Feeling the fuel bite - East Valley Tribune: Business

Feeling the fuel bite

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Posted: Saturday, April 9, 2005 7:46 am | Updated: 7:44 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The rising price of gasoline is permeating virtually every facet of life for East Valley businesses, particularly firms that daily go door-to-door.

Nearly every company contacted about the price rise acknowledged the impact on their bottom lines.

Some said they’re dealing with the problem by adding extra costs to their customers’ bills, while others are bearing the added financial burden themselves — hoping and patiently waiting for prices to eventually drop.

"We’ve talked about adding a $5 surcharge to our bills, but we’ve decided to hold back on that," said Bethany Poehls, accounts payable manager for Air Conditioning by Jay, 7595 E. Gray Road, Scottsdale.

Her company, like most air conditioning firms, services residential and commercial units throughout the Valley.

"The gas price increase is definitely affecting our budget, but so far not that much," Poehls said. "We’re spending more than we normally would, but we can live with it — for a while, anyway."

Judy Crouse, financial manager for Valley Services Co., a Valleywide air condition service company, said her firm is bearing the price rise, but its coming from another direction.

"The rising price of gasoline as well as the climbing costs of metal and steel is combining to increase the overall prices our customers — and us — are paying," Crouse said.

"We’ve had to pay fuel surcharges of between $5 and $10 to our manufacturers, but so far our technicians who drive to and from jobs aren’t adding the increase cost of gasoline to their bills. We’re watching the gasoline prices, though."

Smaller East Valley businesses are among those hardest hit, the survey showed.

Flowers Forever, 4930 E. Main St., Mesa, delivers flowers only in Mesa and Gilbert.

"We’ve had to raise our delivery fee by $1 a month ago from $7 to $8 because of the rising price of gasoline," said Jo Davis, an employee at the shop.

"Whether we will have to raise it again, I don’t know."

Meanwhile, Terri Robinson, owner of Ambrosia Floral Boutique, 1949 W. Ray Road, Chandler, found another solution to the gasoline dilemma.

"We’re fighting it by buying a delivery vehicle that gets better gas mileage," said Robinson, who delivers throughout the Valley.

"Our regular delivery van is paid off, so we decided as gas costs go up it’s time to buy a vehicle that gets between 30 and 35 miles per gallon. So far it’s working," Robinson said.

Allstate Cab Co., which serves the entire Valley with about 100 cabs, has also found another solution.

"The rise in gas price is not really hurting us," said Jennifer Bass, district manager. "For one thing, we have 65 cabs that are operated on compressed natural gas."

Bass said the Tucson-based company, which serves the Valley and Pima County, is not considering raising its customer rates because of the gas price increase.

However, Discount Cab, a local company with about 300 of about 800 cabs that serves the entire Valley, is considering raising its fares.

"We’re thinking about raising the fares a little, but so far they’re still the same," said Jim Constantine, driver manager.

He said many of the cab drivers, who lease their cabs from Discount and pay for gasoline out-of-pocket, are asking for the rate increase.

"The drivers are saying they’re spending about $15 a day for gasoline because of the price increase and they don’t like it," Constantine said.

Bare Care Diaper Service, a Surprise-based company that makes diaper pickup and deliveries throughout Valley, also is pondering raising its fees.

"Last year, our gasoline costs increased by $1,000 over the previous year and this year they may be even higher," said owner Marilyn Travis. "We just can’t afford to keep paying the higher prices."

Her company now charges $12.50 a week for pickup and delivery.

"Yes, we’re directly affected by the rise in gasoline prices," said Jenna Johnson, an employee of Labrum Landscape, 17046 S. Weber Drive, Chandler.

"Our subcontractors, especially the companies that deliver sand and rocks and other materials, are charging us an extra fuel fee. We’re also charging an extra fee, but only if we have to travel a long distance to the job site."

Moving companies, particularly smaller firms, are fighting the price rise like All Purpose Moving, 14402 N. Fifth Place, Phoenix.

"We’re a small moving company, so we’ve got to carry the cost of rising gasoline prices," said manager Cheryl Killman. "The bigger companies can absorb the costs, but we can’t raise our prices or we’ll lose business. We’re stuck."

"Our operating costs since the gas price increase have gone through the roof," said Eric Beyer, business manager for Goldwater Plumbing Service, 2501 W. Behrends Drive, Phoenix.

Are motorists looking for other, less expensive means of transportation such as — bicycles?

"We haven’t noticed any major shift from gasolinedriven vehicles to bicycles like we did 20 years ago — not yet," answered Bud Morrison, owner of Tempe Bicycle, 330 W. University Drive.

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