Shark cage diving, bungee jumping, sky diving and a wild animal safari — and that was in just one day in the adventuresome life of Madison "Maddie" Cullen.
These days you can find her at the Alamitos Bay fuel dock.
A Milligan High grad, Maddie spent a semester at sea in 2018, four months circumnavigating the globe. She said she made lifelong friendships and learned of a world without social media, texting or phones — they played cards, danced, all experienced some once-in-a-lifetime adventures. At college and at sea — she went from knowing no one to quickly making lasting friendships. She said, “Being outside my element — being uncomfortable — is my thing.”
She went on to complete her degree in public relations with a minor in business at the University of Oregon. Maddie said she and was ready to launch her career with a Portland real estate firm, and made a four-month commitment for temporary housing and was packed and ready to hit the ground running. Then COVID-19 hit, and since onsite training was no longer possible the job offer was rescinded.
After successfully unwinding the housing lease, she headed home to Long Beach.
Her dad, Matt Cullen, owner and president of petro company Amber Resources, suggested she join the company as the third generation employee. Maddie’s grandfather, Pat Cullen, the CEO Emeritus, passed in April 2020. He started the company when he purchasing Dion and Sons, Inc. back in 1985.
With her older sister living in Washington, D.C. working for the Department of State, and her younger brother a student at CSULB with a part time job at the fuel dock, it seemed like good timing for Madison to join the family business and be mentored by her father.
“My dad is the smartest man I know,” Maddie said when asked how it is working for family. She is busy setting up accounts, and gave some insight, “We work on a fixed margin, that can change daily. Plus our fuel is ‘all in’ one price, no extras, so often customers call me for current pricing.”
They have done some serious upgrades since February, when they began operating the fuel docks at Alamitos Bay and Shoreline Marina, including installing state-of-the-art fuel polishing equipment and a massive ice machine. They remodeled the convenience store and added a large soon-to-be stocked tackle shop. Coors Light, sleeveless shirts and buckets of ice are some of the most popular items.
Amber Resources just became one of the only local sources for CNG (Compressed Natural Gas). CNG stoves are uncommon except in Southern California, and the gas is tricky to transport, so many owners of older boats had problems finding the light gas. Boaters prefer it because it does not build up in the bilge like heavier fuels. So her father suggested, “Let’s just solve it (the transportation issue) ourselves.”
Maddie researched CNG vendors and was able to source the fuel from their propane distributor. She also has helped boaters replace their outdated tanks with safer ones.
Maddie went on to explain her pet project:
“Since our company is a full service petroleum distributor, we have the ability to make a non-alcohol benzalkonium chloride-based leave-on hand sanitizer. It is available in gallon jugs, 2 ounce and 8 ounce (bottles), with all profits going to the Long Beach Rescue Mission — a charity we believe in. “
Her proud father chimed in, “This entire project is Maddie’s — she has even worked with companies to provide private labeling of the sanitizer.”
How does she keep the need for adrenaline in check? She said she just started doing some serious off road racing — a family passion. She learned how on a Friday and raced on Saturday in a dune buggy-like “one car” with a top speed of 112 mph in a dry lake bed — taking first overall in the sportsmen’s class in her first race.
Matt Cullen often says, “Our Company’s mantra is MAGIC — Making A Great Impression on Customers.” And Madison is living up to it by adding customers and products, with a dose of adventure on the side.
Special thanks to Navy Yacht Club of Long Beach Rear Commodore Hap Wood, who suggested I write about Madison. If you have an on-the-water story to share, email me at Jo@JoVenture.com.