Thursday, February 8, 2018

Ultimate Guide To Starting A Mobile Gas Fueling Service: Part 2

Fuel Trailer Vs; Fuel Truck

One of the most common questions we get is: "Why a TransFueler, instead of a fuel truck?"

This is a pretty easy question for us, as it addresses one of the primary reasons we sell so many mobile fuel trailers.

Fundamentally, it comes down to cost and convenience.  A dedicated fuel truck is considerably more expensive, more cumbersome to drive, and is limited to only refueling vehicles. When you choose a brand new TransFueler, you can save about $150,000 - 250,000 versus a new truck, or about $60,000-100,000 versus a used truck. And a LOT of these trucks are pretty worn out...

12 year old fuel truck we sold to a customer for $105,000

You do need a basic pickup truck, and suitable new trucks can be bought for between $24,000 and $40,000.  Good used trucks can be easily found from $10,000 and up... And, a standard pickup can be used for a variety of other uses of course, including personal transportation.

TransFueler Aviation refueler towed by a standard pickup

Another aspect, is the lower profile (literally...) of a TransFueler / pickup combo. Fuel trucks are built on heavy duty commercial chassis. Great for hauling large capacities over long distances. Not so good for servicing cars in an office building parking lot. It's all about using the right tool for the job. 

Why buy, drive & maintain a huge, heavy-duty commercial truck, when a standard size pickup & trailer will accomplish the same task? That is precisely why, so many folks are using TransFueler mobile refuelers instead. 

If you're thinking of entering this very interesting new industry, give us a call. We've got more experience with these systems than anyone.  We'll set you up with the right tool, for your situation. And if you really do want a big commercial type fuel truck, we can sell you one of those as well...

Next installment: Software & apps. How are you planning on attracting customers, setting appointments, and tracking their purchases?

Friday, February 2, 2018

Ultimate Guide To Starting A Mobile Gas Fueling Business: Part 1

We are frequently contacted by folks planning on entering the on-site car refueling business.

You may have noticed a few of these operations springing up around the country. The basic premise is to buy a truck or trailer mounted fuel tank system, and travel around the local area filling individual's gas tanks.
While a few are actually operating, far, far more underestimate the barriers to entry in this market.  You cannot simply buy a fuel tank and run around selling gas (or diesel) out of your pickup truck.  

In our years of experience building and dealing with these refueling systems, we've discovered most of the secrets needed to successfully open your own mobile gas station...

The laws & regulations pertaining to this subject are vast and complex.  They are also sometimes contradictory & subject to "interpretation" by a variety of public agencies. From fire departments, to environmental commissions, to planning, to permitting, to the local trade office.  Seems like everyone wants a say in how this arena is managed. Having been in  the refueler business for over 11 years, We're still uncovering different interpretations limiting our customers from using mobile fueling systems.

We try to keep up with the federal regulations, but can't come close to monitoring the thousands of local authorities who wish to have a say in the matter.  Clearly stated on our quotes, sales orders, etc is a strong disclaimer that the end user is responsible for compliance with the myriad of rules covering mobile fueling operations & fuel transport.

A quick & basic rundown of what is typically needed to operate as a mobile fuel seller:
  • Fuel trailer or truck. Must be DOT legal for the type of fuel transported. For diesel, a "non-code" tank if fine. For gas, either a DOT406 or a UN31 rated tank is needed. There is an exception for a very limited number of small (under 119 gallons) tanks that come with a specific DOT exemption letter for gasoline.  These tanks are what we base our TransFueler M-Series around.  You still need a haz-mat license, but you do not need a DOT406 certified tank with the M-Series.  Simple, right?
  • "Resale Meter"  In order to sell fuel, you must have a special meter to ensure you are actually dispensing the amount of fuel you are charging for. Makes sense, you don't want someone with an inaccurate meter charging you for fuel not delivered. These meters are fairly costly, and must be tested & sealed by usually a county department of weights & measures.  You'll see their "seal" stickers on your local gas pump.  They are also the folks who check the scales at the supermarket making sure your meat & produce is accurately weighed. 
  • Haz-Mat license.  Federal law requires the driver to have a valid haz-mat endorsement on their drivers license when carrying in excess of 145 gallons. This is a still fairly unknown rule, but as these systems become more popular, expect this to be more widely noticed and enforced. 
Those are the basics.  

