A look at how contractors are refueling their equipment

Fuel can filling equipment (Photo: gabort71/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)
Fuel can filling equipment (Photo: gabort71/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)
Fuel can filling equipment (Photo: gabort71/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)
Easy does it Fuel is a key component of landscape businesses, so many pros say they’re careful to conserve it. (Photo: gabort71/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

This spring, LM surveyed our readers to learn more about their refueling practices. The survey resulted in a robust response, with 294 readers telling us when and how often they refueled and what their opinion was on ethanol and additives. The complete survey is available here. While the results were mixed, fuel was certainly a combustible topic with readers.

“Fuel is a major expense; we spend $60,000 a year on fuel,” says Nate Moses, president, Precision Landscape Management, Greenville, S.C. “To be an efficient, sustainable business, you have to be responsible with it.”

Fuel treatment question (Graph: LM Staff)
Graph: LM Staff

Michael Bedell, owner of Bedell Property Management in Milford, Mich., remembers several years ago when his company relied on nearby gas stations for fuel. Over the course of a year, sending employees to the gas station, unloading the equipment, loading it back up and getting to the job site resulted in days of nonproductive work, he says. So, he invested in a fuel tank on his property.

Graph for equipment recycling question (Photo: LM Staff)
Graph: LM Staff

“While we don’t save much on the price per gallon, the savings on labor was a no-brainer,” Bedell says. “And as a plus-one, we got real serious about getting only ethanol-free fuel. We learned the value of having better fuel in our equipment.”

Graph for gassing up equipment question (Graph: LM Staff)
Graph: LM Staff

Precision Landscape, like Bedell Property Management, switched to on-site fuel tanks about seven years ago. And also like Bedell, Precision avoids ethanol.

“We had a small piece of equipment, something went wrong with it, and we found out it wasn’t warrantied because there was ethanol in the fuel,” Moses recalls. “We made the mistake, and I decided we weren’t going to make that mistake again.”

Graph for ethanol-free question (Graph: LM Staff)
Graph: LM Staff

Cadre Landscape in Los Angeles operates 11 trucks and does all commercial maintenance. Julio Lopez, CEO, says this year has been “crazy,” and the company is having one of its best years in the seven years since he founded it. Since he doesn’t have a central yard, Lopez allows his crews to gas up at gas stations, but only certain ones.

Graph for using ethanol-free fuel question (Graph: LM Staff)
Graph: LM Staff

“We use national companies like Exxon, Shell, Chevron, Valero,” he says. “Forget the cheap (gas stations). We have problems with their fuel, especially in the small mowers. They just won’t work the same. And we use regular, no ethanol — my guys all know this, but we had to go through a learning curve.”

Photo: Seth Jones

Seth Jones

Seth Jones is is editor-in-chief of Landscape Management, Golfdom and Athletic Turf magazines. A graduate of Kansas University’s William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Seth was voted best columnist in the industry in 2014 and 2018 by the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association. He has more than 23 years of experience in the golf and turf industries and has traveled the world seeking great stories.

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