102 entries categorized "About Us"

Building Trust and Credibility Through Our Indigenous Partnerships

As part of Petro-Canada’s acknowledgement of National Indigenous History Month, we wanted to check in with the team that is responsible for developing Indigenous partnerships in our network. I recently sat down with Pat Pambianco, Director of Retail Operations, Western Canada to talk about Petro-Canada’s history of partnerships with Indigenous communities.

PumpTalk: Thank you for talking to me today, Pat. To start, can you tell me a bit about your role and how you’re involved in working with Indigenous communities?

Pat Pambianco: As Director of Retail Sites in Western Canada, my team and I are responsible for the 350 independently owned Petro-Canada branded stations in our Western region. This region spans all the way from Northern Ontario, west to Vancouver Island and then up to the Yukon and Northwest Territories. These sites are part of our independent dealer network, meaning that they own the sites, they own the property, and they own all the assets.  I have 11 team members – including account managers, business development reps and a sales advisor – who reside in various locales around the region and support our relationships with these stations and their owners. Of the 350 Petro-Canada locations in this region, we are proud to say we have 58 Indigenous Petro-Canada retailers; later this year we should surpass 60 locations.

Nk’Mip Corner Petro-Canada on Osoyoos Indian Band reserve land, near Osoyoos, BC
Nk’Mip Corner Petro-Canada on Osoyoos Indian Band reserve land, near Osoyoos, BC

PT: When did Petro-Canada first develop a station within the Indigenous community?

PP: Petro-Canada took our first step with the Indigenous community about 20 years ago.  It was very successful for both parties.  Our district with the Indigenous stations really started to communicate and grow together about 11 years ago. My first site began with the site on the Grasswoods Indian Reserve of the English River First Nation, south of Saskatoon. They had inquired about coming to our Petro-Canada brand; after getting to know the community, we were excited to work together.  We also added the first Petro-Canada Indigenous site in Alberta.  This was an unbranded location, meaning they had no national branded fuel.  We’re able to offer a significant support to new sites: design of the site, location consulting, contractor recommendations, onsite training for staff. We can help them through all stages of building and operating.

We knew there had been no concerted efforts to reach out to Indigenous communities for a business partnership, but once we did, we realised that these communities would welcome this kind of opportunity and relationship. The economic value to their community is, of course, a big incentive as is the employment of local residents. But perhaps most important is that a Petro-Canada branded station is often just the start.

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation Petro-Canada near Griswold, MB
Sioux Valley Dakota Nation Petro-Canada near Griswold, MB

PT: How have our Indigenous-owned stations contributed to Indigenous communities?

PP: Several communities have gone on to build more than one station: there are at least 10 communities that have more than two stations, and one that has four locations. And the sites they build are flagship sites, really beautiful. They are some of the best sites in our network, often bringing in their own cultural heritage and artwork.

Plus, many communities use that first Petro-Canada station as a foundation to pursue more commercial opportunities. It may have started with one gas bar, but now, we are working with stellar, efficient corporations. A number of these communities are creating more and more business opportunities: wholesale fuel business, consulting firms, engineering firms, mining, wineries, restaurants and even Formula 1-type racetracks. They are really growing and flourishing with many commercial ventures on the go.

PT: We’ve come a long way from our first Indigenous-owned Petro-Canada location. Why is it important for Petro-Canada to work alongside First Nations communities?

PP: Our partnerships with Indigenous communities are really a win-win all the way around. Owning a Petro-Canada station helps their community financially. It helps us to be well-represented in their community. And, it brings both of our communities closer together. This, to me, is the key benefit. By working with Indigenous communities, we’re able to break down old paradigms we had on both sides. We are able to build trust in working together.

It is a slow process to build that trust and credibility. Something that has really helped is that we have a person on the ground in their area, an account manager, that they can call and build a relationship with. The more that we have gotten to know each other, the more you realise that we all have similar goals. We all want better things for our children, our families and our communities.

Ultimately, it all comes down to relationships. I’m proud to see that our relationships are strong and continue to grow. As does positive word of mouth. We often get calls from Indigenous communities across the country who received a recommendation from another community that we are a trusted and reliable business partner. Additionally, we’re now being asked to participate with Indigenous communities during their cultural celebrations which we are truly honoured by.

Caribou Mountain Travel Centre near High Level, AB. Little Red River Cree Nation.
Caribou Mountain Travel Centre near High Level, AB. Little Red River Cree Nation.
Used with permission. Photo Credit: Anonymous

PT: What makes you particularly passionate about supporting development opportunities in Indigenous communities?

PP: I really love what they are building and the vision that many of the Indigenous communities have. They look at it beyond the gas bar. They are developing tourist areas. They bring in artwork and crafts from local artists and make the station their own. They are really focused on serving ALL communities.

