January 27, 2012
Dear NJGCA Member:
Here's what you'll find in this edition of the NJGCA Road Warrior, and thank you for reading:
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S MESSAGE: GREETINGS & SAL-UTATIONS!
•Existence through attentiveness, Policy Patrol, and more!
NEWS AROUND THE STATE
•NJ tax climate hampers business community
•Natural gas prices a boon to NJ energy plan
•School boards embrace moving Board of Ed elections to November
•Motorists keeping their vehicles longer, vehicle age rises to highest level
•Let CROMPCO help you with all your testing needs!
•The latest THE RADAR SCREEN and BUFFALO CHIPS reports!
TRAINING CLASS SCHEDULE
•Interested in taking a class? Contact us today!
•Regency Property Appraisers: Serving all your appraisal needs in NJ, NY, and beyond!
MEET THE FOLKS AT LIBERTY GAS
•Looking for a new brand for your station? Take a look at the opportunity below!
MEMBER BENEFIT PARTNER MESSAGE
•TMP Energy Solutions: Another Way to Save On Your Energy Bills!
A SPECIAL MESSAGE FROM BELLOMO FUELS
•Serving New Jersey since 1910 -- Over 100 years of supplying gasoline retailers like YOU!
POLITICAL PARTICIPATON: THE NJGCA PAC
•Participate in the NJGCA PAC today and help us keep our Agenda rolling in Trenton!
THE MEMBER TOOL BOX
•On the NJGCA Homepage
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S MESSAGE: GREETINGS & SAL-UTATIONS!
EXISTENCE THROUGH ATTENTIVENESS, POLICY PATROL, AND MORE!
Today’s Road Warrior message is not what I anticipated writing only a few short hours ago. However, a chance phone call has compelled me to revise my message and what I wanted to relay to you this week.
Yesterday I got a phone call from a former member who was having an issue with his breakaways. As you know, state fire officials have begun to fine station owners for utilizing breakaways that are “past their expiration date”, handing out violations and collecting large fees. This is obviously an issue and has evolved into an ongoing saga that we are confronting head-on.
This morning, in following up on that conversation, I called this retailer at his shop to discuss the matter further. You see, the owner is an Exxon lessee and his location is being divested. Exxon sent a letter regarding the recent breakaway issue, stating that franchisees would be responsible for replacing post-dated breakaways, despite already signing off on them during a completed pre-sale inspection. Talk about fair, right?
During the course of our conversation, it became very clear that this retailer was NOT well informed on what’s going on and, sadly, he was already ‘defeated’. I use that term because I can’t think of any other that would suitably describe his attitude and outlook. It seems that after two decades in business, he wasn’t able to work out a financing arrangement with local lenders to purchase his location. Since the deadline for Exxon franchisee divestiture is Monday, time had run out for this station operator.
After I got off the phone, I reflected on the conversation. He sounded beaten up, tired, and was almost willingly walking toward the executioner and waiting for the guillotine to drop. This made me both depressed and angry at the same time.
I was depressed because, as a small business franchisee retailer for over 20 years, I know what he was feeling. There certainly were days when I got to my station and wondered what could go wrong next or when they’d come to shut me down. So I sympathized with him.
However it saddened me further because his situation is all too common today. Many retailers aren’t able to eek out a living and are being forced to close their doors, sell their locations to real estate investors, or just hand in their keys to their landlords. These poor souls are equally as ‘defeated’ -- thrilled to just walk away with the shirts on their backs and the tools in their trunks. That’s not fair!
Still, the conversation also made me angrier than I could have imagined because it didn’t have to come to this!
What many of you don’t know is that I have been in constant contact with the group of Exxon lessees who are being affected by this divestiture. No matter if they are members, non-members, or former-members, I have continually been reaching out to them to give them needed information and appropriate details. In doing this, I have even hosted a seminar workshop for them to fully understand how our Right of First Refusal law works in action and meet with distributors, vendors, and financial professionals to aid them in the transition.
Obviously, this retailer either did not understand what I was conveying, chose to ignore it, or merely didn’t take the time to investigate all that I was presenting him. At it’s most basic, this is just ANOTHER example of leading a horse to water, but being unable to force them to drink (no matter how hard I try).
