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3 entries from January 2022

Welcome to 2022 – An Interview with Pat Ritchie, VP of Sales & Marketing

Instead of setting some new year’s resolutions for 2022 (which I have done in the past with varying degrees of success), I’m trying a new approach. I’ve set an “intention word” for the year. For 2022, my word is “Action” – mainly because I have a bit of a tendency to procrastinate, but also, with all the pandemic restrictions from the last 2 years, I’ve gotten a little, shall we say, sluggish, so I want to get my “action” back on.

But resolutions or intention words aren’t just for individuals, they can be for organizations as well. I thought that the start of a new year would be a good time to connect with Pat Ritchie, Vice-President of Sales & Marketing at Suncor (proud parent of Petro-Canada). Pat sets the direction for everyone who works on the Petro-Canada brand, and with 2022 being a year we’re all looking to start fresh; I was keen to hear his thoughts and plans.

Pat Ritchie, Suncor

PumpTalk: Pat, thank you for taking the time to chat about your vision for 2022. First, can you tell me a bit more about your role and history at Suncor?

PR: While I’m new to the role of VP, Sales & Marketing (moved into this role in June of 2021), I’ve been at Suncor since 1996 and part of the team supporting Petro-Canada throughout this time. In this role, I have the great fortune of leading the team that makes sure Canadians can get to what matters most to them.

PT: When you think about 2022, what comes to mind for Petro-Canada?

PR: Like many Canadians, I am hopeful when I think about 2022. Hopeful because I know Petro-Canada has a role to play in Canadian communities. In particular, I think about our associates and their staff - the folks who work at your local Petro-Canada stations as well as those that ensure business and farmers have fuel – who continue to put in all their effort to ensure the safety and security of our guests. This isn’t just in the ongoing daily cleaning and sanitizing efforts, but efforts that go above and beyond in support of local needs such as charities or stepping up to support relief efforts. It has been a tough few years but I am so proud of our team of associates. They truly are amazing people.

A few examples come to mind:

  • Retailer Sam Singh, who operates 10 of our Petro-Canada locations in Toronto, matched the $10,000 donation that we gave to each store manager to invest in their community and donated $20,000 to support the North York Harvest Foodbank.
  • The team at Coastal Mountain Fuels who supported recent relief efforts during the massive flooding in British Columbia. They moved a fuel tank from Langley to Chilliwack in one day so that volunteers who were helping people get out of inaccessible areas by boat had the fuel they needed to carry on.
  • The folks at Frew Energy in Ontario who sent emergency supplies of hay to farmers experiencing drought.

Bottom line, our site operators strive every day to Live By The Leaf and support not only customers but also the communities in which they live and work.

Another reason I’m hopeful for 2022 is the great work being done by the Petro-Canada CareMakers Foundation. They just celebrated their first anniversary and have already made a positive impact on Canadian family caregivers from coast to coast. We could not have predicted that the pandemic would have impacted us the way it has, but we can expect that the demands on family caregivers will only increase; we are proud to be able to continue to help.

PT: 2021 was a difficult year across Canada for Indigenous Peoples. The ongoing recovery of children at former Residential School sites across the country has shone a spotlight on the importance of Truth and Reconciliation efforts. How do you see Petro-Canada continuing to address this?

PR: We know that we have so much to learn about how we can best actively participate in Truth and Reconciliation. I know personally, I continue to learn every day. When we commissioned Indigenous artists to create murals at six of our locations – Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver – to commemorate National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, I was truly humbled by ferocious honesty of the artists who have shared their stories and vision for Truth and Reconciliation on murals at our sites. These pieces of art help all of us to appreciate Indigenous experiences in an unbiased and undiluted way. I’m excited for more of them to roll out in 2022 as we continue this important conversation.

PT: The Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games start next week. The decision for Canadians to compete at the Games has been controversial. How does this affect Petro-Canada’s position as a National Partner with the Canadian Olympic Committee?

PR: As a National Sponsor for the Olympics our efforts have always been focused on supporting those who wear the leaf and compete for Canada. If Canadians are competing at the Games, we will be there to support those athletes, coaches and their family. We’re proud to have 30 athletes who received our FACE grant over the years headed to Beijing to compete. And next month we’ll announce our Fuelling Athletes Coaching Excellence (FACE) Class of 2022 – 55 pairs of athletes and coaches who are up and coming stars in their sports – and continue to support their Olympic and Paralympic dreams.

