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March 10, 2022
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 Inside this issue
  Executive Directors Message  







Last week's Road Warrior was a lot to digest, and was packed full of information. We try not to bombard you with too much at once, but sometimes it can't be helped. This week, our coverage isn't as broad, but we still have plenty to say. 

That's because we've been incessantly fighting on two fronts since our last installment. With no respite to speak of, we are simultaneously defending faultless Lukoil dealers from the continuing public and political onslaught; while relentlessly pressing ahead to make self-serve a reality with Legislators and the wider court of public opinion.

These two issues alone have been taking up almost all our attention and time.  


At this moment, the world is a little crazier than it was just a month ago.  Even as we ease out of COVID restrictions, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has affected everything. Unfortunately for our industry, retail fuel prices aren't the only thing impacting small business owners. As we reported last week, the Newark City Council passed a resolution that "strongly urges" the city's Business Administrator suspend the business licenses of any Lukoil dealer operating in the city. As of this writing, those stations are still operating, but continue to do so under threat of possible suspension and closure.

Though we believe that this action is unconstitutional and unfair, it has not stopped other municipalities from looking into similar resolutions. Bad ideas have a way of spreading, and we're working hard to make sure that Newark's folly does not expand to other towns. 

We dove into this at length last week. If the news cycle of the last seven days has underscored anything, it is that emotions are high as the conflict continues. People are angry and outraged. They want to do something. They want to take a stand, and this has led them to be reactive as they search for a way to "hurt" Russia for the crisis in Ukraine. 

I admit, NJGCA staff and members feel similarly, but we cannot let ourselves fall victim to such emotions. Rather, it is our responsibility to protect those affected small business dealers. They are an innocent party, whose only "crime" is to have a Russian company as a fuel distributor and property landlord. 

As they simultaneously face public boycotts and the threat of government action, it is our obligation to stand up for them. You may not like the brand or their affiliation with Russia, but no small business should be targeted and selected for extinction based on the whims of government and public perception, and that's exactly what the Newark City Council (and wider public boycott) has done. 

Every single member reading this message is, on some level, a shipmate in a similar boat. You've borrowed against your home or taken out loans. You've invested hundreds-of-thousands of dollars into your business. You have overhead, payroll, and expenses. And even as you fight to stay afloat, you are contractually obligated to an outside enterprise - Russian, American, or otherwise. Why should anyone have the right to put them (or you) out of business just for fulfilling your commitments?

We have contacted the governor's office, legislators, and municipal officials on the affected dealers' behalf.  We've done media interviews and written press releases to enlighten the public. You can read some of these communications by clicking HERE, HERE, and HERE

This struggle is far from over. We may ask you to take action against anyone motivated to hurt a fellow member, merely because the brand they sell is currently unfashionable.  

Stay tuned. 


Just as our fight to protect Lukoil dealers has been intensely challenging, our campaign to bring the choice of self-service to Garden State motorists has been extremely positive.

Yes, we've received plenty of negative comments from a portion of the motoring public. We anticipated that, and know that there is a deep-seated culture that will only be happy maintaining the status quo. However, we've also received tremendous positive feedback. There is a sizable contingent of motorists and consumers who genuinely want a choice at the pump. 

No matter the stance, we've taken every interaction as an opportunity to inform and educate the public. We're continually hammering home the point that full-service is not going away. We're merely giving patrons the option to pump, if they choose. And to be sure, there are members of the driving public who have plainly stated that they do not wish to pump their own gas; but will not deny that option to those who do.

Any policymaker, consumer, or opinionated-busybody that negatively reacts to our proposal is disingenuous and being utterly unfair to fellow motorists. Those who do not want to pump their own gas, and whose visceral reaction is to deny others the ability to pump if they so choose, are not only denying someone the right to quick and convenient self-service, but also robbing them of the chance to save money at the pump. No one should be able to exercise that kind of power over a consumer and motorist. This week, I made similar arguments on a Philadelphia morning show, and invite you to listen in by clicking HERE

To support this effort, and if you haven't done so already, please contact your Legislator and ask them to support you. Go to THIS LINK and let your voice be heard. Once you're done, feel free to share our FuelYourWayNJ link with friends, colleagues, customers, and family so they can express their support for self-serve, too. 

If anyone needs further convincing, I invite you to share my Op-Ed from NorthJersey.com (and others) that appeared last week: 

NJ drivers deserve choices at the gas pump (northjersey.com) 


Mark your calendars!

