Tucked between Melbourne and Ballarat and situated on the Glenelg Highway, 166 km west of Melbourne, is a town with a population of around 500. Skipton’s history goes as far back as 1839 when it was first established as a pastoral run and a town site. Interestingly, its one and only post office was opened in 1858.
For Ravi Annamneni, who became a proud owner of the post office this July, Skipton has been an experience as impressive as his economic adventure in the town. He bought the Skipton fuel station two years ago, got the shop and populated it with products. And when he heard that the local post office owners, who were heading into retirement were selling, he was happy to acquire it. There was a three-unit accommodation along with the BP Skipton fuel station. Now, Skipton Roadhouse and Post Office has a new energy to it.
Today, the Skipton fuel station, the shop and the post office provide a buzz of activity and is an important business centre of the town. Santosh Kumar, who looks after the business operations in Skipton among others, says, there is a staff of one manager and six employees looking after the business including the post office.
“The post office is an important business centre. We deliver letters to three towns around, people also come to collect their mail here and we sort them every day,” says Santosh. “It feels good working in this small town. Most of the people know us from before because this is the only fuel station in the town.”
However, this is not the only fuel station or post office in Ravi’s kitty. He has, over the years, acquired 12 fuel stations across Victoria and New South Wales with the second post office in Albury.
Just before Covid upended the world, Santosh sold off his two petrol stations and when Ravi was last year looking for someone to help him with his expansive operations it was the right fit, given his background
“It is not uncommon for Indians to own fuel stations,” says Santosh, who himself has had the experience of owning two of them before he joined Ravi to look after some of his operations.
There are remarkable things about their career trajectory. Both Ravi and Santosh are natives of Andhra Pradesh, they came to study Master’s degree in IT in Melbourne and, like all international students, did part-time jobs, in their case in petrol stations. It would give them the know-how of the business.
Santosh says Ravi worked in the IT sector for a few years and with enough funds at hand, he bought a few sites, some free hold sites and expanded his ventures across New South Wales and Victoria. On his part, Santosh has remained within the petrol pump business even after completion of his degree. “I have a good experience in this field,” he says.
This February, just before Covid upended the world, Santosh sold off his two petrol stations and when Ravi was last year looking for someone to help him with his expansive operations—some fuel stations are located as far as 300-400 km away from Melbourne—it was the right fit, given his background. Together, they believe they have a great partnership for a better gear.
Now, like many other businesses they are looking at innovative ways to sustain cash flow by accepting Qoin digital currency in their Albury petrol station. Though a relatively new concept, Santosh hopes that these transactions will offer a unique business model and help them grow more. After all, every business is about making money and using that to extend more services for customers. “If you can’t make money it doesn’t matter how many fuel stations you have,” says Santosh.
With the lockdown and everyone moving online, they too are keeping up with the times.
Qoin has had huge take-up in Australia with more than 13,500 validated merchants joining the Qoin community in the first nine months. With Qoin launching into New Zealand and further global expansion planned in 2021, Qoin is confident that this success can be replicated in other countries.
Ravi and Santosh seem ready to adapt well for the future.
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Both Ravi & Santosh are natives of Andhra Pradesh, they came to study Master’s degree in IT in #Melbourne and, like all international students, did part-time jobs, in their case in petrol stations. #TheIndianSunhttps://t.co/Hz9X96dUq9
— The Indian Sun (@The_Indian_Sun) November 26, 2020