Independent logistics providers help compete with Big Oil
Ella Johnson rings up another sale at the cash register while her husband, Danny, checks a wiper blade catalog for a customer with a half, salt-encrusted windshield. Business is booming at the Johnson’s western Maryland Gas & Go filling station. Now an independent enterprise, the Mom & Pop team were formerly long-affiliated with one of the big oil companies. Too many corporate demands, high oil prices and low profit margins convinced the couple to shed the corporate franchise five years earlier.
Initially, the were buying their gasoline and diesel from the gypsy jobbers that serviced indies like themselves and companies with on-site fleet pumps. But service was at best, irregular, and often downright unreliable. “We were the last stop on the totem pole,” says Ella. “If somebody ahead of us had an empty tank, our refill was often delayed for days. Too often, we had to tape ‘out of order’ signs on half the pumps, simply because one of our tanks was empty.”