When such inaction costs you your livelihood, can you understand why I’m upset? I hope so!
Many of you may ask, “Sal, if they’re not members, why go through the trouble of helping them at all?” and the answer is simple: SURVIVAL!
If you look at the big picture, you can see the end-game will come too quickly if you’re not paying attention! Thanks to government regulations, economic pressures, environmental rules and countless other forces, our industry has been under assault for the better part of 25 years. Every year stations close their doors forever and our numbers are shrinking. Yes, some of it is because of industry changing and some of it is because cars are just more efficient than ever, but it doesn’t change the fact that it has to stop! We never have been the most loved group of small business owners and we arguably never will. However, no matter how much they vilify us or hate us, we ARE essential to the economy, the motoring public, and the community.
That means we’re all in the same boat together and we’ll either survive collectively or die individually.
So what do we do? How do we avoid the fate of this poor ‘defeated’ man who’s about to lose the chance purchase his location to control his own destiny, but may soon lose his profession altogether when he’s forced to turn in his keys? You stay informed and you grab every lifeline available to weather the storm!
Though I tried in every which way to get help him, this retailer chose to ignore the assistance he had available and may now pay the ultimate price for his inattention and idleness. Was it worth it?
At NJGCA, we work hard to get you the information you need to run your business and warn you about danger on the horizon. We don’t do it because we have nothing else to do; we do it because that’s what you pay us for. To avoid facing the same fate as this retailer, read what we send, react when we sound the alarm, and get involved in every way possible to safeguard your business. If you don’t, no one will do it for you!
On January 10th, the members of the state Legislature were sworn in for another 2 year term. Every bill that was not signed by the Governor in the last term officially expired at noon on January 10th. However, at 12:01pm more than 3,000 bills were simultaneously introduced by the 120 members of the Assembly and Senate. We here at NJGCA have combed through every one of them for you to figure out which ones may affect your business.
These reintroduced bills ran the gamut from the good to the bad to the just plain ugly. And, like a good horror movie monster, several of the bills we killed last sessions have risen from the grave to threaten you again.
Here’s a quick taste of some of what we will be tracking for the next two year session.
Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer), a good friend of our organization reintroduced the “Motor Vehicle Owners’ Right to Repair Act” (A-352). You’ll remember NJGCA pushed hard for this legislation in 2009 and saw it pass the Assembly only to be withheld from a vote when it got to the Senate. Right to Repair would benefit every independent automotive shop in the state by ensuring that the car manufacturers provide the same technical info to repair shops that they give to the dealerships, and at a reasonable price. It still burns me that we were unable to get this passed in 2009, but we will be having a renewed push this year. Expect to hear a lot more about “Right to Repair” in the coming months.
The Internet lottery bill is back as well. A-1073, sponsored primarily by Assemblywoman Quijano (D-Union), and S-56 sponsored by Governor Codey in the Senate, would allow the State Lottery Commission to sell lottery tickets online, which means fewer customers walking into your c-stores.
There are several different bills which under the guise of environmentalism would add more burdens to your business. Some would have you practically convert your store into a recycling center for plastic bottles and plastic bags. S-675, “The Plastic and Paper Bag Reduction Act”, would require retailers to charge 10 cents for every carryout bag and then send Trenton all those dimes as well as a report detailing how many bags were used. And of course there’s also S-812, the “Reduce Plastic and Paper Bag Usage Act”, which has mostly the same provisions only with a 15 cent charge per bag.
Assemblywoman Watson Coleman (D-Mercer) has reintroduced her bill which would require all gas retailers to use motor fuel pumps that measure in temperature adjusted gallons. Needless for me to say, the last thing any gas retailer needs is to be forced to buy all new pumps to fix a problem that doesn’t really exist.
The mortal enemy of every gas retailer is back yet again. A-1567 from Assemblyman Wisniewski (D-Middlesex) would allow the sale of gasoline below cost. If the big chains are allowed to sell their gas below cost, it won’t be long until they’ve driven you out of business, and then use their new monopoly to jack prices back up. Senator Vitale is also slated to introduce S-1243, which would restrict your freedom to charge different prices for cash and credit on a gallon of gas by mandating that the credit price not be more than 4% higher than the cash price.
