Written by The Business Journal Staff
Sunnyside residents, tourists headed to Kings Canyon National Park — basically anyone traveling one of Fresno’s busiest street corners — is likely familiar with the Shell gas station with the inspirational messages on the corner of Clovis Avenue and Kings Canyon Road.
The messages, updated weekly, are posted on a billboard in front of the service station. Humorous anecdotes, Bible verses and uplifting sayings — the messages give travelers something to think and smile about while waiting in traffic.
Starting this week, the 70-year-old gas station will begin transitioning to the Sinclair brand.
While the color scheme will change from yellow to green, and the Sinclair signature dinosaur statue people enjoy dressing up will be added, Rick Ashodian will remain the owner. The messages will remain as well.
“Everything is the same,” Ashodian said. “We’re just changing gas and we’ll have a funny looking dinosaur in the front.”
Ashodian has owned and operated the station for 46 years, and this is the first time in its history it has switched brands. The change, he said, will allow him to offer customers more competitive gas prices.
“I’m trying to give my customers a better value for their dollar,” Ashodian said.
There are currently a handful of Sinclair stations in Fresno, but most are on the northwest side of town, with the closest one to Ashodian’s station located at Cedar and Ventura avenues. Sinclair, a Midwest oil company, has made a recent push to expand further west.
Longtime customer and friend Karen Musson, managing partner of Gar Tootelian, Inc., said the business is like a throwback to the old-time service stations where customer service was key.
“I would call Rick a friend,” Musson said. “If you stopped at that station more than two times he would remember your name. He is a consummate business man.”
She also enjoys the messages, including this week’s: “Relationships are more important than accomplishments.”
Ashodian started displaying the words of wisdom shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Prior to that, the sign was simply used to advertise specials on oil changes and other services.
“After 9/11 I thought our people needed the encouragement,” he said.