Over the next month NJGCA will co-host two webinars with FreeWire to discuss a new $4 million NJ DEP electric vehicle charging station grant program. Grants up to $200,000 per location are available, and will be selected through a competitive application process (that is, not fist come, first serve). 

Click HERE to read more about the grant program. Freewire can assist with the grant application as well.

Applications are open from Monday March 14, 2022 to Friday, May 13, 2022.

FreeWire is a valued Member Benefit Partner and a leader in this field. To help members navigate this process, we are hosting webinars on Friday, March 18th at 12:00pm and Friday, April 1 at 12:00pm to educate you on the program and the process. 

You can sign up for the March 18th webinar by clicking HERE. The April 1st registration will be provided soon.


In circling back on our discussion last week, and as an additional timely reminder, a bill signed into law by Governor Murphy in January takes effect on Saturday, March 19th. 

The new law requires any business that sells tobacco products to offer for sale some type of FDA-approved nicotine cessation product, such as nicotine gum or lozenges. Which type of product exactly, how much, and what price you charge are up to you. They must be stocked somewhere behind the register, near the tobacco products. You can read the full language of the new law HERE. The law also requires that each retailer hang a sign somewhere on the premises with certain information. We have made a model sign that meets the requirements of the bill that you can print and use. Make sure it is somewhere that customers can see it, you can download it HERE.


Even the most inattentive and absent-minded observer knows that the marketplace is currently in chaos. Rack prices skyrocket 42¢ in 5 days, then collapsed by 33¢ last night. The average price for diesel jumped 54¢ in a day and then dropped 93¢ last night (!). The President announced a ban on imports of Russian oil to the US and the price of oil winds up falling because of how dominated the market is by speculators who are basically just gambling on news events. 

The ongoing mess in Ukraine assures that there is no way to predict where this is going, or what is coming next. Despite this volatility, it is incredibly important that you mind your own actions and maintain your margins. This means you cannot wait for your competition to move, and must do what is best to keep your operations profitable. When your nearest competitors get their next deliveries, they have no choice but to acknowledge market/supplier conditions and price their product accordingly. You cannot conduct yourself any differently. 

The motoring public is expecting prices to rise as the crisis continues. Don't look over your shoulder, lose your resolve, and diminish your margins. It can only hurt you and put your establishment in danger.

While this is playing out, please do not forget to pay attention to your credit card fees. Remember, as the price rises, the percentage/cost per gallon is going to rise on each credit transaction. This will eat into your margin and leave you less profit than would have been realized if the price per gallon were lower. 

If this continues unabated, and if you haven't done so already, remember that implementing cash-credit pricing can be advantageous to your patrons and your bottom line.     

Be Well -  

Sal Risalvato
Executive Director




  Training Class Schedule  

All classes held at NJGCA HQ -- 4900 Route 33 West, Wall Township, NJ 07753


ASE Training Course - Reach Out Today!

Are you (or an employee) getting ready to take your A6, A8, or L1 in preparation to recertifying your Emission Repair Technician (ERT) credentials through the State's Emission Technician Education Program (ETEP)?  

We can help --- but we need to hear from you, first! 
NJGCA wants to hear from students interested in our ASE-prep training program, so we can gauge demand and schedule our next session series. 

As you know, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) has always maintained a "dual-track" system to allow technicians to earn their Emission Repair Technician (ERT) credentials through New Jersey's Emission Technician Education Program (ETEP). In doing so, technicians were allowed to certify as ERTs through either an ASE-test track or an ETEP-educational class track. Starting on January 1, 2020, NJDEP amended the ETEP criteria, and the ETEP-educational class track was abolished.  

Today, only the ASE-test track remains, and all ERTs must certify or re-certify their credentials though ASE to remain in the Program. 

NJGCA has recently offered an ASE-prep class to help you get ready for the A6, A8, and L1. In doing so, students were welcome to participate in a ten-session preparatory class that covered material for all three ASE exams. We also had a handful of students who joined us only for the A8 or L1 sections.  

Once completed, students took their ASE exams with a local ASE-approved test proctor (NJGCA can train you to prepare for the ASE exams, but are not permitted to offer the actual exam - students must make these arrangements individually themselves). 

Building on that success, we are now seeking student participation in our next training series session. To make arrangements and organize a session, we need to hear from you! 

If you are interested, please email us at training@njgca.org ASAP. 

We'll record your interest, inquire on your availability, and schedule a class once we have a full complement of students.   

Only with your feedback can we gauge student headcount and participation.  

Please reach out to us today, and thank you for your interest! 

