what we had to do to pay the bills and actually make a profit.”

Though challenging, Bratschi said the process helped him to grow as a business owner as his business grew with him. Along with the community and his staff, Bratschi credits his wife being his business partner for the station’s success.

“It’s a lot of work every day. It’s a penny business — you have to add a lot of them up to make it work. It’s tedious to keep track of it all but (Colleen) helps me to do that.”

Operating a service station comes with a lot of hurdles, from monetary to regulatory, but Bratschi and his business have thrived and overcome them all.

“We’re a commodity business — people have to have the product we sell — but then it’s also very competitive. You’re constantly adjusting the retail, but then you can only adjust it so far because you must have profit to keep the business going. So, it’s a struggle every day. But, we’ve been very fortunate because of our family, community, and location.”

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