Clean Diesel in Quantities Large and Small: Ohio Oil and Fuel Provider Conquers Small Volume Diesel Delivery Niche with Unique Fuel Truck
Anthony Young, of OilWorks LLC., had big dreams when he started his Columbus, Ohio, company in 2011 as a service that collected used oil. Soon the entrepreneur identified a niche market for supplying fresh diesel. As he began to explore a particular segment of clients requiring regular diesel fuel drops for equipment such as excavators, cranes and generators, Thunder Creek Equipment's Multi-Tank Upfit
was just what he needed to grow the business and address that new demand.
Young explains how he identified and capitalized on advantages that a smaller fuel company has in his market. One of the biggest advantages: old-school customer service and attention to detail.
“Unlike many bigger companies, when the customer calls, we pick the phone up and answer,” says Young. “It’s simple, but our customers talk to a person and get immediate answers. They don’t have to login to a computer system. They're not trying to use an app or get into a website. When they call our office, we answer the phone, and they immediately know where our truck is and how soon we can respond. It brings a peace of mind to the customer, especially during a power outage or some other major event. In fact, a customer can call in the morning and we can get them fuel the same day.”
Another big part of winning customer loyalty is delivering the products and services customers need, when they need it. As Young identified the need to deliver diesel in moderate amounts – ranging from dozens of gallons here to 400 gallons there — to jobsites, emergency power stations, universities and more — he was also presented with a new kind of diesel truck: Thunder Creek’s Multi-Tank Upfit.
This truck, available exclusively from Thunder Creek, is equipped to carry 920 gallons of bulk diesel contained in eight, separate,115-gallon fuel tanks, connected through a common pumping manifold. The ability to isolate those tanks into separate 115-gallon containers is what makes the HAZMAT endorsement obsolete.
“The best way to build a business is to figure out what your customer needs. We acquired our first Thunder Creek truck because we found our market had a need for a small volume, service-oriented fuel provider. We knew we couldn't compete on volume with the huge companies, but we could compete on service in this niche market. We found our competitors either didn't service these customers at all, or they just weren’t good at it because of their size. We are smaller and more nimble, and Thunder Creek trucks were just a great fit for OilWorks.”
The company has since added a second Thunder Creek truck with a third on the way, with each truck pumping as much as 2,000 gallons each day on multiple runs. Young shared how one of the first advantages of the Thunder Creek truck is the ability to drive the truck without a HAZMAT certification – a major bonus in a tough labor market.
“When I first thought about expanding my fleet, I knew truck drivers were going to be a problem. This was one of the big factors that lead me to purchase my first Thunder Creek truck. It's easier to acquire a driver because you don’t have to deal with HAZMAT certifications. This was the biggest reason I went down this road. The Thunder Creek truck upfits are our most profitable trucks. This is true especially from a revenue and maintenance standpoint. They produce more profit for the bottom line than any other trucks we have.”
In addition to being a profit generator for Young’s business, the trucks have also driven efficiencies in other areas, from reporting, to the simple ability to get into some tight spots that other trucks or solutions can’t.
“Another advantage is that you don't have to go through all the normal testing that you do on tankers; annual tank testing, all of the stuff that is required with IFTA - just all of the whole litany of regulations that we deal with on a large fuel truck. You don't have that with a Thunder Creek. Also, the cost of operation is lower. It’s a smaller truck, so it's more fuel efficient and it's more nimble. You can get into places you may not be able to safely maneuver a larger truck. We've got backup cameras on these units. When you're on a site, it's a smaller unit, you have much better and safer visibility. It’s very different than trying to fight a 4,500-gallon tank truck into a small construction site where there's tons of activity. Everything is easier.”
The Thunder Creek Multi-Tank Upfit is currently compatible with select, Class 5 truck chassis including Ford F550 and F600, Ram 5500, Chevy 5500, and the International CV515. The rear utility box of the new design contains the diesel pump and the manifold system. Options include fuel meters for tracking, numerous reel options and lengths, and a powerful 10-micron filter to ensure greater fuel quality.
Young pointed out another great advantage that his Thunder Creek truck delivers, especially with changes in diesel engine technology found in today’s construction equipment.
“It delivers filtered fuel. The cleanliness of fuel is becoming more critical in the new environmentally friendly equipment with the injector sizes getting smaller. The cleanliness of the fuel is a very, very important thing. The Thunder Creeks are designed so they can deliver filtered fuel right into the tank — and the larger tank trucks typically can’t do that.”
The trucks are also easy to own and operate — and have put on many miles since first deploying in Young’s fleet.
“These trucks are so easy to operate. You've got one product and only a few buttons to push, so training is incredibly fast. You also don't have to worry about cross drops, (a truck carrying both gas and diesel and somebody messing up and putting gas in a diesel tank). They're easy to train, they're easy to run, and that's been a huge win.”
With the help of Thunder Creek and Young’s strong philosophy of customer service, the fleet of vehicles is growing and OilWorks LLC continues to expand. When asked about their success, he says one thing has not changed since day one.
“Since I started the company, I’ve prided myself on not bringing problems to customers. I solve them. We try to take any problems that customers may be having with current vendors, and we bring solutions. We try to eliminate any kind of issue and work to make the project manager’s job easier. This has driven the growth of the company.”