April 6, 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!
•Happy Easter, Happy Passover; Cash/Credit Pricing Guidelines, Exxon Workshop Success
NEWS AROUND THE STATE
•Opinion: President should not tap Strategic Petroleum Reserve
•Thirty-two new charter school applications being considered
•New Jerseyans, Americans driving less
•America now number 1 in corporate taxes
TRAINING CLASS SCHEDULE
•Interested taking a class? Call us today!
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!
HAPPY EASTER, HAPPY PASSOVER
PROPER CASH/CREDIT PRICING GUIDELINES
The weekend is almost here, and the start of Passover and Easter. Certainly these holidays can be crazy, with lots of driving, visiting, and eating. But I hope you’ll be certain to take a break from your shops and truly enjoy the festivities with your family and friends.
On behalf of my staff, I wish you a Chag Pesach Sameach and a very blessed Easter this weekend!
A few weeks back, I gave you a bit of a warning on the public (and political) pressure that would be exerted on all retailers as the price of gasoline rises. That’s just the way it is; consumers are angry prices are high and politicians react to that angst.
At the time, I also said that public sensitivity would be especially susceptible to retailers implementing cash/credit pricing, and that hasn’t changed. In utilizing a cash/credit pricing system, both you and customer that choose to pay with cash are saving money – it’s a win-win all around. Yet, despite the truth of the situation, the heightened sense of suspicions in the current market is seeking to apply blame where none is warranted.
For that reason, if you implement cash/credit pricing, you must be particularly careful in how you operate your business!
While we know you’re offering the public a potential benefit, motorists are wary. If they pull into a location and feel they were remotely mislead due to how pump or street prices were displayed, it can cause a headache you don’t need. Yes, you could be 100% in the right, but it won’t prevent them from calling Consumer Affairs with a complaint and you’ll soon be paid a visit from our friends at Weights and Measures (W&M). And you can’t blame our friends at W&M for that; they are just doing their job and following up on a tip. The best way to avoid the situation altogether is by being extra vigilant!
You’ll recall that a number of years ago, Consumer Affairs, W&M, and NJGCA worked out a method by which you could display cash/credit prices. The point of that dialogue was to create uniformity for operators and give the motoring public appropriate notice of product prices. We all wanted to avoid a situation where a customer would patronize your location thinking they were paying the cash price, only to figure out that they were actually paying the credit price. That leads to unnecessary anger, a possible confrontation, and an unneeded visit from state officials.
You want to avoid that from happening! Remember, this is the approved sign methodology approved by W&M:
Gas Pump Sign
Furthermore, as a small business owner, you should also be on the look out. When you see a location that isn’t correctly displaying street signs you should immediately notify me! A member recently sent me this picture of a station improperly displaying cash/credit pricing – take a look:
Can you see what’s wrong? Did you spot it?
This retailer displayed their cash/credit pricing for REGULAR correctly, but improperly left their pricing for SUPREME on the street sign. In doing so, a casual observer may have thought that the $3.85 price was for mid-grade fuel, and on that assumption, pulled into the station to purchase mid-grade at that price. Instead, if this retailer wanted to implement cash credit pricing on a street sign that had only 3 spots, they should have put their price for Regular-Cash and Regular-Credit ONLY, and left the other grades of gasoline off altogether. Though that may seem counter-intuitive in making the public aware of your prices, it is the only way to prevent consumer confusion and inducing them to patronize your station based on “what price was listed in the middle” of the board alone. And when you think of it that way, it makes sense. After all, customers are trained to look at the slots on the board – not what’s necessarily written next to them.
My goal here is to have as few complaints submitted to W&M as possible – and by extension, the fewest number of complaints sent to legislators. The more complaints there are, the worse it will be for all of us. When legislators are continually hearing constituents complain about gas prices, it will only provoke a reaction. It was that kind of a situation that prompted Assemblyman Mainor to introduce a bill capping the difference you could charge between your cash/credit prices a few years back.
Let’s not have a repeat performance!
