Lessons in Preparation

Mar. 26, 2014

Blue Ridge Biofuels has learned some valuable lessons about preparation this winter.  We know we aren’t the only business that has met some unexpected weather-related challenges this year, but in the future we’re hoping to avoid many of the issues we’ve experienced.  I have to express immense gratitude to all of our oil collection clients who have been patient and understanding as we’ve battled extreme cold, snow, and ice. This is in addition to dealing with the loss of our main collection truck to an accident caused by another vehicle, and going without our primary collection driver, Chip, who fell on the ice and was put out of work for over a month. While some of these issues were unavoidable, I believe there are measures we can take to decrease climate related issues in the future.

Our main oil collection truck was totaled in a wreck on I-26 in early February. Luckily no one was injured.

Our oil collection trucks are all diesel vehicles.  The first lesson I learned is that even diesel fuel will gel at 0°F, which means our trucks can’t get on the road to collect used cooking oil if it gets too cold. We lost several collection days to the severe cold. As hard as it is to say we can’t take care of our clients because it’s too cold, it wasn’t any easier when the precipitation started to build up. This is also my first hard winter with BRB and I wasn’t quite prepared for multiple periods of snowfall. Road conditions varied dramatically across our collection range after each snowfall. While some of our oil collection clients were accessible there were others our trucks couldn’t get into.

I assumed that if we couldn’t get out to our clients then their customers couldn’t get in to eat at their restaurants either. I failed to fully appreciate the ability of our clients to battle the elements and meet the needs of their customers who were drawn in despite the snow. In the future we will be sure to visit our harder-to-access oil collection clients prior to any forecasted weather barriers.

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I apologize to any of our amazing clients who may have been neglected this year due to weather we’ve never experienced. All things considered, I believe our team has done a commendable job. Our truck drivers Robert and Paul stepped up when we lost Chip and they’ve done a great job of responding as soon as possible to meet everyone’s needs.  Many thanks to the BRB team and all of our clients who strengthened my belief that I live in a great community of genuinely kind people!

-Alisha Goodman, Client Services Manager

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