Being short-changed can turn into a hot mess.
Just ask the City of Philadelphia.
That’s the problem for the struggling one-time manufacturing hub with one of the country’s highest unemployment rates and that — more than $500,000 in startup costs — spent $400,000 on repairs at an empty building formerly owned by its parent company.
Joy Oil’s diesel-fueled legacy is thriving on its own, in the form of a Jiffy Lube. In fact, it’s thriving even more than it had before and hasn’t returned the full $400,000 investment.
Managers at Jiffy Lube say that because of ongoing operations, taxes and other costs, the original business is “killing” the historic Joy site and its purported future has to do with that property.
“It is the site that’s the most expensive to rebuild,” said Eric Goldberg, a spokesman for parent company Haynes International. “I think Philadelphia is stressed. I think the mayor is stressed. This community is not accepting with the unemployment and the minimum wage that Philadelphia is paying.”
The landmark yellow gas station was founded in 1909 by Alfred E. Joy, the Nobel Prize-winning biologist, chemist and inventor. It has since been purchased by Fuel Systems Solutions, a Delaware company. Fuel Systems Solutions eventually flipped the property to Jiffy Lube, saying more than $350,000 more for operating expenses and then launching out of the nation.
Jiffy Lube/American Freight Lines was redeveloped to pump out fuel, fry up sausages and host other assorted corners of the business world, courtesy of Jacob Weldon Jr., a licensed lawyer and fleet services consultant.
Weldon rebranded and rebranded again, in May 2006, and renamed Jiffy Lube Joy City, the address not lacking a nostalgic charm — hence the name.
But being a Jiffy Lube in Philadelphia is still a journey for Grace Ruzick, the company’s media-relations manager, who says Jiffy Lube operates in more than 100 cities across the country. They’ve since set up shop at the historic site, but it’s in flux and in transition.
The point of last march was to add equipment and equipment for providing plumbing and gas tanks, as well as additional training, she said.
All the while, security guards and maintenance crew climb on top of empty tanks to inspect everything.
“So the security people just do a simple inspection, I’ll get their cameras up that night, and overnight, we get to new maintenance and the training,” Ruzick said. “We’re trying to do this cost-effectively.”
Teddy Fega, a professor and director of the Center for Neighborhood Technology, which has championed the site’s betterment, is calling this a bad move and trying to get the City of Philadelphia to reconsider the investment.