I love seeing the excitement of the people who work at the stations, and I love being involved with passionate people who are willing to take a calculated venture with the motive of helping their community. Our Indigenous partnerships are so much bigger than just a gas station. I’m proud that we contributed to something positive for their communities.

PT: In talking with our Indigenous partners, have there been conversations about how we can do better as a business?

PP: We can always do better, and we learn by communicating and listening to our customers and our retailers.  Bringing economic prosperity is key and we will always look to share our successes and contacts in other areas like quick service restaurants, car washes, convenience stores and the buying power of being part of the family of Petro-Canada.


Thank you, Pat, for sharing your thoughts on Petro-Canada’s partnerships with Indigenous communities. It’s great to see the evolution of trust and credibility that you and your team are building.

Celebrating 25 Years of SuperPass

The year is 1998. A lot of us spent our time debating whether or not Jack from Titanic could have fit on that floating door, showing our hair stylist pictures of Jennifer Anniston so we could get “The Rachel” cut, and wondering how the heck to use this new thing called “Google”. Over at Petro-Canada, we were launching a new card service, one that would revolutionize the way our commercial customers managed their business with us.

But first, we have to go back a few more years. Petro-Canada was founded in 1975 and made a lot of acquisitions over the years: BP Canada, Gulf Canada and PetroFina, among others. In addition to having retail stations, these companies also had wholesale customers who subsequently became a part of Petro-Canada’s wholesale network: Petro-Pass.

Super-Pass Card

One of the downsides for our wholesale customers was that, depending on the site location they visited and the technical capabilities of the original brand, the technology they would use to fill up was different. It could be a punch card, aka a Hollerith (named after the inventor of computer punch cards), or it could be the more familiar magnetic stripe card. So commercial drivers who wanted to be prepared for all contingencies as well as have access to a Canada-wide network had to carry both cards with them.

Petro-Pass Exterior

In 1998, in an effort to leverage our entire network (retail and wholesale), upgrade an inconsistent technology experience, and address the need to carry a wallet full of cards, Petro-Canada created the SuperPass card for commercial drivers. The Petro-Pass network got a technology makeover, magnetic stripe tech was introduced at all locations and the SuperPass card was issued to commercial members – alleviating the need to carry multiple cards and uniting our wholesale customers under one brand.

Filling Up at a Petro-Pass

Flash forward 25 years and we still love innovating for Canadian businesses. Today our SuperPass card, accepted at every Petro-Canada location as well as 270+ locations in the US through our Travel Centers of America partnership, gives small and enterprise fleet managers unique tools to help manage the security and efficiency of their fleets. To celebrate this milestone with our members, we’ll be launching a few events during the year:

Member Contest April 18-Oct 23All SuperPass members will have a chance to win one of 25 prizes of $5,000 just by using their card to purchase fuel during the contest period.  You’ll see this contest advertised on Pump Toppers at both Petro-Canada retail stations and Petro-Pass stations across Canada, through social media and on the radio.

Member Stories – SuperPass helps Canadians keep their businesses moving, and we want to share their stories. We’ll feature SuperPass members from across the country who depend on SuperPass to get their work done. Look for their stories on our website, onsite signage, and on social media.

Partnerships – We are always looking for ways to make SuperPass more valuable to our members. For the very first time, we will offer exclusive offers with partner companies to SuperPass members beyond their fuel transaction. Stay tuned on our website and via SuperPass member emails for more details.

We’re proud to have been a reliable partner for Canadian businesses to manage their fleets for the last 25 years and are looking forward to continuing to innovate and support them for the next 25!

An Interview with Geena Virk, Petro-Canada Associate – International Women’s Day

To celebrate March 8, International Women’s Day, we’re sharing this interview with one of our associates, Geena Virk. Geena owns and manages a network of 12 Petro-Canada locations in and around Abbotsford, British Columbia. Geena has been part of the Petro-Canada family since 1999, when she and her husband, Narvinder, took over a single Petro-Canada location. Geena also sits on the Board of Directors of the Petro-Canada CareMakers Foundation as well as the Community Grants Advisory Council.

Geena Virk
Geena Virk

PT: Geena, thank you so much for talking with me today! Having 12 locations to manage is a lot! What does a typical day look like for you?

I’m based in our Clearbrook office along with my bookkeeper. I look through reports from our different locations and ask, “What problems do we have to solve today?” This usually means working with a manager from a specific location and seeing what they need. Do they need sales incentives for their team, a little more training on how to do their books, or a site visit to help them identify where they can improve their location?

I have such a great team – the folks at all our locations feel like family. We have a manager at every store and most of them have been promoted from our original two stores; I recruited them into management positions. In fact, one of them has been with us for 22 years!

PT: What’s do you like about working with Petro-Canada?

