With a little help from our friends and family

“I believe that everyone gets at least one great opportunity in their business life, and I hope that my partners and I have just taken ours,” Nick Goodwin of Standard Fuel Oils told Fuel Oil News editor, Jane Hughes. One of the newest entrants into fuel oil distribution, Standard Fuel Oils is based in Merseyside.

Twenty-eight year old Nick has oil in the blood. “My father, Mike Goodwin and Frank Hunter started Carlton Fuels. It was here that I chatted to customers, learnt about credit control and worked as a sales rep out on the road.” Together with Sab Hoctor, Nick ran Carlton’s Ellesmere Port depot until July 2006, when the company was acquired by GB Oils for 13.3 million euros.

Nick’s father bought Carlton’s Knowsley site back when GB Oils vacated it some 18 months later. Operating as the Goodwin Corporation, Mike and eldest son, Michael, offer bunkering facilities as part of the Keyfuels and UK Fuels networks, and supply gas oil and AdBlue. The company’s commercial garage now services Standard’s tankers.

Getting off the ground

Standard Fuel Oils has already found much work in the immediate area. “We’re also surrounded by agricultural land with a multitude of growers and farmers requiring gas oil. Liverpool’s docks are close by and there are several engineering companies in the Merseyside area,” added Nick. The company delivers south to Crewe, north to Preston and into North Wales. We also have an online presence with Fuel Tool, Which Oil Supplier and the FuelLine.

“Establishing a foothold in the domestic market will take a little longer,” says Nick. “Now our tankers are branded, our presence has been raised and we’re receiving more enquiries. We like the idea of delivering collectively to small groups.”

The company runs two second hand tankers, an 8 and a 6-wheeler, sourced through Trucklocator from dealers in Yorkshire and Surrey. “Maintaining these tankers is expensive but helped by our access to garage facilities. I’d love to buy a new tanker but at the moment, I’m happy with what we’ve got. We’ll look again in a year or so’s time.

 

Support

“Since going into business last October, we’ve had tremendous support. Initially, we had some doubts about the level of support we’d receive but we’re delighted to say this was unfounded. As a new entrant with no track record, it can be difficult to get credit so we were really pleased when so many suppliers showed faith in us. We would like to thank all our account managers at these suppliers, we’ve had such a lot of help over the past six months and it’s been most appreciated. We couldn’t have done this without them.”

 

An experienced team with oil in the blood

Standard Fuel Oils is managed by a small team with a great deal of experience. Alongside Nick and Michael are Sab Hoctor, Paul Musgrave and Des McNamara.

At just 22, Nick became national accounts manager for GB Oils, moving on acquisition to EMO Oil at Trafford Park, before spending five years at GB Oils’ Warrington headquarters.

Sab, son of Speed’s Terry Hoctor now resident in Spain, spent six years at Carlton before joining Cooke Fuels and Brogan Fuels. Better known as Diesel Des, Des has worked at Shell Direct, Carlton and Caldo Oils. “With over 20 years of experience, Des is ideal for a new start up such as Standard. Whilst we can make 40 or 50 telephone calls from the office, on the road you see the whites of peoples’ eyes and can build up relationships,” said Nick.

The newest member of the team is Paul, who joined County Oils in 2007 firstly in sales & marketing and latterly as business development manager.

“We’re four people with a lot of contacts in the industry,” explained Nick. “We’ve spread the word about our arrival through good old-fashioned driving around and knocking on doors. Our first order for 3000 litres of diesel came from a haulier who happens to be a neighbour.” Whilst Sab looks after general management, Paul and Des concentrate on sales. Nick’s focus is on supplies, regulations and financial matters. “In reality, everyone pitches in to do everything,” added Nick. The team is complemented by drivers Mick Davies and Greg Goodwin, Nick’s younger brother who is happy to help out on the road in the short term. “Greg’s long term future will be as part of the management team,” added Nick.

Cautious growth

Nick, who left GB Oils on 17th August last, has since then worked many a 15-hour day. “In the first couple of months, if we got two jobs a day we thought it was great. Customers who bought from us in our first six weeks continue to deal with us. We want to take things at a steady pace so even if we could fill more vehicles, we don’t want to grow too fast.”

Nick is still treading cautiously. “We draw out of Stanlow, buying only what we’ve sold. To minimise costs, the company designed its own website. “With a potential of a tanker drivers’ strike in the offing we’ve had additional people visit!”

 

A new challenge

Running his own company has always been at the back of Nick’s mind. “I had a great education at GB Oils where I ran a department of 12 people selling 600 million litres a year but I needed a new challenge. GB Oils’ Paul Vian and Paul Williams put a lot of trust and faith in me and I’ve got much to thank them for. Whilst I could easily have stayed, the opportunity to go it alone fell into place and I took up the challenge.

“We chose the name ‘Standard’ because it’s synonymous with oil,” said Nick. We’re a truly independent family business with a standard – offering a regular and loyal service. Service is most important in retaining customers – 9 out of 10 deliveries, are out today or next day.

“We’ve no grand design about the future; our aim is be a company that people can trust. In the first couple of years, we will sustain, make a profit, if we can, and look to diversify – we’ve just started selling lubes and will be offering fuel cards. We do want to grow and don’t want to be a seasonal business. But, at the moment, we’re happy with what we’ve got and we’ll think very carefully about opportunities before proceeding.

“I love the industry although there must be easier ways to make money…. That said, I love being in this business and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I just can’t see myself doing anything else.”

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