The 2009 edition of the Fuel Oil News SourceBook is based upon an e-mail blast to over 5,000 members of our readership and was facilitated by an online answer process. As noted with each issue of the survey, there are no claims that this is an absolute, granular insight into every market and business model being practiced by industry members. Look on it, rather, as a general overview of a slice of the industry.
New this year, is a focus on the national data average instead of offering regional breakouts. Our gross response rate is typically in the hundreds (167 this year), yet the regional responses for the South and Midwest (and this year, the West) have shrunk to the point where the data is inadequate for meaningful results. This is particularly the case when you have skewed responses in those regions from operations that might not be of typical scale or typical business focus.
For the data itself, some respondents might be a smaller dealer operations, and others larger marketer supplier operations that offer some retail service. That mix will dynamically change each year. We comb though the data to eliminate failed survey responses, and we then we look to provide a more median based average, where we eliminate the largest and smallest companies from the mix since, in some cases, a particularly large respondent can dramatically skew the general results relative to the average FON reader.
For general background information, the regional dispersion of the respondents is as follows:
NEW ENGLAND: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island
MID-ATLANTIC: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Delaware, Washington, D.C.
SOUTH: Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida
MIDWEST: Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Wisconsin
WEST: Oklahoma, Texas, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Hawaii
This year’s panel
Tables 2-4 outlined the general business models of this year’s respondents. Some 71% of respondents reported petroleum as their primary source of income. The percentages reflect companies that reported these areas as a primary or secondary sources of income (but not necessarily THE primary or secondary source of income). Where primary sources of income are concerned, retail fuel oil sales average out at 68%; bulk fuel oil sales at 9%; retail gasoline at 5%; bulk gasoline at 5%; propane at 4%; heating equipment at 19% and air-conditioning at 13%.
What were your company’s sources of business income?
Retail fuel oil
Bulk fuel oil
LPG/LNG, retail or bulk
Heating equipment sales
Air-conditioning equipment sales
Some 13 percent of respondents cited ‘other” sources of income as a primary or secondary source of income. These included diesel fuel sales, equipment servicing, the mid-stream refueling of tow boats, environmental services, refining, home appliances, plumbing, pool water, C-store and QSR, real estate, and lubricants.
Table 3 covers the average size of the business by charting the average number of retail customers, commercial customers and employees. Our 2009 data indicates that this year’s respondents were slightly larger companies than those last year.
Average Size of Business
The larger sized companies were also represented in this year’s average volume figures (Table 4). Looking at the raw data, we saw the participation of several notably large marketers involved in diesel sales.
Average Volume of all respondents
Table 5 provides an overview of the respondents’ customer base. As is typically the case, the majority of the customers ‘76% ‘ were residential. With some minor changes ‘ slightly more apartment and commercial business this year ‘ the figures were relatively in line with those from 2008.
Annual Heating Oil Sales by Types of Customers
(Percent of total customers served)
Table 6 covers Total Annual Company Dollar Revenues. Roughly 59% of the companies fell in the $5 million or under range. Some 72% of all respondents had revenues under $10 million. The greatest shift from last year was the participation of several very large operations. While the impact of these companies was generally accounted for and reduced to limit an excessive influence in the tables, it still flavors much of the data.
Total Annual Company Dollar Revenues in Millions
(Percent of marketers in each category)
Less than 1
Greater than 50
The data for Pre-Tax earnings (Table 7) are roughly in line with the revenue figures.
(Percent of marketers in each category)
Less than $50,000
$50,000 – $250,000
More Than $500,000
The 2009 respondents indicated that their headquarters’ operations were highly computerized for the typical accounting back office functions. Where specific applications are concerned (Table 8/Chart) general ledger (90%), accounts receivable (81%), and accounts payable (81%) were by far the heaviest used software applications. As would be expected word processing and payroll software saw heavy use. It was more of a mixed bag where product tracking and field operations are concerned. A total of 55% used inventory reconciliation systems, 26% routing and 13% mapping/automated delivery.
Percent of marketers using listed computer applications
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