Next time: We discuss the question of fuel truck, versus fuel trailer.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Here comes 2018...

Hard to believe, but 2017 went by in a flash. It was a record smashing year for us, and we're looking forward to 2018 to be just as busy, productive & fun.

We'll be introducing a couple brand new refueling systems this year, as well as continuously refining our existing products.

After over 10 years selling direct, we're now in the midst of building our dealer network. Our first dealers are ag equipment dealers in the midwest. These folks recognize that they need to refuel large equipment, literally in the field.

We've developed a dealer agreement which should be favorable to both our dealers and us. Sounds cliche, but for us a win-win arrangement is the only way to do business. Works for our customers as well. They will now have better access to parts & service.

I took us a long time to consider all the aspects of bringing dealers into the mix. In the end, we decided it is the best plan for all. We have more folks selling our terrific TransFuelers. Our dealers have a new & very effective system to offer their customers. Customers have a local dealer to work with and help them when needed.

WIN-WIN-WIN in my view...

Friday, December 15, 2017

Off the Grid

We've been talking with a fair number of people who are increasingly living either off-grid, or approaching it.

Of course, in this scenario, "the grid" is our country's electricity generation & distribution network. It's not just "preppers", and back-to-the-land folks who are exiting the traditional public utility power system.

The guy who works on my RV lives on ten acres nearby, and he's transitioning off grid. Steve and his wife grow much of their own produce, and raise chickens for both eggs & meat.  They have a well, providing their own water.

They installed a solar panel system, and are now producing solar electric power, even in this cloudy Washington weather.  Steve recently built a nice generator, powered by a small diesel engine. This will help provide steady power when it's dark, and when they need more power than the solar array will produce.

He and his wife also have vehicles to drive, a tractor, etc.  So they bought a TransFueler mobile fuel trailer to keep their diesel tanks filled.  Steve figured a 500 gallon tank would be about right, and last them almost a year.  They have a local fuel supplier come to their place to refill the TransFueler, but they could also easily tow it to the fuel supplier for filling.

Steve's still on "the grid", but inching closer to cutting the cord entirely. It's been a relatively painless transition, as they still have full access to the local power company.  Maybe they will never permanently go off-grid, but they know they have the capability to.

No matter what, Steve can keep the lights on, the house warm, cold food in the fridge, and clean water in the tap...

Think about how your family would fare in a major disruption of power.  How long could you stay comfortable, warm & well fed? 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Winter is coming... Is your generator ready?

Winter, as we all know, will soon be bringing dark & stormy weather.

The southern region of the country is still recovering from a very active hurricane season.  Huge areas were knocked out of power for days.  Following the tragic heat caused death of eight patients of a Florida nursing home, the Florida legislature enacted an emergency law requiring all nursing & medical facilities to maintain a 96 hour supply of backup power.  This means, all of those facilities must have standby generators capable of providing emergency power for four days.  We have provided dozens of refuelers to these facilities, so they may remain in compliance.

We also sent almost 80 mobile refuelers to Puerto Rico for their storm disaster recovery. These will be used to rebuild infrastructure, particularly communications & public utilities.

It becomes ever so clear, that "prevention" is much harder to sell than "cure".  

Had the nursing home in Florida prepared adequately, tragic loss of life may have been averted.  If the utility companies in Puerto Rico had planned ahead, they could have recovered from the hurricanes far more quickly.  It's always easier to realize you've got a problem or weakness after the fact.  Preparing & planning ahead, vastly reduces the chance of disaster becoming a far worse event for your community.

