Duxbury-based VERC Enterprises, with convenience stores, gasoline stations, and car washes sprinkled throughout Eastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire, started with a single car wash in Marshfield. Today, family-run VERC has 26 locations, with $150 million to $160 million in annual sales, said company president Leo Vercollone, 61, who runs VERC with his brother, Paul, vice president. We spoke to Leo Vercollone for this story.
Q. How did the company start?
A. Our father, Eugene Vercollone started it in 1975 with my brother. Our dad was a produce buyer for Purity Supreme for 30 years and was 60 when he started it. My brother was framing houses, and our father said, “I’ll get you a career,” and bought the car wash in Marshfield out of bankruptcy court. I joined in 1978 after graduating from Boston College. Our father knew nothing about the business, and those first few years were a struggle, with a lot of second-guessing. It took a lot of courage. I don’t know if I could have done the same thing at his age.
Q. What’s changed in the business in 40 years?
A. A lot. Think of how credit cards were handled back in the day. You’d run the card through those old carbon-copy machines, have the customer sign it, we’d send it to the credit card company, and it took a week to get paid. Now you pay by cellphone right at the pump. And there are very few full-serve stations now — it’s about 95 percent self-serve. VERC is all self-serve.
Q. VERC is big in hiring people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. When did that start?
A. About 20 years ago. Cardinal Cushing Centers in Hanover was the first to ask, and we now work with other agencies as well to hire people. These individuals have a strong work ethic and do a great job. Out of our more than 260 employees, about 21 percent have disabilities, and it’s a good way for us to give back to the communities we serve.
Q. With more electric cars being sold, will VERC keep up to that demand?
A. Yes, consumer requirements are changing, and we will adapt. We’re fuel agnostic; whatever the fuel is, we want to be the supplier for our customers. Maybe I shouldn’t say this as a guy who owns gas stations, but I just bought a Tesla. It’s a beautifully engineered vehicle.
Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at email@example.com.