David Delrahim brings in a second-generation Iranian-American for a millennial twist to his longstanding gas station company
Platinum Energy, a West Coast gas station and car wash empire, is set to remain firmly a family business as founder David Delrahim prepares his daughter to take the reins. Shannon Delrahim, who has worked for her father’s business since high school, is promising to retain its distinctively “from the ground up” focus, while adding some contemporary ideas.
“Every Saturday [and] Sunday morning, my dad would drop me off there at 6 a.m.,” Shannon recalled of her days as a teenage barista at the company’s original Agoura Hills service station, opened in 1983. “I figure, in part for him, for me to start somewhere similar to where he started.” By the time she graduated high school, Shannon had already worked for her dad for two years. She then started to learn the basics of actually operating a gas station and car wash, often working on paperwork alongside her father, David Delrahim, in the Agoura Hills office. At that point, what would become Platinum Energy consisted of just two retail locations. As it grew towards what it is today – 150 gas stations across California, Oregon and Washington, and an expanding list of Southland car washes – Shannon’s role matured, too.
“My dad asked me to get more involved: learn more, understand more, meet more people, to the point where we had four or five locations,” she explained. “He said, ‘Shannon, it’s time to put our arms around the H.R. departments – because we need to have more accountability.’” Shannon remained in Platinum Energy’s human resources department for several years, and then two years ago, resumed working at Platinum – only this time, she was being groomed to take the company’s reins.
“[I was involved] more in a capacity of shadowing my dad in all aspects of the business than just focusing on the H.R. department,” she said. “For now, I think it’s my responsibility to learn as much as I can from my father, but also to help him and the rest of the company with a millennial perspective.” While handing over Platinum’s leadership to a young, second-generation Iranian-American woman might suggest a radical shift, Shannon expects any changes on company’s core operation to be subtle.
“As far as the culture of the company goes, I can’t see much changing,” she said. “Because how we run the company right now – as far as caring, first and foremost, about, as my dad calls them, our ‘extended family’ [team] members – to me, I think that’s the best way of running the company.” David Delrahim, President of Platinum Energy, has always kept his company a family affair. He opened his very first gas station with his cousin and uncle, working shifts seven days a week. Today, he still co-owns that same location with his aunt.
For David Delrahim, keeping the business in the family is about not only continuing a compassionate, inclusive culture, but expanding this still further as Platinum continues to expand, especially in the car wash business. Working toward the American dream since arriving in the L.A. area in the early 1980s, the elder Delrahim now wants to offer others the opportunity to propel their families forward through hard work and initiative.
“I want to use all of our wealth, all of our success, as a channel to be more impactful,” he said. “Not only to our extended family members … but to our community, to our society … to really show other people that they can do the same thing.”