Chris Tolsdorf is emphatic when explaining why his company, Tolsdorf Oil Lube Express, has been a member of the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce (GWCCC) for over 30 years.
“I’m not a member for what I get out of it,” he said. “I’m a member so that I can support what the Chamber creates for our community. The events, the education, the networking, these are things that make West Chester such a great place to work and raise a family. When you work with GWCCC or attend their events, you get to know people and it makes the experience of living in our great small town that much better.”
Chris has gone above and beyond in supporting and enhancing the work of the Chamber for many years and in multiple ways. In addition to serving on the GWCCC Board from 2008 to 2015 (2014 Chairman), he conceived of the Tolsdorf Oil Lube Express Trike Challenge, an Iron Hill Twilight Criterium event since 2014.
For this long-term dedication to the Chamber and its mission, Mark Yoder, GWCCC President, announced Tolsdorf Oil Lube Express as its 2016 Business of the Year. The award will be given at a luncheon on Oct. 26, 2016 at Concord Country Club.
“Chris’s ongoing dedication to the Chamber makes him one of our most-valuable assets,” said Yoder. “Thanks to his leadership, creativity and great sense of humor, the Chamber is a better organization. When Chris is involved, you know you’re going to work hard and laugh a lot. The Chamber is grateful for his support and honored to recognize Tolsdorf Oil Lube Express as its 2016 Business of the Year.”
When told of the award, Chris said he was “incredibly honored and humbled”.
“There are so many fantastic businesses and people in the Chamber who are working every day to make their businesses better, their employees happier, and our community more vibrant,” he said. “To be singled out means a lot to me, my family and my employees.”
Chris, who describes himself as “tall, loud and prematurely grey”, grew up in Westtown Township and graduated from East High School in 1987. His family’s roots in the local fuel business date back to the 1940s when his grandfather, Gibbs Kane, started the Kane Oil Company. After marrying Gibbs’ daughter, Boots, in 1965, New Jersey native Dick Tolsdorf bought Kane Oil in 1972, changing the name to Tolsdorf Fuel Service. The company grew to include three entities, Tolsdorf Fuel Service, Rainbow Cab and Tolsdorf Oil Lube Express, which now has stores in West Chester, Exton, Phoenixville and Kennett Square.
Chris got involved in the business while in high school, working as a cashier at the original Tolsdorf Oil Lube Express in West Chester, when it opened in 1985. A 1991 graduate of Yale University, he worked summers and breaks vacuuming cars and changing oil. He joined Tolsdorf Fuel full-time in 1996 and worked on various projects in all three companies. Dick Tolsdorf sold Tolsdorf Fuel Service in 2000. Chris purchased Tolsdorf Oil Lube Express from his father in 2003 and left Rainbow Cab in 2006 to focus solely on Tolsdorf Oil Lube Express. His brother, Gibbs Tolsdorf, owns and operates Rainbow Cab.
Chris and his wife, Maia, live in West Chester with their children, Emmy, 17, Katherine, 15, and Zach 12. In addition to helping the Chamber, he has lent his time and expertise to various organizations including the Automotive Oil Change Association, Unite for HER, and the Yale Crew Association. He is starting his second season as head rowing coach for the Unionville High School Crew team. ◆