I personally really love watching the Olympic and Paralympic Games and can’t wait to watch our athletes compete and bring home the Gold!

PT: Aside from your plans for the Petro-Canada brand, any new year’s resolutions or goals on the personal side?

PR: With the restrictions over the past 2-years I have spent a great deal of time sitting at a desk in my house. I’ve set a goal to get 10,000 steps per day. This is a goal that has made my dogs very happy.

PT: Pat, thank you for chatting with me about 2022. Any final thoughts?

PR: We can’t be certain what 2022 has in store for us. But we know this: helping to move Canadians towards what matters most to them is what we do. We know that energy needs continue to change, and we are committed to adapting to the changing needs of Canadians. And we know that no matter what lies ahead, we will be there together.

~ Kate T.

Behind the Scenes – Ensuring Fuel Quality at our Terminals and Stations

I have a confession. I still buy DVDs. Sure, I subscribe to a few (ok, way too many!) streaming services – they are very convenient, especially when travelling. But for a few choice films, I still purchase the DVD. Why? So I can listen to the director and crew commentary. I love hearing all the behind the scenes stories: how certain shots were set up, weird things they used for props, how costumes were designed (side note: Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy has some of the BEST commentaries – four different tracks!).

But my interest in behind-the-scenes details isn’t limited to films. I love talking to people who work out of the public eye in areas I know nothing about. So, I thought it would be interesting to talk to someone whose work is incredibly valuable to an end product I use most days – gasoline – but in an area I’m unfamiliar with.

Enter Marie-Claude Raymond, Senior Advisor, Fuel Quality at Suncor. The Fuel Quality team at Suncor (proud parent of Petro-Canada), as you would expect, ensures the quality of the end product – gasoline and other fuels – for customers. I sat down with Marie-Claude to ask her what that really means and what her day-to-day job entails.

PumpTalk: Marie-Claude, thank you for talking with me today! Tell me about the Fuel Quality group. What does your team do?

Marie-Claude Raymond: The Fuel Quality group ensures the quality of gasoline and other fuels for our customers. We are involved with everything that relates to fuel quality, including making sure new fuel-related products meet the expected quality and follow provincial and federal regulations. New products include things like renewable fuels (biodiesel and hydrotreated renewable diesel), as well as new fuel additives. We also monitor provincial and federal regulations in case anything changes that would impact our current products.

Petro-Pass Station

The team also fields requests from potential business customers, like municipal authorities, who want to start using renewable fuels for their fleets. And we support sales and marketing teams at Petro-Canada if they respond to a tender from these potential customers or need to review contracts.

And, we audit processes at the terminal to ensure the quality of the fuel is always maintained. If there is a question about fuel quality, we are the ones who conduct the investigations.

PT: Wow, that’s a lot of different skills! Did you have any special training?

MR: My background is in chemistry; I worked as a chemist in Suncor’s Montreal refinery lab for several years. All the work in the lab prepared me well for the move to the fuel quality team. It’s a very collaborative environment. It is important to be flexible because priorities can change quickly. We need to be able to work with different groups of people: supply chain, maintenance, customer service, sales, etc. Teamwork, good communication, and customer focus are very important aptitudes.

PT: You mentioned that one of the areas you’re responsible for is investigating fuel quality issues. How does an investigation come about? And what activities are part of the investigation?

MR: We don’t have a lot of quality investigations because our process for delivering fuel is so comprehensive. But, if there is one, typically customer service will have alerted us to a concern from a customer at a particular retail site. To conduct the investigation, we follow a very specific process to validate the quality of the fuel from the terminal where it originated to the retail location where the customer received the fuel. We make sure that the procedures in place to maintain the quality have been followed.

Petro-Canada Station

PT: If you do find any problems with the quality of fuel, where are they likely to be?

MR: Having water created through condensation in the tanks is the most likely problem area. It is best practice to keep tanks full, especially when seasons are changing. Plus, at our retail sites, we have filters and monitoring alarms on the tanks to detect water. Following the regulatory and safety processes as we move fuel from terminal to station is so important. It’s why, as a customer, you want to make sure that you purchase your gasoline from places where these processes are in place.


