Road Warrior Newsletter

August 20, 2010


Dear NJGCA Member:

On Monday, April 3, 1978 at 6:00am, as a 20 year old kid, I put the key into the front door of my Exxon service station for the very first time --- and my world hasn’t been the same since!

I had no clue what I was getting myself into, but I learned quickly about competition and how slim the profit margins are in the gasoline business.   The first task after unlocking the door was to lower the price of unleaded from 61.9 cents to 59.9 cents, in order to meet the competition around me.

It is now 32 years later and the first impressions of that day linger with me still.  I can remember agonizing over how much I was working and how little I was making.  I can also recall the stress of trying to juggle all those costly expenses while attempting to balance my books.  For those reasons, not a day goes by that I haven’t felt the pain of others saddled in the same situation.  And let me tell you, it’s still debilitating and painful for me as I hear from many of you stuck in the same situation.

After all, I was a small business owner who had to learn the hard way.  In fact, I’m not too proud to say there were more times I was taking money out of the bank to keep the place afloat than putting money into the bank to pay myself.  Eventually after 23 years I closed the doors and went out of business.

Often in business (and in life) perception becomes reality.  For good or ill, the public perceives your worth as a business owner linked directly with the sign you have hanging out on the street.  The way customers react to your price is the same way they look at every other product and service.  And if you were in their shoes, wouldn’t you do the same?  What do you do when you buy a product?  It is human nature to seek the lowest price!

Have you gone to buy a car recently?  The average transaction price on a new car today is somewhere around $25,000, yet most dealers make only $500 per vehicle sold. 

What about buying home appliances?  You may go to a big-box appliance store and buy a $1,200 washer/dryer set, but the store only makes $50.00 to $100.00 per sale. 

In both instances, the competition out there is driving down profit margins so low that many businesses will lose money on a product only to try and stay afloat on servicing them after the sale, or selling allied products with higher profit margins.

And this is the world in which you operate.  This plain truth doesn’t lessen the agony you experience daily, but it’s the cold hard truth of the reality in which your business runs.

With all of this in mind, the marketplace should have created at least 5¢ better margin for you over the last few weeks. What’s more, this environment should last for about a month more and allow you reap additional profit.  Why?  Because overall the market has remained relatively stable.  You and I follow wholesale prices, and since January, things have been relatively consistent.  When prices go up, it’s because the profit takers at the rack have tried to increase their own margins – even if the demand has not increased.  Each time prices rises without the actual demand increasing, a rollback follows and usually you can grab a bit of extra margin as the rack prices decline.   That is until some moron runs out to lower his price and try to grab extra market share.  I say “moron” because obviously these idiots have no idea how to use a calculator or do simple math.
Ultimately, competition will always drive down prices.  But it’s not worth being cutthroat and racing to the bottom.  Talk to your accountant or your bookkeeper and they will all say the same thing: The race to the bottom is a race that you don’t want to win!

Okay, enough of that; I am going to switch gears a bit and talk about a profit-eating-problem you are all plagued with: runaway healthcare costs!
I’m incredibly proud of my time as a small business owner, and even more proud to lead this association.  However, I often find it frustrating when I speak to members who complain about barely skating by, but aren’t taking advantage of the services and benefits we have to offer.

As an NJGCA Member, you have the opportunity – nay, the RIGHT – to take advantage of our 35 year-partnership with Association Master Trust (AMT).  Unlike other healthcare insurers, AMT is a non-profit Healthcare Trust that is operated very frugally, ensuring that your premiums remain lower than other insurance carriers.

Those of you who already participate in the program know that AMT rates are going up 9% this year.  While some of you have called to complain over this increase, those of you who have done your homework will know that competitor rates are rising between 20%-25% this year alone!

That means that while you may be paying more this year, you are still paying FAR LESS than other businesses are paying! 

Yeah, you could go to a carrier down the road, and they will promise you that they can save you money, but read the small print!!  Often these providers will give you a lower quote, but cut your coverage and benefits in the process.  If you then match up their lesser benefits with a similar plan from AMT, you will save even more money.  Members have been doing that for a year.

DO NOT BE FOOLED!!  When you compare apples to apples, I guarantee you, that you will save money by exploiting our partnership with AMT!!

Consider the following:

1). AMT is subject to New Jersey state laws and only a member of one of the 13 separate organizations which comprise AMT can take advantage of these benefits.  NJGCA is one of the 13 associations that comprise AMT.

21). New Jersey State Law requires that EVERY AMT Board of Trustee is also a plan holder themselves.  That means that these individuals can’t raise premiums or expenses without raising their own coverage.  Why would they raise them if not absolutely necessary?!

3). The management at AMT answers solely to the 13 organizations which make up the board – that’s it.  There are no stockholders, partial owners, or outside interests.  That means that AMT DOES NOT NEED TO MAKE A PROFIT to satisfy shareholders.  Technically the shareholders are the members of the 13 associations.  The would–be-profits are returned to the policyholders in the form of lower premiums.  That is why New Jersey Law requires that ONLY members can purchase Healthcare Coverage thru AMT.

BOTTOM LINE: If you are a Member and you are NOT taking advantage of AMT’s many healthcare plans, then you are passing up an extremely valuable benefit and not taking full advantage of your NJGCA membership.

So please call NJGCA Headquarters TODAY at 973-376-0066 to start saving money and helping your bottom line!

Thanks for reading and see you next week!

Sal Risalvato
Executive Director

 IN THIS WEEK'S NJGCA ROAD WARRIOR                                       

•Added All PIF and Diesel classes below!!

