AUSTINTOWN, Ohio – Pilot Travel Center celebrated renovations and improvements to the Route 46 center near Interstate 80 on Monday. But truckers and motorists stopping to refuel were in no mood to to party.
The Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber held a ribbon cutting at the Travel Center, where improvements included renovations to the building itself and an expanded kitchen to allow for more menu offerings including chicken wings, pizza and salads.
“We’ve done quite a bit of renovations to the building itself,” said Grant Becker, general manager of Pilot’s North Lima Travel Center, who was on site because the Austintown GM was unavailable.
As part of the event, Pilot donated $10,000 to the Austintown School District to support science and technology initiatives.
The visitors are “very happy” with the changes,” Becker said.
But that day, no one at the truck stop was happy with the price of fuel. Regular unleaded was $4,099 per gallon and diesel $5,359 per gallon.
Many truckers said they did not have time to be interviewed. Those who did were drivers for specific companies, not owner-operators. So it was their employers who paid the fuel bills, not them.
Toronto’s Rick Wolf, a driver for Jaro Transportation Services, said he had his own trucks but gave them up when diesel hit $4 a gallon.
“Now what is $5.35? That’s crazy,” he said. He predicted that it would eventually drive up freight rates. ascend.”
John Culco of New Jersey is another former owner-operator who now works for a company, Vintage Food Corp.
“When I was an owner-operator, I felt that pain,” he said.
According to Culco, there is pressure on drivers to be efficient due to higher fuel costs.
Alvin Cunningham of Columbus, company driver for Paper Transport Inc. in Green Bay, Wis., explained how gas prices affect his family – “taking food out of my kids’ mouths, taking money to all my household in every way”.
To combat the impact, Cunningham said he and his wife buy the items they need in bulk from places like Costco and Sam’s Club, and plan errands to be as efficient as possible.
“When we want to go out or go somewhere, we make sure everyone in the household has their agenda lined up so we can all do it at the same time and get home,” he said.
Rising fuel prices led Eddie Irizarry of Puerto Rico, a trucker for Zidian Logistics Services Inc. at Boardman, to request a limit increase on his company credit card. The limit – $1,000 – was not high enough to cover the cost of fuel and other necessities.
Irizarry said he looks forward to one day owning his own business. “When I see the price go up like this, it makes me want to guess,” he said.
Filling his pickup truck with diesel, Salem sales rep Kyle Hallas said his truck hit 18 miles per gallon and the price of fuel made him think about buying a more economical vehicle.
“It could be profitable,” he said.
So far, the increase in fuel prices is not affecting sales of other items at pilot stations, said Becker, the pilot’s manager. Truckers are responding to rising costs by finding more work, he noted.
“They’re looking for different jobs and things like that,” he said. “They just don’t know how long they can bear the costs.”
As to whether they should absorb the economic pain to support Ukraine, truckers were sensitive to the plight of people there. But they had their own concerns.
“I have to live too,” Cunningham said.
“People are suffering in all parts of the world. Africa is a big country where they are suffering,” he continued. As people fear traveling to Ukraine and bringing refugees back to the United States, people are being turned away at the Mexican border.
Irizarry said his parents taught him to help people when he could. “This way we can make the world a better place,” he said.
Others saw little connection between high gas prices and the situation in Ukraine.
Wolf acknowledged that the United States does not buy as much oil from Russia and said the country has become energy independent under President Trump. “I don’t understand why the problem in Ukraine is affecting prices,” he said.
“I don’t know if it has anything to do with Ukraine,” Hallas said skeptically. He highlighted how lumber prices soared during the COVID-19 pandemic and predicted that they would not return to pre-pandemic levels.
“I think there’s a lot of inflation in general,” he said. “And I think there’s a lot more greed out there, and everybody just uses [the invasion] as an apology. »
Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.