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The Dean's Executive Speaker Series

Bill Simmons 

Founder, MasterLube

Bill Simmons poses with a group of Whitworth business students. 

Bill Simmons founded MasterLube, a small group of lube centers in Billings, Mont., in 1981. In the years since, he has become a focused theorist on businesses that rely on employees from less-than-advantaged backgrounds.

He was recognized as Fast Lube Operator of the Year in 1990, given the Outstanding Citizen Award in 1999, and given the Business Person of the Year Award by the Billings Chamber of Commerce in 2007. In 2011, he was honored as the recipient of the Jeanette Rankin Peace Award by the Institute for Peace Studies in Billings. The award is given each year to a person whose life "exemplifies conflict resolution, understanding and unity among people of diverse backgrounds, and peacemaking on both a local and global level." He is on the Foundation Board of St. John's Lutheran Ministries, the Community Advisory Council of Rocky Mountain College, the Advisory Council for the School of Business at Montana State University Billings, and the board of the American Indian Consultant Services.

Through the process of "recognizing the obvious," Bill has developed a training and development program for MasterLube that is now in its sixth iteration. The program takes three to four years, at the end of which the employee is launched "on a dead run in the direction of their greatest potential."

MasterLube now has seven locations in Billings and Laurel, Mont., and in 2000 was a partner in building stores in Bratislava, Slovakia. That relationship now includes a student exchange between MSU Billings and C. S. Lewis Bilingual High School, a history studies program, and great European musicians performing in Billings.

Bill has spoken to business groups around the country describing the MasterLube business model.

He was born in 1943, the son of an itinerant preacher, and lived in Texas, North Dakota and Montana. He and his wife, Marilyn, have been married since 1965, and have two children and four grandsons.

Tips for Success

  • Discover your own core competency.
  • Nothing good happens until there is relationship.
  • Recognize the obvious.
  • Low points are not end points; low points are transitions.
  • Battle with your ego.
  • Find mentors.