Business Owner and Active Community Member
Lena Epstein, 33, is a general manager and co-owner of the Southfield-based Vesco Oil Corporation. Her grandfather began the oil distribution business 68 years ago. Epstein says she wanted to be involved with the business from a very young age and had the opportunity to do so. Along the way, she also graduated from Harvard with a degree in economics as well as an M.B.A. from University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. Her talents of enthusiasm, hard work and a great education are brought to bear in her management role at Vesco. Today, she and a sister continue the legacy of the family business.
Professionally speaking: I saw what my family was doing and I wanted to be a part of it — and I was, from a very early age. I rode on the trucks, loaded product, then went into sales and brought in more new business than my family could believe. I love representing our company. We supply oil to car dealers, quick lube places, manufacturing facilities and bus garages. We also have an environmental arm that picks up used oil and sells it to those who will reuse it responsibly. We know that oil is needed in the world and we make sure we handle it properly.
Industry changes: For us, we really saw the economy in the United States come back about two years ago. While our steadfast customers stayed with us during the hard times, we really saw an upsurge about two years ago, adding new business in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. Even during the downturn, though, our primary clients stayed with us because they knew they would have a good product at fair prices. I’m also very proud that Crain’s Detroit Business recently recognized Vesco as the seventh largest woman-owned business enterprise in the area.
Who are the people most important in your life? My family, of course. I’m single, too, so I also have lots of wonderful friends and a very active social life. I also make an effort to give back to the community by supporting lots of charitable and community events. I’m active in the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Detroit Historical Society and an appointee on Gov. Rick Snyder’s Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board.
Favorite place to hang out in the area: I love to be outside. I’m an avid hiker and walker. I love to run. I box in the Jabz gym in Birmingham. Bryan Lubuway is a great trainer there. I belong to Franklin Hills Country Club. Not only is it a social opportunity for me, but I also enjoy playing golf there.
What’s your passion? I love to play the piano. I have a 1904 Steinway in my home in Bloomfield Hills. I began studying the piano at age 6. I play for fun. I also love to cook and entertain my friends and family. I truly have a passion for my family, my community and connecting people together. I also am very, very excited about what’s happening in the city of Detroit.
What do you do in your spare time? Despite all my interests, I’m really a very simple creature. When I’m not busy, I escape by watching really trashy reality TV. NS
— Interviewed by Julie Baumkel