Which brings us back around to winter...
This year, there will undoubtedly be thousands of people left in the dark due to weather related power outages. Some only briefly, some for longer periods of time.

In the massive Northeast power outage several years ago, over 55% of standby generators failed to start. The primary cause?  Stale, old fuel. Bio-growth in tanks. Clogged fuel filters.
too many companies, public agencies, etc., had simply let their generators sit with little to no maintenance.  Take this as your cue to go try and start your backup generator.  Run it for at least a half hour, under load if possible. Do this now, BEFORE you need to rely on it to provide emergency power.

You'll also want to consider how much run time your generator can provide.  When the fuel tank runs dry, no more power...  You don't want to count on fuel suppliers to come out during a power outage, at least not anytime soon...

This is when you realize that a TransFueler might be a very good thing to buy. Refuel your generators when you need to.  24/7, every day of the year, including weekends & holidays..

We recently sold 14 TransFueler 1000 gallon fuel trailers to a major grocery store chain. One for each of their regional warehouses. Before, they were limited to a few hours of generator run time. Now, they can refuel their standby generators for several days in case of an extended power failure.

That's the kind of forward thinking that will keep them up & running...

Interested in keeping your backup power generators running & supplying power? Call us, we'll build a TransFueler for you.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Made In America. Does it matter?

Since we started this company over 10 years ago, we've been proponents of having everything made in America.

We believe in supporting our fellow American workers first.  Granted, this is one planet we all live on.  We do not mean that our brothers & sisters in other countries are inferior, or less able to build our products.  We simply believe that improving our world begins at home. In our case, that translates to creating as many jobs here in America as possible.

We all know that so many of the products we buy & use are made in China, Vietnam, etc. We've all had those interesting tech phone calls with outsourced agents in India. Pretty much all those foreign workers are doing their best to make an honest living & support their families. 

We just differ, in that our company thinks it's smarter to keep our fellow Americans working, before we hand off jobs to another nation's workers.  Could we make more money by outsourcing & offshoring our products? Most likely we could.  Instead we prefer to employ as many Americans (and those who have the legal right to work here...) as we can.

We don't spend a lot of time thinking about TPP, NAFTA, and the myriad of other government trade policies. We think constantly about how to provide a better refueler to our customers, at a fair price. 

I, the primary owner of this company, don't think it's smart to get into political arguments in the context of business. Surely, I'll offend both those on the left, as well as those on the right.  I do want it to be clear though; we strive to be an excellent American company.

Ed Dunn

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Best? What's The Best?

Best. Biggest. Greatest. Etc. Etc. Etc...

When we started in business, (2007)  there were maybe a couple other companies in the mobile fuel trailer business. One is long gone, they were wildly overpriced. The other is a mom & pop type operation, and they keep on selling a few refuelers a year.

Since we established the TransFueler brand in 2009, a couple other competitors had popped up. As we grew, still others jumped on the bandwagon.  Each tries to differentiate themselves, as all businesses ought to do. Most simply copy what we've done with the TransFueler line, with minor variations. A couple actually produce a well made product, but most are just copy-cats.

That's ok, we don't mind fair competition.  We're confident that our customers can figure out the difference between the original TransFueler, and the rest.

As we've grown, we've also stuck with an excellent partner: Western Global.  They nicely round out our range of products. Complementing, but not competing with our own TransFueler refuelers.  With our TransFueler lines, our Western Global TransCube, FuelCube & ABBI lines, we remain the world's largest selection of portable, mobile refuelers.

As we've pointed our before, we don't have to try to sell you just one or two choices. We have literally the widest selection in the industry.  Our associates use a consultative sales approach: we ask a lot of questions, and fit you into the best refueler for your situation.  Our sales staff does not get bonuses on pushing a particular product. They are trained to help establish the right fit, for each customer's specific needs.

That is what makes us the best in the business. 

Give us a call. We've helped others in your situation save time, money and hassle with their refueling needs.