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Fueling company in Morris, Illinois, showcases possibilities for women in leadership roles

Fueling company in Morris, Illinois, exhibits possibilities for women in leadership
Fueling company in Morris, Illinois, exhibits possibilities for women in leadership 03:47

CHICAGO (CBS)—A hundred-year-old fueling company is challenging the status quo by being led by a woman of color and owned by three sisters in an industry that's historically male-dominated.

The team at Bell Fuels says since the company's come under female leadership, the positive impact has been undeniable.

It's not until their truck pulls into the loading docks that the show gets on the road - fueling up forklifts, cars, and little yellow personnel carriers for a day of making McCormick Place go around. 

"We are a direct fuel distribution company, which means we have these big trucks that will fill your fleet of trucks with diesel oil, anything that makes it go vroom," says Stella Gaytan, president of Bells Fuels. 

But before the truck could get there, it had to start out in Morris, at Bell Fuels headquarters, just outside of Chicago. 

"So here's our yard, and I know it's full of dust and oil and trucks, but it's a really great place to come out and think," Gaytan said. 

She says the fueling company was presented to her by a group of sisters who wanted a different approach. When the sisters acquired the hundred-year-old fueling company, they put Gaytan at the helm.

"They saw an opportunity for women to get into the industry and really impact it in a different way, different than it has been in the last 100 years," she said. 

Immediately, Gaytan reworked the culture - both in the office and outside of it. She renovated the building, creating a fostered community and facilitating comfort. 

"So me, this is the coolest investment that we've made inside the building," she said. 

"She hosted, you know, lunches for the drivers. She hosted lunches and activities for the whole team. She is really done a good job of bringing everyone together.

Gaytan's influence didn't just make for happy employees, but it also impacted their bottom line. 

"Our efficiency grew by 20%, and really it's just giving the team that already existed here the tools that were essential to them being successful, reinvesting in people, and really, it's that simple," she said. 

But simple doesn't always mean easy. 

"I think the resistance was more of, what's this woman going to do for us and how she going to operate this organization?

Gaytan's remedy to doubt?

"I trust what I know. I  trust my experience, and I trust the other women and men that have supported me and given me a hand to where I'm at today, and I really do silence those people. I truly do.

Stella's leadership goes beyond Bell Fuels. She even hosts a CEO for a day, which helps young girls see the infinite possibilities for women in leadership.

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