Spring is almost here, but for heating oil dealers the last five months or so have been too much like spring and not enough like winter. Fortunately, oil prices have been very low, generating at least a little bit of margin opportunity as well as greater satisfaction with our core fuel among customers. On the plus side, oil prices are likely to stay fairly low into next heating season, barring something unusual, and the weather is not as likely to be as warm as it was this year if historical averages are any indication.
So as we move into spring we also move into the spring show season. In addition to the many state shows and training events that are working their way onto the calendar, there is something new this year that should be generating a fair degree of excitement throughout the industry—we get our first look at the Eastern Energy Expo.
For a number of years now there has been a background buzz centered on the idea that there needs to be some degree of consolidation among the regional and state shows serving the industry. Everybody is pressed for time, and that includes both exhibitors and attendees. And then there are the budgets, which are less forgiving than most would like, also for both attendees and exhibitors. While shows in the industry do an excellent job providing value for attendance respectively, there is invariably a significant amount of crossover.
The latest and most substantial move in that direction was merger of the Atlantic Regional Energy Expo event with the Oil & Energy Service Professionals’ convention and trade show and the Pennsylvania Petroleum Association’s event. The Eastern Energy Expo, covered in our Show Guide, takes what was offered previously by the independent organizations and enhances efficiency and provides a number of value. The Eastern Energy Expo now has a solid foundation built upon deliverable heating fuels, HVAC appliances and service relative to those fuels, bulk plant operations and wholesale motor fuels delivery. There is even some focus of the c-store side. This should provide a strong platform for FON readers both in core areas and in areas of diversification throughout the industry. The inaugural show hasn’t occurred yet, so it’s obviously too early to see how it played out. Look for another column after the show where we take a look at just how well the new format worked out.
We’ve also included coverage in our Show Guide this year of the National Propane Gas Association’s Southeastern Convention & International Propane Expo. Held in Nashville this year, it’s a significant event that features a solid lineup of education and a healthy tradeshow. As the title of our magazine indicates, our core audience is the heating oil industry. However, as our tagline notes we more broadly cover the diversified, deliverable fuels that our energy companies provide their customers. Nashville is not necessarily “down the street,” like so many Northeastern shows are for this industry, but dealer shouldn’t be too busy come May and if you’re into propane, or are considering the move, the show should deliver what you need.
Be sure to get a good set of walking shoes, and have fun and success at the shows.