by Dan Moriarty, Staff Writer
WEST SPRINGFIELD - An axiom in business is that timing is everything. That maxim applies to the success of Frasco Fuel.
Dave Frasco started his oil delivery and service company as a one-truck business 14 years ago. Frasco, located on Westfield Street (Route 20) in West Springfield now employs 14 people, including clerks, burner technicians and drivers.
One of the cornerstones of Frasco's business has been fleet refueling. That service has grown in demand as environmental laws regulating in-group fuel tanks have become more stringent. The financial liability related to the cost of cleaning oil leaking from tanks and the penalties that can be assessed for environmental damage have both increased dramatically in recent years.
"We pump fuel truck to truck, some people don't need in-group storage," Frasco said. "I've got three guys and that's all they do, that's their whole job, delivering diesel fuel in our fleet refueling division.
"That's how I got started 14 years ago, fleet refueling. I was a one-man band, on my own for three years before I hired any help.
"Our fleet refueling service is even more in demand now because of the new environmental laws for under-ground storage tanks, and the requirements for monitoring and testing. A lot of businesses don't want that exposure," he said.
"This area is slowly coming back to the trucking industry. Also, industry in general is picking up, which means transportation is picking up," he said.
"We've met the demand of the '90s by creating a service that is environmentally friendly while providing a good service at a good price to our customers," Frasco said.
The fleet refueling is also growing in popularity because it cuts down on the client's payroll costs.
"We bring fuel to customers daily which they prefer because it's both a time saver and a money saver. They don't have to pay their own drivers to refuel. If a company has five trucks, that meant five drivers had to refuel. If they all came back to the year at the same time, the drivers would wait in line for their turn at the pump.
"With our fleet service, the drivers return to the business, park their trucks and go home. Overnight we refuel the trucks, so they're ready in the morning," Frasco said.
Frasco said his crews pump fuel faster because his trucks are equipped with 1 3/8-inch hoses, while fuel pumps have only 5/8-inch hoses.
"We're equipped to do multiple trucks in one shot," he said.
Frasco has also expanded his heating oil and burner service divisions.
"This will be our third season for the burner service division," he said. "We have two licensed burner technicians who do everything from complete installations to repairs to conversions. We've done a lot of change overs from electric heat systems to oil."
The firm also installs oil tanks and will remove a basement tank. "We get a lot of calls from people who are taking a tank out of the ground and want one installed in their basement. We also install underground tanks. The only thing we don't do is remove underground tanks. There are companies that specialize in that," he said.
"When I got started in the home heating oil business, I didn't deliver nearly the volume of oil that I do today. My first customers were friends and family members," Frasco said.
The secret is to treat people right and deliver honest service at an attractive price. That approach has nurtured both his fleet fuel and heating oil divisions.
“Business has gotten bigger in both directions,” he said. “We work seven days a week, 365 days a year because that’s what our customers need."
Frasco’s truck is now a familiar sight in the region between the Berkshires and Belchertown. In addition to many business and residential accounts, the company provides diesel fuel and heating oil for several area municipalities.
“I’ve had the (diesel) fuel account in Westfield for the past eight years, the fuel for the Department of Public Words, the airport, landfill and G&E Departments. We also provide all the elementary schools in the Gateway School District with heating oil,” Frasco said.
“Our area of operation covers a big part of western Massachusetts. I’ve got trucks garaged in a lot of local communities, that helps if there’s a problem, getting someone to the customer quickly.
“We’re getting well known in the area, known as a full-service, discount oil dealer,” he said.