Southfuels takes off, room for growth

Southfuels Otago territory manager Ross Moody (left) and sales and marketing general manager Greg...
Southfuels Otago territory manager Ross Moody (left) and sales and marketing general manager Greg Cassidy stand by its Waikouaiti fuel stop. Photo by Sally Rae.
Bulk fuel and lubricant distributor Southfuels attributes ''unprecedented growth'' over the past three years to both its staff and its strong focus on communities.

Southfuels is a New Zealand-owned and operated bulk fuel and lubricant distributor, established in 2006 following the purchase of Shell's on-farm fuel business.

The company has strong southern links with Peter Carnahan and Joe O'Connell, of Invercargill, and Mike Davies, of Queenstown, among the directors.

Northern counterpart Northfuels operates in the North Island and the businesses employed 52 staff between the two islands,

while 23 fuel tankers covered the length of the country, sales and marketing general manager Greg Cassidy said.

The company's main focus was to provide fuel solutions for the primary sector and business was going ''fantastically''. Three years ago, there were six sales people on the road and now 13 were employed, Mr Cassidy said.

Having only been in business for just over six years, the company's market share was still quite small and there was ''massive'' room for growth.

Providing fuel for the Waikouaiti community, and motorists passing through that town on State Highway 1, had proven to be ''quite unique'' for the company, as it was not part of its core business, nor part of its ongoing strategy, he said.

In August 2010, a truck crashed into the then Shell station in Waikouaiti, damaging its canopy. Its owners Greenstone Energy closed the station, citing the damage and unprofitability, and the community was upset.

Southfuels stepped in and leased the forecourt, meaning fuel was available 24-hours a day on the unmanned site, using a card-payment system.

While it was ''probably one of a kind'' for the business, the state highway location was quite an attraction to provide brand profile and it also fitted in with the company's values of keeping rural communities alive.

Southfuels leased the fuel tanks off Greenstone Energy for two years before having to make the decision whether it wanted to continue to provide the service.

''Really good'' support from the community over the past couple of years cemented the investment, which would total about $250,000.

''We're here for the long-term,'' Mr Cassidy said.

The company, which had re-channelled its marketing spend into community-based activities, was sponsoring local Eastern sports clubs.

It was recently signed as naming sponsor for the Tough Enough To Wear Pink Waikouaiti rodeo on February 3. More than $24,000 has been raised for the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation at the event over the past three years.

Southfuels Otago territory manager Ross Moody described the community spirit in the Waikouaiti area as ''justunbelievable''.

Southfuels and Northfuels also developed the Fuel for Schools programme, as a way of supporting rural communities.

More than $120,000 has been raised throughout New Zealand over the past two years.


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