Fuel retailer keeps future in sharp focus
Despite the dismal economy, the owner of Oakland, ME-based Fabian Oil is happy to report the retailer of fuel and home heating oil remains solidly astride a growth curve. According to E.J. Fabian, his firm has grown from a $16 million concern five years ago to boasting revenues of $65 million today. What's more, he expects that through strategic management, the business will double over the next five years.
“We could double in revenues through expected growth and acquisitions,” says Fabian. He launched the company in 1988 with his father-in-law, Bert Marston. In 1996, Fabian bought out Marston to become the sole owner.
According to Fabian, good customer service, marketing, image and smart acquisitions have spelled success for the firm. He relates that it was in 1991 that Fabian saw opportunity in entering the home fuel delivery business. That move worked out so well that the niche has grown to represent about half of his business.
The company now operates five heating oil branches located around Maine — in Oakland, Augusta, Jay, Rumford and Thomaston. “We started out as a wholesale transportation company delivering fuel to gas stations and convenience stores throughout Maine,” says Fabian. “We then opened three of our own stations under the Valero brand.”
Between delivering to homes and convenience stores as well as to its own gas stations, the Fabian Oil fleet is always in the public eye. And Fabian certainly recognizes how valuable its image is on the road, especially given it is as local as its customers and potential customers.
“Looking professional with reliable trucks and delivering on time with courteous drivers says volumes about your company,” points out Fabian. “We have fiveT800s and W900s hauling 10,000-gal. tankers making deliveries. The drivers love the comfort and from a mechanical standpoint, we've never had a problem. Both models are excellent work trucks.”
To handle home fuel deliveries, Fabian runs a fleet of Kenworth medium-duty tankwagons. The fleet's latest order of KW T370 trucks are powered by Paccar PX-8 engines driven through Allison automatic transmissions. “We have 10 oil trucks with 2,800- and 3,000-gal. tanks, plus three propane trucks with up to 3,600-gal. capacity,” notes Fabian. To increase productivity, the oil tankwagons have two and sometimes three compartments, so heating oil, kerosene, and different grades of diesel fuel can be carried at one time.
“Our drivers will average 30 to 40 [home delivery] stops per day — some up to 60. So, we put a lot of emphasis on driver comfort,” says Fabian. “And this type of stop-and-go puts a tremendous amount of wear and tear on a cab, especially the doors.”
To offload fuel and heating oil, Fabian's trucks are equipped with PTOs that drive transfer pumps capable of moving 80 gal. a minute. “That kind of pumping volume can get us moving on to the next delivery very fast,” says Fabian. “For our residential customers, the average fill is 150 gal., so we're able to get in and out very quickly.”
“With our Kenworths, we've never had to worry about our drivers or the integrity of our cabs,” Fabian notes. “The cabs and doors stay tight with no sag. The visibility from the cab is excellent and since our guys can't spend time and energy worrying about tight delivery areas, the maneuverability of these trucks is critical to us.”