WOMAN OF THE YEAR: Sandra Morgenstern

MARIETTA, Ohio — Sandra Morgenstern started at Par Mar Oil Co. as a part-time receptionist 25 years ago. Today, she is the president and CEO, directing the company’s growth to a 50-store chain with 16 quick-service restaurants and more than 800 employees in three states.

“Par Mar purchased a lubricant distributor I was working for and I always say I was inherited with the package,” Morgenstern said. “My first role was working four hours a day answering the phone as a receptionist and taking lubricant orders.”

Having grown up with a father who was a jobber and owner of a gas station and service center that “hauled and distributed fuel,” Morgenstern was no stranger to the industry. At Par Mar, she worked her way through the ranks, becoming president and CEO 12 years ago.

Along with progressing at Par Mar, Morgenstern is also past director of OMEGA, the West Virginia Oil Marketers and Grocers Association, and currently serves on the board of the Ohio Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association.

“The main benefit for me being active in the industry is there is so much to gain from others. The different associations offer networking and the ability to bring so much to the business,” she explained.

Early on in her career, Morgenstern remembers being the only woman at the conventions she attended. She was only the second woman to ever serve on the board of the Ohio Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association. Today, a lot has changed.

“We see many more women in the industry and in leadership roles, running companies. But it certainly wasn’t that way years ago,” she noted.

Today, Morgenstern and Par Mar are focused on continuing the development of the company’s foodservice program, both branded and proprietary, especially since many of the chain’s stores are in rural locations and are the only store in town.

“We see and recognize [that] food is the perfect opportunity to offer our customers, attract new ones and keep them coming back,” she stated, adding that she feels fortunate to have a dedicated and hardworking team by her side each day.

Of all her accomplishments, she is most proud of giving back to the communities where Par Mar Oil operates. She was instrumental in developing Wednesday Wish Day 15 years ago, the company’s fundraising program for children on Christmas morning.

Three years ago, she also played an instrumental role in starting a new program, Draw for Success. “We partner with local elementary schools in our communities. We tell the history of Par Mar to the students in different classrooms, and they use their artistic talents to create drawings,” she said. “Then, the art department teachers judge them and we give the winners $50 savings bonds for recognition, which they can put aside for their future education.”