Contact Nick De Palma at Nick@njgca.org to inquire about potential trainings and class dates



  News Around The State  


Booker, Malinowski Back Shut Down Of Lukoil Gas Stations In N.J. As Part Of Sanctions Against Russia

Economic sanctions against Russia for their invasion of Ukraine is already impacting small businesses in New Jersey, with the Newark City Council voting on Tuesday to suspend the business licenses of Lukoil gas stations in the state's largest city. But U.S. Senator Cory Booker and Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes) said that employees of the Lukoil gas stations in Newark and in more than 100 other locations across the state will be able to find new jobs. "This is the good news," Booker said.  "The demand for workers right now is really, really high.  People are desperate to hire folks." Malinowski said that the goal of sanctions is not to punish workers and that Lukoil might be among the few New Jersey businesses that might be effected. "We have plenty of gas stations.  There are franchise opportunities in this country that are not Lukoil," he said.  "I think the bigger implications for all of us for our economy have to do with energy prices."


Oil Markets Soared 20% This Week

Russia's attack on Ukraine has caused crude oil to rise more than 20% this week, commodities prices to surge and U.S. stock futures to decline. Gasoline prices continue to march higher, up 11 cents to $3.83 a gallon today, within reach of a record $4.11 a gallon set in 2008. Today's AAA average gasoline price topped $5 a gallon in California. April West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose $2.41, or 2.2%, to $110.09 a barrel. Yesterday, oil fell 2.7%, to end at $107.67 a barrel after trading at a session peak of $116.57, the highest since August 2008.


Gas prices hit $4 in N.J., now the highest since 2008

Gas prices hit their highest levels since 2008 Thursday and at some stations in New Jersey, the dreaded price of $4 a gallon for regular has already been reached. Thankfully, that is not the average price, but experts said $4 per gallon isn't far away due to factors ranging from the war in Ukraine to the seasonal switch from winter grade gasoline.


New Jersey's Ban On Pumping Your Own Gas May End

The law banning New Jersey motorists from pumping their own gas is as deeply ingrained in the Garden State as reverence for Bruce Springsteen and summers at the shore. Now the stubborn law, originally meant to guard drivers from handling flammable fuel, is facing off with its latest formidable foes: labor shortages and soaring gasoline prices. . . self-serve is now the norm at many supermarkets and other retail stores. "We survey consumers all the time. The number-one technology they want right now is self-checkout inside the store. So if they're looking for self-checkout inside the store," Risalvato said, "why wouldn't they get self checkout at the pump?"


Backlash against Russian-Branded Gas Stations Hits Americans

Outraged by the invasion of Ukraine, lawmakers in New Jersey's largest city lashed out at one of the closest symbols of Russia they could find - a pair of Lukoil gas stations. The Newark City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to ask the city's business administrator to suspend the service stations' operating licenses, citing Lukoil's base in Moscow. In doing so, however, they may have predominantly been hurting Americans. . . Sal Risalvato, executive director of New Jersey Gasoline, Convenience Store and Automotive Association, called the crackdown on the stations "nothing more than political theater." "All of the station owners condemn what Russia is doing in Ukraine, but do not deserve to lose their businesses and their investments because of Russia's bad behavior," Risalvato wrote in an email.


Consumers Back Ukraine as US Gas Prices Soar

The U.S. hopes to squeeze Russian President Vladimir Putin's pocketbook and end the horrific Russian attacks in Ukraine, where bombs devastated a maternity hospital in Mariupol Wednesday, burying children in rubble. Americans support Ukraine, but there's a cost. Tracy Noble of AAA says gas prices in New Jersey rose a nickel a gallon overnight and by 64 cents in the past week. Spiraling gas prices could convince commuters to carpool, or switch to mass transit, or delay returning to the office at all. Consumer pain will spread well past the pump. Any solutions are complicated, both politically and diplomatically.


Price of Gas, Self-Serve, And Lukoil: A Rundown (JEFF EDELSTEIN COLUMN)

Well, if you had "gas station stuff" as one of the most talked about topics in New Jersey as we head into spring, congratulations: You win a free gallon of gas, which, last I checked, is going for $4 trillion. But yes: Gas station stuff is all the rage right now, and it's a three-pronged affair. First up? The price of gasoline, which is going up every day, mostly due to Russia destabilizing the entire world by deciding to try and take over Ukraine ...



  Energy Information Agency Weekly Retail Gasoline Prices  

Each week, the Energy Information Administration publishes a list of average gasoline prices for the previous three weeks. NJGCA will begin including this list with the Weekly Road Warrior. Remember, these prices are reflective of self-serve everywhere except NJ.




  Member Benefit Partner Message Board  







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