Glass Shops Share Ways They've Found to Offset High Gasoline Charges

by Ellen Giard Rogers

The Energy Information Administration, Office of Energy Statistics from the U.S. Government, reported gasoline prices to be up 43.4 cents per gallon compared to this time last year. And while we may enjoy the occasional price dip here and there, forecasts are calling for gas prices to remain high into next year, as well.

High gasoline costs have taken a toll on the way many companies operate, including glass shops that depend on transporting their glass from place to place for business. For many shops the effects have been substantial.

Darryl Maslak, president of Plymouth Glass & Mirror in Thomaston, Conn., says he has seen a major impact from the high fuel costs.

"Our fuel costs have increased nearly 50 percent over the past three years," Maslak says. "My fuel bill used to be $4,000 a month and now it's $6,000 month."

Rusty Webb, president and owner of Allied Glass Co. in Knoxville, Tenn., agrees that the cost of gasoline has impacted his business.

"It really cuts into your profit," says Webb.

These shops, however, like many others, are finding ways to survive the high costs. Maslak says his company has chosen to implement a small surcharge on service work.

"Not on in-house work, but just with service vehicles on residential, commercial or auto glass jobs," Maslak says. "It's about a $3 surcharge on work orders."

Another way shops are working to offset the high fuel cost is by being aware of just where the trucks are going and grouping jobs together. Webb says his company installed global positioning systems (GPS) in all of his company's trucks six months ago, and the results have been positive.

"We try to consolidate all of the work. [The GPS] has helped our business because we don't have to drive as much it takes you right to the site the shortest way possible," says Webb.

While Maslak says his company has not yet used GPS, it is still conscious of where the trucks are going.

"We try to keep the same work (auto or flat glass) and same truck in the same area. This can be hard when you have auto and flat glass because the trucks can criss-cross each other since the auto glass installers don't do flat and the flat installers don't do auto," says Maslak.

And just what about hybrid vehicles? They are becoming increasingly popular among consumers, but have they started to penetrate the business world, too? Neither Maslak nor Webb says they have yet to take the plunge with a hybrid.

"They are still new, but they are starting to become popular," says Maslak. "At some point I would like to try one out and see how that goes."

John Weise, president of F. Barkow in Milwaukee, says he has yet to see any hybrid trucks enter the market, but expects it may not be too far off before the vehicle manufacturers make one available. He adds he's also seen a shift to more diesel engines and smaller V-8 vehicles as ways companies are trying to be more fuel conscious.

According to Maslak, aside from consolidating jobs, there are other avenues that may help reduce fuel costs.

"We're trying vehicles other than those made in the United States because the fuel mileage on American-made trucks is terrible," he says. "That seems to be working well."

When the time comes for a glass shop to make a new vehicle purchase just what are the most important considerations? Maslak says it's definitely the fuel mileage, but Webb has a different take.

"It's more about the vehicle quality and the service of the vehicle and not as much the gas mileage," says Webb. "You want [the truck] to work best for what you're doing with it."

Regardless of the model and make of the vehicle, there are still a number of precautions glass shops can take to ensure maximum fuel efficiency. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, efficient driving (i.e. abiding by the speed limit) and routine vehicle maintenance are just a couple of ways to save gas. Removing extra weight from the vehicle can also be advantageous. According to the DOE an extra 100 pounds in the trunk reduces a typical car's fuel economy by 1- 2 percent.

CLICK HERE for more information about fuel economy and gas mileage tips.

Ellen Giard Rogers is a contributing editor for USGNN.com/USGlass magazine.

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