New regulations are coming that will affect all operators. The EPA will soon require operator training by August of this year. In doing so, they have left it up to the individual states to implement a training plan. I have already received phone calls from some members inquiring as to the specifics and asking what they need to do.
I have touched on this before, but honestly, I haven’t made a big deal about it since things are still very much in flux at the moment. The NJDEP is a year behind in submitting their plan to the EPA and, at this point, we’re still not sure exactly what they will require. We do, however, hope to have a clearer picture later this year.
I don’t expect this requirement to be enacted in NJ until 2013, or possibly 2014, since these details need to get ironed out. However, I will tell you that there will be three operator classifications for locations with underground storage tanks. Your pump attendants will be considered a Class C Operator and will require training – but don’t get overly excited about it. The training they will “formally” need to receive shouldn’t be all that different from the instruction and guidance you’ve already given them. What’s more, I wouldn’t expect it to be overly burdensome or go beyond what they typically do in a normal workday. In addition, we also know that there will be different classifications for owners and managers as well, but those are even further up in the air.
Once things are set in stone, it is my hope that NJGCA will be permitted to provide the necessary training you’ll require. We have a solid track-record in classroom instruction; if given the chance to expand our offerings into operator training, I don’t expect that to change.
Remember, this information is just to let you know what’s coming over the horizon – not to upset you or make you panic. This mandate will need to be implemented, but we’re still a long way off before that happens. In the meantime, we’ll keep you informed of any changes as they occur.
Bottom Line: Be aware, but don’t get scared!
On Tuesday, NJGCA hosted a NJDEP-UST meeting with the group of retailers who have just purchased (or are just about to purchase) their stations from Exxon. These are the same small business owners (and former Exxon lessee dealers) who were offered the opportunity to buy their locations thanks to our Right of First Refusal law. That process began nearly 4 years ago when I called a meeting in Edison, and just recently, the closings began last month and are expected to continue in the month ahead.
The purpose of this meeting was administrative and compliance in nature. While they were franchisees, Exxon took care of much of this for them in the past. However, as newly independent stations, they are now responsible for everything. Among those tasks is the registration of their USTs and vapor recovery systems, as well as properly maintaining testing records.
Failure to register could mean costly fines, something no newly independent business owner needs. So we called a meeting to literally put DEP officials (and their staff) in the same room as these Exxon retailers.
DEP came armed with information and forms, and after some instruction and information was conveyed to the participants, state officials sat with their laptops and helped dealers find the information on file with NJDEP in order to complete their new registrations. In doing so, DEP avoided an enormous administrative headache since so many stations were divested at once, and the retailers got the guidance they needed to make sure they complied with existing regulations.
Take a look at some of the shots below:
Executive Director Sal Risalvato addresses meeting attendees.
Newly independent Exxon retailers listen to the program get underway.
DEP officials, Jonathan Berg and Leonard Lipman, speak with station owners on the regulations they must comply with.
Exxon meeting participants watch a presentation by NJDEP.
Meeting attendees line up to speak with NJDEP officials one-on-one to get their UST registration and air/vapor paperwork information. Station owners were able to ask questions and get their concerns addressed in person.
The meeting was very successful and NJDEP did a fantastic job! What’s more, there was a great turn out. When the Exxon divestiture began, we estimate that about 236 dealers were offered their locations and approximately 195 of them submitted the required paperwork to buy their stations. Out of that 195, somewhere around 160 or so dealers took advantage of the opportunity. On Tuesday, we had over100 attendees – so well over half of the new, independent small business owners came out to take advantage of NJDEP’s availability to help them with their paperwork. That’s makes me incredibly pleased, and more importantly, the dealers were extremely appreciative of how it all went.
Nevertheless, we all know how cumbersome and confusing these regulations can be. Even among those who deal regularly with this stuff, it can be very frustrating and there’s no doubt many station owners will need further follow-up. As always NJGCA staffers stand ready to assist you; and if we don’t have the answers, we’ll help you find them!
At this time I would ask for a few Exxon station volunteers that have a suitable facility that can be used to host 10-15 dealers for a ‘Hands On’ seminar/demonstration given by NJDEP at your location. I have discussed holding a few of these geographically scattered throughout the region that was just divested by Exxon. Consider this seminar a refresher and follow-up to the workshop that was just held on Tuesday. Volunteer hosts should contact me.
