It has been a pleasure to be the editor of Fuel Oil News since 2007. It has been an honor to do my small part in maintaining a publication that has been successfully serving the heating oil and, more broadly, the distributed fuel industry since 1935. I say “small part” because the magazine and those that came before me have been so big. However, as the saying goes, I’ve received an “offer I can’t refuse,” and those of you involved on the motor fuel side will likely become aware of that shortly. But enough about that.
When I began editing FON my background had primarily been in motor fuels, and though I was certainly familiar with the home heating oil sector of the industry I didn’t have any depth or nuance. What impressed me from the start, and continued to impress me, was how dynamic heating oil dealers and marketers are in virtually all aspects of their operations.
This is an industry that has adapted and overcome challenges that in many cases go back to the days when a coal or ice delivery company had to make some tough choices about a rapidly changing marketplace. Creativity and adaptability were further required when natural gas pipelines started to snake throughout the country. In fact, the industry has been so proactive and adaptable that even today, with the threat from natural gas being greater than ever, the talk is not about “tough choices” so much, but about how to maximize current opportunities and minimize the known liabilities.
I’ve met dealers in this industry that would be the epitome of a “mom-and-pop” operation who took advantage of technology, creativity and thoughtful management to solidify the future for the next generation. While some of their larger competitors might enjoy economies of scale, these smaller marketers are not lagging behind where efficiency and sophistication are concerned and are often taking advantage of acquisition opportunities to make a more level playing field.
On the fuel front itself, the industry has remade its products to address competitive challenges. Today’s Bioheat blended fuel oil, for example, eliminates natural gas’ claim to being the environmentally clean fuel.
Where the adaptability I noted earlier is concerned, many dealers and marketers in the industry have worked hard to diversify their operations. Some have moved into propane, many have enhanced their HVAC operations and many have found numerous ancillary opportunities to take advantage of the heating season business cycle or core competencies. While some may fully transition from oil into one of these diversification opportunities, by and large that is more of an option based on individual business metrics than some absolute requirement.
I could go on and on. But in a nutshell, this industry and its members have impressed me in new ways with each issue of the magazine we have produced.
As for the magazine itself, it’s been a pleasure to work with such a fine group of professionals. From the editorial side, to sales to management I have both appreciated and enjoyed being part of the FON family for the past nine years. I have absolutely no doubt that this historic publication will continue to serve your needs moving forward with the quality of information you deserve.