There are a variety of different bills which seek to encourage the greater usage of alternative energy vehicles. Some bills give tax credits and incentives to businesses which install electric charging stations, other bills mandate their construction at shopping malls and rest stops. I’ve been talking for a long time about how you need to get ahead of the curve when it comes to alternative energy, and legislative action like this is a big part of why.
You’ve probably heard by now that there is a push, despite a terrible economy, to increase the minimum wage to $8.50 an hour, and then mandate automatic increases based on the consumer price index.
Several bills have been introduced to crack down on the hiring of illegal immigrants, doing things such as requiring employers to use the E-Verify system before they hire an employee.
Tax policy has dozens of bills dedicated to it. Some want to lower overall rates, some want to increase taxes on incomes over a million dollars. There are a bunch of bills that would cut or eliminate the estate tax and even 2 bills which would lower the state sales tax. And of course there is a bill that would increase the gas tax, this specific bill would raise the gas tax 24 cents over 3 years and then mandate automatic price increases afterward.
With all the bills that have been introduced and will continue to be introduced nearly every week, we’ve decided to institute two new sections for this weekly email. The first section, THE RADAR SCREEN will deal with a specific bill that has been introduced and is something that we feel you should be aware of. The other section is BUFFALO CHIPS, dedicated to some of the stupid and/or unnecessary proposals that have been put forth by our representatives. Bear in mind that at a time of economic recession, high gas prices, insanely high property taxes, and massive debts and deficits, some people in our government think now is the time to introduce these bills.
Thanks for listening - See you next week!
NEWS AROUND THE STATE
NJ tax climate hampers business community
A new report by a non-partisan tax organization has issued a report ranking New Jersey last in tax climate. Officials in the Governor’s Office have stated that the report only underlines the need for income and further business tax cuts. You can read full details above.
Natural gas prices a boon to NJ energy plan
The low price of natural gas, combined with a mild winter, may mean natural gas will play a large role in the state’s energy strategy. Customers using natural gas to heat their homes will see a rebate as utility companies credit consumer accounts. The state’s energy master plan calls for the building of new natural gas fired power plants, converting fleet cars to natural gas, and updating the state’s natural gas pipeline. Read more at the link above.
School boards embrace moving Board of Ed elections to November
After being signed into law last week by Governor Christie, a new law permitting school board elections to be conducted in November has already been adopted by nearly 60 local school districts. The new law allows districts to move their elections to the November general election if they keep their budgets within the two percent property tax cap. If the cap is exceeded, only the specific items above two percent would face voter approval.
Motorists keeping their vehicles longer, vehicle age rises to highest level
A new study illustrates that American motorists are keeping their vehicles longer than ever, with the average vehicle age rising to 10.8 years old. The survey states that high fuel prices, improved vehicle quality, rising vehicle reliability, and a weak economy are all contributing factors. The rise in vehicle age gives automotive repair shops a new opportunity to serve the long-term maintenance needs of their patrons.
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES IN OUR “NEWS AROUND THE STATE” ARCHIVE
Each week we will attempt to bring you the good, the bad – and the utterly ugly – from Trenton. Sometimes even the most innocent ideas from the State House can spell trouble for your small business, so be on the look out for updates and information in this section!
THE RADAR SCREEN
A-354, sponsored by Assemblyman Gusciora, was originally introduced at the very end of last year. The bill would require that all lamps and lighting devices on a motor vehicle be kept in working order. Currently, the law only requires that a minimum number of lights be maintained. For example, the law requires that every car have two functioning brake lights, even if the car comes equipped with three or four lights. This bill requires that every light on the car be operational. Since the elimination of safety inspections, we have all seen how motorists are much less willing to have their car repaired. Now that there is no regular examination and they cannot be denied their necessary sticker, many motorists simply don’t care enough to keep their car maintained, and it’s costing to you business and making us all less safe.