In the Policy Patrol, on our Radar Screen this week I wanted to spotlight to you A1193/S-988/S-77 sponsored by Assemblywoman Linda Stender D-Union), Asw Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden), Asw Celeste Riley (D-Cumberland), Senator Kip Bateman (R-Somerset), and Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Middlesex). This bill would require retail stores in New Jersey, particularly large stores and any kind of franchise, to create an in-store recycling program for customers to return their plastic bags, who are then responsible for those bags to be transported and recycled. Stores must also keep track of all the recycling they are doing and maintain the records of it for 3 years. They would also have to sell reusable bags for customers to buy and use. All the plastic bags thereafter would need to have printed on them the words “PLEASE RETURN TO A PARTICIPATING STORE FOR RECYCLING”. This bill is reminiscent of two other bills in the Legislature we have told you about, the “Plastic and Paper Bag Reduction Act” and the “Reduce Plastic and Paper Bag Usage Act”, which would tax the use of every single bag. In addition to being on our Radar Screen this week, we’re also throwing these same proposals in the Manure Pile. Plastic bags are used so widely for a reason. They meet a demand and they do it in a very cheap way, that’s why billions are used every year. Trying to ban them or force customers to carry around special reusable bags that cost exponentially more than disposable bags simply is a plan that isn’t going to work, it’s just going to piss everyone off. There are much bigger problems in this state than what small businesses give their customers to take their products home in. All these bills would do is to involve the government even further in world of free enterprise. Small business owners don’t have the time to waste to worry about whether people are recycling! They’re trying to stay in business, keep up with all the other regulations, and make sure nobody’s stealing from them. Government should be trying to either help or just plain stay out of the way.
As a final thought, the New York Auto Show is opening this weekend at the Javits Center in Manhattan and will continues next week. Some of the prime debuts at this year’s show include hybrids, electric cars, and other fuel-sipping technologies. Don’t believe that the industry is changing, gasoline market volume will continue to decline, or electric cars aren’t for real? Then you have to take a trip to New York to see for yourself. Not only is this actually happening, the pace is accelerating as gas prices continue to remain high!
Thanks for listening – See you next week.
NEWS AROUND THE STATE
Opinion: President should not tap Strategic Petroleum Reserve
In a recent opinion piece, CNNMoney author Steve Hargreaves makes an argument against rumored plans that the White House would use the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to alleviate pain in the market. The author states that past SPR uses have offered only small, short lived pockets of relief and that the President is being pressured to open the Reserve before elections this fall. Furthermore, with tension rising again in the Middle East, and with Iran threatening to close the Straights of Hormuz, tapping SPR today may harm US resources if a real emergency were to arise. NJGCA Members will recall that Executive Director, Sal Risalvato, made similar observations in two editorial pieces that were penned in April and July last year. You can read them both by clicking HERE and HERE, respectively.
Thirty-two new charter school applications being considered
The New Jersey Department of Education will soon consider 32 new charter school applications. Among those seeking approval are institutions focused on science, performing arts, and even fashion. Many of the proposed school would be located in Newark, Jersey City, and Paterson.
New Jerseyans, Americans driving less
Motorists in America drove less in 2011 than they have since 1995. Though gas prices have played a role in this decline, experts claim that long-term shifts in our society are also factors, such as more residents using mass transit, younger individuals deciding to settle or relocate closer to urban areas, and a drop in overall vehicle ownership.
America now number 1 in corporate taxes
Earlier this week, on April 1st, America officially became the nation with the highest corporate taxes in the world. The new statistic comes as Japan dropped its corporate tax rate to 36.8 percent. American corporate tax rates are currently at 39.2 percent. Both Congress and the White House are proposing competing plans to drop corporate tax rates in hopes of garnering support for November’s elections. Supporters of a corporate tax cut cite a recent rate drop in England from 28 to 22 percent, which officials are believe will make the nation a more attractive investment locale.
-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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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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