Marie-Claude – thank you so much for this peek behind-the-scenes at Petro-Canada’s Fuel Quality team! Are there any other areas you’d be interested in learning more about at Petro-Canada? Let us know in the comments!

~Kate T.

Winter Car Maintenance: Keeping Your Car Ready-to-Go in the “Snowbelt”

I lived in Toronto for most of my adult life, until a few years ago when I moved to a smaller city in southern Ontario. I spent my first winter here remarking to my neighbours “Wow, there’s, like, so much SNOW.” My neighbours would just shake their heads at city slicker me and chuckle “Well, yup, this is the snowbelt.” Driving in snowbelt took some adjustment but taking these steps to prepare for the cold, ice, and all that white stuff helps to put my mind a little more at ease when I hit the road in winter.

Close up of car on a snow covered road


After being pushed out of a snowbank by some kind strangers, and driving home though my first whiteout (with very white knuckles), I decided to invest in a set of winter tires. I get my local garage to swap out my “All-Seasons” when it looks like the temperature is going to stay below 7 degrees Celsius. My garage also keeps track of my tire tread for me, and will give me a heads up when it might be time to consider new winter tires (although if you want to keep tabs on your tread yourself, you can try this classic trick, with the helpful caribou on our Canadian quarter.)

I make sure to check my tire pressure (including the spare hiding in the trunk!) before any long trips, and if there has been a wild swing in temperature. I bought myself a digital tire gauge that lights up. It was a little pricier than an old fashioned one, but well worth it for the accuracy and ease in reading it. Less time freezing my fingers!

Wipers and fluid

I’ll check periodically to make sure my wipers aren’t sticking or streaking, and top up my fluid with Petro-Canada’s 4-Season Advanced Non-Smear Windshield Washer Fluid (designed for Canada’s freezing temperatures and winter conditions). On a longer drive with mixed precipitation, I can go through A LOT of it, so I keep some extra in the trunk.

Extra gear

I’ll dig out my scraper and brush from under that pile of junk in the backseat, and put a roadside emergency kit in the trunk. I got my emergency kit from the Red Cross. They do a great job of putting it all together for you, but if you want to make your own, make sure you’ve at least got a small shovel, a blanket, jumper cables (and instructions on how to use them) and something to aid in traction (sand, cat litter, or a traction mat). A more comprehensive list of what you could need can be found here. Have an extra charger in your car for your mobile phone too. I keep my roadside assistance number handy as well.

Woman brushing snow off a car

Keeping things clear

I always clean off all the snow and ice before I leave my driveway: windshield, windows, mirrors, top of the car, wheel wells (if it’s building up), hood and trunk. That “it’ll blow-off eventually” attitude doesn’t cut it if I want to be safe, and courteous to others – plus, you may get fined by police if your vehicle is insufficiently clean. I find it’s also helpful to give a gentle wipe to the back-up cam. With working from home this past year, the car can sit for days and accumulate a lot of snow and ice, so I’ve gotten into the habit of clearing off the car when I shovel the sidewalk and walkway each day. That way, it’ll be ready to go if I need to get somewhere in an emergency (or will just make the next time I go out to get groceries a little less of an ordeal).

Slush and mud can quickly accumulate on the headlights and really dim their strength, not to mention my car’s visibility to others, so I do a quick check to make sure they’re clean before heading out.

Scheduled maintenance

For all the “under-the-hood” stuff that isn’t easy to spot, I make sure that I’ve taken my vehicle in for its routine oil change and maintenance check-up at my trusty garage before the snow flies. I feel better about going out into challenging weather knowing the belts, hoses, brakes, systems and fluids are all good, and the battery’s been tested and is up for the colder temperatures and extra strain of the winter months.

Keeping the tank full

Keeping the tank at least half full also means I’ll be ready in case of an emergency. It also helps to keep gas lines from freezing.

Planning ahead

I like to keep an eye on the forecast and road conditions and alter my plans accordingly. In Ontario, I’ve found this site particularly handy. Consult your local ministry of transport for warnings and websites that show current and expected road conditions. Your ministry will also have recommendations and requirements specific to the winter challenges in your area.

That’s how I’ve been keeping things moving during winter. The CAA provides a handy list, if you’re looking for more details on how to keep your vehicle (and your driving skills) in good shape during this tough season.

How about you? What maintenance tasks do you perform in the coldest months? Do you have any tricks or tips? Share in the comments!

~Paul D.