It’s hard to pick just two bills to spotlight this week. Let’s start off with S-170, which “requires cemeteries to implement woodchuck management strategies”. Do we really need a 13 page law to cover this? Of course there’s also S-351, which “designates pine barrens tree frog as NJ state amphibian”. Now I think if we, as a state, have managed to make it this far without having a “state amphibian” (whatever the hell that means), then we can survive a bit longer, at least until our property taxes are lower. And to think, these are the people who we pay to govern us…
-ALL CLASSES WILL BE HELD AT NJGCA HEADQUARTERS-
66 Morris Avenue - Springfield, NJ 07081 (Union County)
PLEASE NOTE: FUTURE DATES WILL BE ADDED UPON REQUEST AND ACCORDING TO DEMAND. CONTACT DEBBIE at 973-376-0066 or DEBBIE@NJGCA.ORG TO LET HER KNOW YOU ARE INTERESTED IN TAKING A SPECIFIC CLASS. THIS WILL ALLOW US TO GAUGE YOUR NEEDS AND KEEP TRACK OF THOSE WISHING TO PARTICIPATE!!
MEMBER BENEFIT PARTNER MESSAGE
TMP Energy Solutions
Another Way to Save on Your Energy Bills
We have had a number of NJGCA members successfully reduce their rate per kWh signing up through our energy saving program. We know it’s difficult to collect 12 months worth of previous electric bills to get an “accurate” analysis when comparing a variable rate to a fixed rate, but we now have another option available.
This new solution is a power purchase option; the other program is still in full force and has saved members thousands of dollars. If you sign up for the power purchase option, you will be grouped with other NJGCA members until the minimum KW demand is acquired. By pooling the member’s usage together, you will be able to take advantage, as large energy users do, and receive a lower kWh rate.
Each member will receive their own contract. Each member is responsible to sign and return the agreement the day it is received in order to secure the price for their group.
Please do your due diligence, so when you receive the proposal and the agreement you will be able to make an intelligent decision.
If by chance, you still want us to assess you bills, to give you a price to compare, we will require12 months of your most recent utility bills.
There are no bills required, but we would still like to have one bill per meter on file to check account #’s, meter #’s service addresses and other pertinent information incase there is a problem.
The term of the agreement is for 12 months. During this term period, you will have price protection against any energy price increases along with a low fixed kWh rate.
If you are interested in becoming part of this power purchase option, please contact Phil Apruzzi at the NJGCA.
Remember when you sign up your energy through the NJGCA Energy Program, TMP makes a considerable donation to the NJGCA Scholarship Fund through their proceeds. This has no affect on your rate, and costs you nothing out of pocket.
We hope to help hundreds of NJGCA members reduce their utility costs by participating in this and our other cost reduction programs. Our purpose, in the endeavor, is to help NJGCA members lower their energy costs while supporting the NJGCA Scholarship Fund.
Contact Phil Apruzzi at 973-376-0066 or email Phil at email@example.com. Mention that you are interested in saving money on your energy bills. NJGCA & TMP Energy Solutions will handle all the rest.
POLITICAL PARTICIPATON: THE NJGCA PAC
DEFENDING OUR MEMBERS.
PROTECTING YOUR INTERESTS.
ANSWER THE CALL & CONTRIBUTE TODAY!!
Promoting our agenda in Trenton is of utmost importance to NJGCA and our members.
To truly understand the importance of supporting our allies, consider our successes in Trenton:
However, in order to truly affect the debate, we must ensure our friends in the Legislature are re-elected. It is for this reason that your Association has established the NJGCA PAC.
For too long, the weight of funding our Political Action Committee, the arm of the Association responsible for political donations, has rested upon a few. This is not only unfair to those few members who have shouldered this burden, but means we are not utilizing our full strength to affect the debate in Trenton.
We defeated BELOW COST SELLING
We made history in getting FIRST RIGHT OF REFUSAL signed into law!
We have built large support for RIGHT TO REPAIR and got it passed out of the Assembly
We defended your small business against the false accusations of Attorney General Anne Milgram
We gained wide support to move New Jersey to an all PIF Inspection System and close the CIF lanes
...and MUCH MORE!!
In each instance, we achieved these goals with the help of our friends in the Legislature!
If every member contributes just $100.00 we will be able to provide the help necessary to ensure victory for our allies.
PLEASE SEND YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS TO:
66 Morris Avenue
Springfield, NJ 07081
Please make your donation payable to NJGCA PAC
I understand that times are tough for all NJGCA members, but this is just as important as any battle we have fought in the past.
We have made great progress in Trenton. I hope that you will answer the call.
THE MEMBER TOOL BOX
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NEWS AROUND THE STATE ARCHIVE
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