By Charlie Bursey
Over the past 8-10 years, many of the established full service oil company owners have diversified into new areas of business, such as A/C, water conditioning and LP gas filling stations etc. From what I hear these opportunities have worked well and have added much needed revenue for many operations. I also continue to hear about how the fuel oil business seems to be on the decline. However, from many of the experts who track this subject and from many of the articles I have read, this is very much a disputed statement.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, much of the decline in the fuel oil gallonage can be attributed to the much higher efficiency and low mass equipment being manufactured.
Another area that is undisputed that has contributed to the decline in oil sale has been the number of oil to either propane of natural gas conversions that have taken place over the past years. We have also witnessed how the rebates offered by the natural gas companies have become a huge incentive for the conversions, let alone the recent [but now rationalized] price difference between the two fuels that encouraged changing from oil to gas.
There are still several other areas of new potential business that for the most part remain untapped, and that can be another means of adding more revenue to the bottom line.
One is air quality, for both residential and commercial applications. Perhaps you may not realize it, but if you have ever visited a casino they do several hundred air changes per hour to give their customers a cleaner quality of breathable air.
Humidification is another area that doesn’t seem to get the attention it should, but it too is extremely important in having a healthy and comfortable home or work place. Many homes today, lack proper humidification that along with air quality can also lead to health issues.
There are several manufacturing companies that offer both training and equipment relative to what could be a new area of business that I have mentioned.
Another new and upcoming area of business that I hear a lot about is the swimming pool service business, which like air condition is a great seasonal business. I also think that in the near future we will see more of the supply companies adding pool heaters, pumps, filter and repair parts to their lines. I know there are some oil companies in D.C. and the surrounding areas that as soon as the cherry blossoms arrive in April will begin their in-ground swimming pool services.
Besides the areas of equipment that I mentioned, they will actually do pool openings, which includes vacuuming and adding chemicals as need to provide their customers with a clean, safe and healthy in-ground pools. I can also say that this business is very profitable, because the chemicals bring in the most revenue (and remember that this is repeat business). For example, opening and closing the pool, servicing the equipment,weekly cleaning and vacuuming, balancing the chemicals and replacing liners.