Diesel costs set to soak consumers

Businesses hit with more expenses for deliveries, equipment operation
By: Penne Usher Journal Staff Writer
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The price of diesel is up more than 30 percent from last year in the Auburn area, and those costs will eventually get passed to consumers. Robinson Sand and Gravel, on Highway 49 in Auburn, has been in business for decades. Increasing fuel costs mean an increase in expenses that, at this point, the company can absorb. We are running five trucks a day right now, Amber Ferreira, Robinson's office manager, said Friday. They don't get very good mileage. Right now we are just absorbing the costs. She said the company is reluctant to pass its rising costs of doing business on to consumers. We are trying to stimulate consumers, Ferreira said. We have added a small fuel surcharge for deliveries, but it doesn't even make up the costs. But is does help. Tom Stinebaugh works in sales and dispatch for Robinson's. He said the company purchases its fuel in bulk. The cost of the fuel keeps going up and up, Stinebaugh said. We can burn through 50 to 60 gallons just making a local delivery. Jeff Johnson owns his own roofing company, Jeff's Roofing, in Truckee. He was filling up his Dodge diesel pickup Friday morning at the Valero gas station on Bowman Road. He paid $4.19 a gallon to top off his 32-gallon tank. Johnson said the high cost of fuel hasn't yet affected him, but most likely will affect his customers. The cost is passed on to my customers, he said. We'll have to see if it affects business. Our season hasn't really started yet. At the Valero station diesel cost $4.15 a gallon for those paying with cash Friday. Dairy trucker Matt Day estimates that he burns through thousands of dollars in fuel a week. The company he works for picks up the cost of fuel for his refrigerated rig, but he had personal concerns about the ever-rising cost of diesel. This is already affecting us, Day said as he finished an early lunch outside Ikedas on Lincoln Way. The price of fuel affects everything we do and buy, he said. It's going to affect the bottom line. I don't know what it will take to stop the ever-increasing cost. In an effort to bring national attention to the rising cost of doing business, the American Trucking Association is urging the Bush Administration to act quickly to ensure that strategies are in place to ensure an affordable supply of oil for the nation's 3.5 million truck drivers and American consumers. The trucking industry is experiencing the highest prolonged fuel prices in history, according to the American Trucking Association's Web site. Truckers staged a protest April 1 around the nation stopping their big rigs along interstates. Even if the protests continue to spread and the truckers' demands are met, it's not clear whether it will have much effect on the price of diesel. Sean Comey, spokesman for AAA's Northern California area, said Friday that the average costs for a gallon of diesel statewide is $4.20. The company tracks primarily gasoline costs across the nation as a service to consumers. Diesel is more of a fuel of commerce but does affect in an indirect manner with a wide array of products and services, Comey said. Some have noticed that pain at the pump is equated to penny pinching at the grocery store. I've really had to watch what I buy, said Martha Stinton, as she loaded a cart full of groceries into her sedan Friday afternoon outside the SavMart grocery store in Auburn. I think we are simply going to see the price of everything go up. The Journal's Penne Usher can be reached at or post a comment at