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For Rose, it’s been a gas

Long career: David Rose, who retired after 44 years in the fuel business, at his desk at Rubis

David Rose, the former managing director of Rubis, got in on the ground floor — and pumped gas for more than a year on his way to the top of the firm.

Mr Rose, whose retirement was announced this week, joined predecessor Shell as its first Bermudian management trainee more than four decades ago.

He worked across the organisation, rising to oil products manager before taking the top spot in 2006, after Rubis bought the assets of Shell in Bermuda.

Mr Rose said he had seen a lot of changes in his 44 years in the oil business — particularly in technology and safety.

But he said that a slump in oil prices was nothing new — with prices even lower on a relative basis in the 1970s.

He added, however: “It’s just amazing to see the regression in pricing. I don’t think anybody in this business saw this coming.

“The driving force, in my view, us the US with fracking, which is able to extract oil and gas from sands and boasting they would be self-sufficient by 2020.

“That got the ire up in Saudi Arabia and other places, who have held pricing down to cost to make fracking uneconomical.”

Mr Rose said that computerisation and technology had cut the need for mechanical maintenance — once a major job.

He added: “Everything used to be mechanical — with pumps in gas stations, maintenance was high. Pins broke and meters had to be calibrated. Nowadays, they calibrate themselves.

“And protection of the environment is a lot better than when I started back in the 1970s.

“Now the best technology available is used in Bermuda with 24/7 monitoring systems. That’s a huge change from what it used to be.”

Mr Rose, 61, who lives in Smith’s, said he was looking forward to some retirement time — but did not rule out a return to the business world. He said: “After 44 years, I’ve basically had my fill. I need to do something else. Not right now — I’ve a lot of things to do with work around the house and getting my golf handicap down a bit and my wife and I are going to enjoy a bit of travelling.”

Mr Rose began his career as a management trainee aged just 17 on the recommendation of former Shell executive Stanly Marshall.

He said: “This was the first time Shell had done that. They had been operating for just short of 20 years and I started at the bottom and went through every aspect of the operations here in Bermuda.”

Mr Rose worked on the aviation fuel side of the business, as well as the installation and maintenance of tanks and pumps and bunkering of ships.

He also worked in the health and safety and environment chief for Bermuda and three islands in the Caribbean. He was appointed marketing manager in 1986, succeeding his mentor Mr Marshall.

But Mr Rose’s beginnings were more humble.

He said: “Shell used to operate the Causeway service station with its own staff. I worked there for about a year-and-a-half, pumping gas and also learning how to operate a service station.”

Mr Rose added: “I was young, I was 17. I didn’t think much about it. It was an opportunity and I grabbed that opportunity.”

He said that Rubis, which rebranded the Island’s Shell gas stations with its own logo in 2011, had continued the tradition of Bermudian management trainees in a company that was now 100 per cent Bermudian-staffed.

Mr Rose added: “One thing I was very proud of is it’s a company that’s 100 per cent Bermudian and it’s been that way for quite a while, probably the last 20 years at least.

“We just said there’s talent in Bermuda, people can be trained, there’s no need to bring people in.”

Mr Rose said there had also had been a culture change since Rubis, a smaller company, took over from global Anglo-Dutch giant Shell.

He explained: “It’s a very significant difference in how the two companies operate. Shell, like all other big companies, is very centralised. Rubis is the exact opposite.

“They’re totally decentralised and give full responsibility to their affiliated managing directors in the countries they operate in. We have a free hand to do what we do best.”

Mr Rose added he was also proud of Rubis’ support in the community and charitable giving — although he said the company did not trumpet its work in the area.

He said: “We don’t broadcast it, but we are very proud we do our part.”