It’s so nice to be a part of a Canadian company. I’m proud to be Canadian and proud of working for a Canadian company. So are my managers. They take ownership of the business and take pride in it. And we all like knowing that we (are a part of a company that is) making a difference out there. It is a privilege to work along side so many amazing people – namely the other associates across the network. We have a very talented and generous team of associates in our network.

PT: What are some of the things that would surprise people about owning a Petro-Canada location?

First of all, it’s a 24/7 business. We get calls at all times of the day, and every day of the week – including calls in the middle of the night. We have great managers who will be the first call, but Narv and I are the second call. When we're needed, we're REALLY needed. You have to be flexible and know that you could be needed at any time of the day or night.

Second, the safety of our team is, of course, a big deal. It’s a big responsibility to have that on my conscience every day and especially overnight. Every day, you hope and pray that all employees will make it safely back to their families at the end of their shifts.

Finally, being in this business, you never know what the day is going to bring. The business is always changing. We’re always evolving or tweaking the business. We never seem to be able to leave our work at work, but then that is part of the thrill of the business as well.

PT: What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

That came from Shirley Dickman, my Territory Manager from Petro-Canada (Shirley retired in 2020). She used to tell me how important it was to make personal connections with my teams, to make sure I really got to know them. And Shirley walked the walk. She had 40 locations in her territory, but she always knew the names of my staff. She really cared about people and has been an inspiration for my management style.

PT: Do you have any heroes or mentors?

My grandfather, Sham Singh Sandhu. He passed away last year at 100 years old. He immigrated to Canada from India in 1952 to give his family a better life. I watched how hard he worked every day so that he could give his family a good life. My grandfather believed in tenacity, ambition and education, always telling us to make sure we educated ourselves and our kids. He was a proud Canadian. He is my reason for getting up and moving every day.


Thanks, Geena, for speaking with me! And don't forget to check out our Instagram for a couple of interview clips with Geena.

Behind the Scenes for “How’s It Going, Canada?”

So many of my best memories are from road trips. Whether it was that time three friends and I drove from our university in Texas to Ontario to visit grad schools. Or when I drove across eastern Canada with my mom to make a pilgrimage to Oak Island, Nova Scotia and eat a lot of lobster. Or when a friend and I drove from Toronto to North Battleford, SK to visit his family and chase the Northern Lights. On each trip we got to see some amazing sights, but we also had some great conversations. I really got to know my friends and family a lot better by having conversations in cars.

Apparently, I’m not alone. According to a survey conducted by ZipCar, 76% of the folks they surveyed have had a deep and meaningful conversation in a car. It’s an informal setting that lets us loosen up and speak more freely.

Filming at our location in Quebec City
Filming at our location in Quebec City

With this in mind, when we wanted to take the pulse of Canada, we set off across the country and connected with real Canadians who were willing to take us for a drive to talk about the seemingly ordinary, yet ultimately extraordinary, things they were doing in their communities – demonstrating how they #LiveByTheLeaf.

Getting ready to ride with Huneid and Vanessa
Getting ready to ride with Huneid and Vanessa

Our conversations were facilitated by Darcy Michael and Nicolas Pinson – two fellows who are fun, outgoing and easy to talk to. You can watch all of the episodes of “How’s It Going, Canada?” on livebytheleaf.ca or on the playlist below.

Aside from Darcy and Nicolas, we were supported by an amazing film crew who were responsible for rigging up the cars, keeping an eye on the weather and capturing some fantastic footage. We thought it would be fun to share some pictures from behind the scenes as well as the beautiful places in Canada we got to visit.

Michele shares her story
Michele shares her story

Following Nico in Quebec
Following Nico in Quebec

Just past the golden hour in BC
Just past the golden hour in BC

Getting Rebecca in her best light
Getting Rebecca in her best light

Capturing the last rays of daylight in Nova Scotia
Capturing the last rays of daylight in Nova Scotia

Stay tuned to our Instagram and TikTok channels. Some of the Canadians featured in our episodes are going to be launching some fun challenges that you can participate in.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from PumpTalk

It’s time, once again, to say goodbye to another year, and look forward to the new one ahead. As 2022 draws to a close, we’d like to say a few “thank-yous”!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from PumpTalk

To our readers, thank you for making PumpTalk a part of your week, and to all those who took the time to be interviewed for our posts, thank you for sharing your experience and expertise with us!

Thank you to all of you who spend the extra time to take care of your vehicles and drive with caution in wintry conditions. In the coming days, many of us will be on the roads as we prepare for celebrations and visit loved ones - let’s drive safely and look out for each other!

To all of the Petro-Canada staff and associates who are working to keep us fuelled up over the holidays, an extra special thank you!  If you need a warming cup of coffee on a long drive or a last-minute stocking stuffer (gift cards? instant lottery?) our stations have got you covered.

This is our last post of the year, and we’ll see you back here in January. We wish you and yours a healthy, relaxing holiday season and a peaceful New Year!