Investing in a Cleaner Oklahoma

Curtis Restaurant Supply Adds CNG Delivery Fleet

A growing number of businesses are transitioning their delivery vehicles to run on compressed natural gas (CNG) as a cost effective alternative to gasoline and diesel. More and more companies are attracted to the lower fuel costs of natural gas, in addition to the opportunity to reduce their vehicles’ carbon footprint. CNG typically retails for $1.40 or less per gasoline gallon equivalent, burns cleaner, and can significantly lower vehicle operating costs.

Tulsa-based company, Curtis Restaurant Supply, has a fleet of CNG-powered Isuzu box trucks which replaced its existing heavy duty delivery vehicles. Jay Gulick, Curtis Restaurant Supply owner, says, “It’s not a new concept for passenger and light work vehicles, but for delivery and heavy-duty vehicles, it is a very new concept.” The overall positive economics of converting to CNG enticed Gulick to make the switch from traditional delivery vehicles to CNG powered ones.

He says, “Right now, natural gas can be purchased for as little as one dollar per gasoline gallon equivalent, so if you are paying three dollars per gallon of gas, the fuel savings are substantial. The savings are even greater for diesel fuel, since diesel is much more expensive than regular gasoline.”

The company uses the CNG powered vehicles for its large cooking equipment and new project installation deliveries.

Gulick says there are no plans to convert their smaller delivery vehicles and company cars. The cost of conversion vs. the lifetime cost of the vehicle, along with the lost amount of usable storage space the CNG tank requires, makes it a less attractive solution.

“I prefer an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) conversion. If you take your regular vehicle to be fitted with an aftermarket kit, it can void the manufacturer’s warranty. My strategy is to purchase new CNG vehicles from the manufacturer,” he says.

Gulick has been interested in energy conservation for a number of years. In the past five years, he has replaced all the windows in the office with double-pane windows and converted all fluorescent light fixtures to electronic ballasts. The company has a recycling system for trash, in which its service provider recycles virtually all the refuse generated, and have replaced Styrofoam cups with ceramic coffee mugs.

Investing in a clean fuel delivery fleet took a great deal of time and research before implementation.

Gulick looked at other types of clean energy solutions, such as wind power to generate electricity for their facility, but chose the CNG vehicle fuel option as the best immediate economic fit for the company. He says the process took over a year, from expressing interest and educating himself on the requirements, to ordering the vehicles and putting them into service.

He says, “In September of 2012, key employees attended the first CNG Summit at the OU-Tulsa Schusterman Learning Center. The keynote speaker was Governor Mary Fallin. She addressed Oklahoma’s commitment and the importance of the natural gas industry to the state. The seminars were presented by economists discussing the natural gas industry, as well as valuable information provided by clean vehicle educators, manufacturers, and suppliers. It was very informative and got me further interested in CNG.”

The onsite CNG fueling station saves time and money The onsite CNG fueling station saves time and money Oklahoma is a national leader in promoting CNG technology, equipment manufacturing, and clean vehicle legislation. As a locally owned and operated business, this played a large part in his decision to move toward CNG energy.

“The State of Oklahoma, from a tax perspective, has made it very favorable to invest in CNG vehicles and onsite CNG fueling stations. As a company that employs Oklahomans and subcontracts to other Oklahoma-based companies, we are proud to support Oklahoma-made energy that creates Oklahoma jobs,” he says.

The company has three CNG fueling stations at its facility. The lower cost of fuel was a factor, but another consideration was convenience. Having an onsite fueling station allows the company to fill the trucks overnight and be ready for service in the morning, rather than taking the trucks to a third-party fueling station.

Many companies making the switch to CNG have a fleet of 50 or more vehicles, but Gulick says it can be a cost-effective solution for small to mid-sized businesses like Curtis Restaurant Supply. He estimates the return on investment for the complete project will take less than two years. He encourages business owners to look carefully at tax credits, both federal and state, as well as potential rebates from natural gas service companies.

He says, “If the economics work out like they have for us, it may be a good investment for them.”

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Media Inquiries Jay Gulick - Owner, Curtis Restaurant Supply