University Korner Purchases Knox, Sligo, Rimersburg Gas Stations, Stores
CLARION, Pa. (EYT) – University Korner gas station and convenience stores have added three new “Korners” with the recent purchase of three Clarion County gas station/convenience stores in Knox, Rimersburg, and Sligo owned by WFH, a privately-held company with Eric Wensel as president.
(Photo: Yasir Bhatti (center) of University Korner, talks with vendors at the Knox store.)
Yasir Bhatti, one of the owners of University Korner, said the University Korner brand was established about 10 years ago, and the company now has ten stores.
“This brand is for the people of Clarion because this is where it started,” Bhatti said. “It started at University Korner next to the university in Clarion, and we converted all of our stores to the University Korner brand and the three stores in Knox, Sligo, and Rimersburg are also going to be converted.
“We are retaining all of the employees from the three stores. They’ve been very kind and cooperative. We like to keep everyone on board, and these people are very well-qualified who run the stores.”
Operations will continue as normal.
Knox and Rimersburg will continue to include a Subway, but Sligo has removed Subway, and that will be replaced by Hunt Brothers Pizza. The purchase of WFH also included the group’s various car wash locations.
University Korner: A Clarion County Brand
“University Korner is more of a Clarion County brand. There is one in Kane, and we have a couple in Butler, but the main focus is very clear on what is right here.
‘We are going to continue to donate one cent per gallon to the Clarion County YMCA from the new stores. Bhatti estimates that the Y will receive between $35,000.00 and $40,000.00 in 2020.
“That would help the Y with the programs and all of the benefits that they will have in the future. We’re giving back to the community, and that’s the first thing. We’re giving back wherever we can and make the county better.”
UK is also family-based and hopes to continue to grow.
“This is a chance for the people of Clarion to embrace the brand, and they’ve been very supportive. I’m hoping that people support us, even more, to build something out of this.
“Maybe 50 years from now somebody would come in and take over, and this will be a national thing. You never know — gas stations in the past have gone on to cover 10 to 15 states.
“The more we expand, the more people come into our organization and help us expand, this is going to help growth in the Clarion area.”
University Korner employs between 100 and 150 employees throughout the 10 stores, including 14 at each of the three new stores.
Bhatti earned a degree in electrical engineering from Purdue University in 2005, but he wanted to do his own thing, so he started a business and still enjoys it. The first store that was purchased was the Choice station in Knox, followed by University Korner station in Clarion on the site of the former Seven-Eleven.
“The local banks over here have been very supportive, the people have been very supportive, so the whole family is over here and this is our home for the rest of our lives,” added Bhatti.
His family includes his wife, mom and dad and an extended family consisting of his wife’s cousins. Bhatti has lived in the U.S. for most of his life, and his parents and in-laws are Pakistani immigrants.
“We have different families running different operations. We live here and operate these stores.”
One of the goals for all of the stations is to support entrepreneurism.
“We can’t do everything, and I’m only one guy. We want people to take responsibility, and we want people to think that this business is their own and not as if it belongs to our family. They take ‘ownership,’ and then they will learn entrepreneurship, like how to handle business from A to Z or the whole nine yards – from the littlest things to the most difficult emergency that you can handle at a location.
“Managers are the most important links in our chain of people running these outlets. The people running these are making leadership decisions and doing the right thing putting businesses before themselves. They are the most important links in our chain. Without them, this chain breaks.
“When they get started thinking like a business person, that’s when the entrepreneurship starts. I believe they will want to create something of their own. That’s what we need — a way to get back to the days before glass plant and industry closures. Not government, not aid, and no money coming in from somewhere else is the solution.
“We’re going to focus on entrepreneurship. We’ve trained people to run the business as if it were their own and perhaps sometime in the future, you know, they will have their own businesses. More entrepreneurs in the Clarion County area and income would mean more tax collection, more money coming into the area, and more local employment … more tax money coming into Clarion County.
“That’s the whole idea. If we keep that approach, we will also grow with the entrepreneurs.”
Future of Sunoco and Alcohol
“The plan is not finalized yet about continuing to use Sunoco Gas, but our model is based around private branding. We have moved the big gas conglomerates out of the stores, and it will be the same for our three new stores.
“That gives us more flexibility in adjusting the prices, and it is better for the customer. As soon as the weather improves, we’ll put up the new signs.”
The other University Korner store is in Knox across from the Carriage Inn.
“That is of a different nature, and the new one is more of an alcohol and food-based business, and the other is more of a tobacco outlet.”
“The former Knox Sunoco store is UK’s only alcohol-based store – for now.
“The brand has bought other licenses, and I am buying other licenses in the area. You will see more University Korners. I’m not done yet.”
Deeds and agreements recorded at the Clarion County Courthouse
$400,000 in Sligo between WFH, Inc. and VBSBH Holding LLC 3 parcels in Sligo
$165,000 in Sligo between Edward D. Wensel and Tamara R. Wensel and Korner Properties LLC
$600,000 parcel in Rimersburg between Edward D. Wensel and Tamara R. Wensel with VBSBH Holding LLC
$800,000 in Knox Borough and Beaver Township between WFH and VBSBH Holding LLC
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