•Participate in the NJGCA PAC today and help us keep our Agenda rolling in Trenton!

•State unemployment rate rises in July
•Christie expected to sign offshore wind power legislation
•Scientists in Scotland create whisky-based bio-fuel
•NJ teachers get smallest raise in 30 years

 ON THE NJGCA HOMEPAGE                                                                 

Check out all of our MBPs and Programs designed to SAVE YOU MONEY!

Looking for something? Take a look at our list of useful links!

Find all our communications and search for old e-newsletters. Take a look!

Need to catch up on events? Want to see what's going on? Find out here!

 KNOW YOUR TERRITORY MANAGER!                                                   

Henry Darden: Territory Manager for Middlesex, Union, Part of Essex (Southern Half)
Cell: 973-477-0057

Jack Leli: Territory Manager for Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Ocean, Salem
Cell: 732-995-1637

Bob Quirk: Territory Manager for Bergen, Hudson, Part of Essex (Northern Half)
Cell: 201-214-8836

Frank Stewart: Territory Manager for Morris, Sussex, Warren, Hunterdon, Passaic
Cell: 973-234-7403

Don Stohrer: Territory Manager for Monmouth, Mercer, Somerset
Cell: 732-539-2955

Glacial Energy



New Jersey Gasoline C-Store Automotive Association (NJGCA) is offering an INITIAL ETEP Certification course. This is the entire program, section 1 – 7. This is everything you need to become a licensed Emission Repair Technician.

Our Course includes:
• New Jersey State Specific Information Course
• Section 7 “Light-Duty Diesel Vehicle Technologies and Testing”.
Everything to become an Emission Repair Technician!!

Springfield - Union County (EIGHT FULL-DAY CLASSES)
Class to be held at NJGCA Headquarters
66 Morris Ave.
Springfield, NJ 07081
September 16th – November 4th (Every Thursday for 8 weeks!)
8:00am to 4:00pm

• NJGCA Member rates: $1,495.00
• NON-Member rates: $1,695.00

PLEASE NOTE: We are always in the process of putting together additional classes. If you are interested in taking classes in this time period, please call NJGCA and let us know so we can add you to the list.

Call Debbie Hill to enroll in the classes at or call 973-376-0066.


Ensuring our friends in the legislature are re-elected and advocating for our agenda in Trenton are of utmost importance to the agenda of NJGCA.

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 the shoulders of a few.  This is not fair to them, and it is not fair to many of you who are relying on the benefits of good legislation being passed in Trenton.

To truly understand the importance of fundraising for our allies, let’s look back upon the overwhelming successes of the last year:

NJGCA successfully lobbied against BELOW COST SELLING. If approved, BELOW COST SELLING would have cost each of you thousands of dollars and put many of you out of businesses.  NJGCA leaned on some of our friends in the Assembly and literally had the bill pulled off the floor on the day it was scheduled to be voted on.  Our friends in the Legislature helped us get this accomplished.

NJGCA made history and led the charge to pass the most comprehensive protection of franchisees in decades with FIRST RIGHT OF REFUSAL legislation.  FIRST RIGHT OF REFUSAL passed only because NJGCA and dealers throughout the state were able to lean on several friends in the Assembly and the Senate.

NJGCA has been rallying support for RIGHT TO REPAIR over the last two years among key legislators.  This would end the practice of car manufacturers denying you the codes necessary to complete the repairs you make on your customers cars.  Every state has tried to pass RIGHT TO REPAIR and no state has even been able to get the legislation out of committee.   Because of our friends in the Legislature, NJGCA has been successful in getting this bill passed by the Assembly and now awaits a vote in the Senate.

I am asking some of you as individuals to make a contribution and attend a fundraising event sponsored by one of our friends in the Assembly.

However, we will not be able to host events for all of our friends, so the NJGCA PAC will have to make contributions.  You will be receiving letters soon from the NJGCA PAC asking you to make contributions. 

If every member contributes just $100.00 we will be able to provide the help necessary to ensure victory for our allies.

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.


State unemployment rate rises in July
New Jersey’s local economy shed over 21,000 jobs last month and unemployment rose to 9.7% in July.  However, despite the large volume, over 18,000 of the jobs lost were from the public sector, while 3,100 jobs were lost in the private sector.  The large public sector figure comes after state government eliminated a large number of public employment positions following this year’s budget crisis.

Christie expected to sign offshore wind power legislation
Energy industry observers anticipate that Governor Chris Christie will sign into law a new proposal to increase the number of electric-generating turbines off New Jersey’s coast. The measure will create a financial assistance program through the Board of Public Utilities to help support wind-electricity programs.  The state aims to have 1,100 megawatts of electricity coming from wind farms, while the state’s energy master plan calls for over 3,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2020.

Scientists in Scotland create whisky-based bio-fuel
Scottish scientists have created a bio-fuel that is made from the by-product of whisky distillation and hope to have the process patented. Proponents say the fuel is relatively inexpensive and could possibly be used to fuel ordinary vehicles with little adaptation.

NJ teachers get smallest raise in 30 years
With the state facing an incredible financial crisis, teacher union and local school authorities have agreed to their lowest pay increase in over 30 years.  While some districts agreed to pay-freeze, most districts locals would not agree to concessions and school boards were forced to layoff staff.  The average wage increase has now fallen from 4.68% in 2004 to 3.84% in 2010 – still above the 2009 rate of inflation.


Serving the small businesses that serve the motorist