Gas shortage pinches local businesses

Posted September 19, 2016 6:21 p.m. EDT
Updated September 19, 2016 6:44 p.m. EDT

— The ruptured gas pipeline in Alabama has created problems for businesses in the Triangle that do a lot of driving.

"At this point, we're taking emergency calls only," said Kelly Johnson, office manager for Carlton Heating and Air Conditioning in Raleigh.

Carlton's five vehicles roll across three counties, and Johnson said her crews will go to homes that need the air conditioning fixed quickly. But efficiency is key, she said, noting a technician working a job in Clayton won't be assigned jobs in west Durham.

"That's the type of business we're in. We have to drive, and we have to get to our customers, and we have to take care of our customers," she said.

"If we run out of gas or gas prices go up trying to get to gas, then it could start to affect our prices," she said. "At this point, our prices are staying the same, and it's not going to be reflected in our prices."

Great Blooms Florist is likewise sitting pretty – for now.

Owner Glenn Gray still has his drivers making some 20 deliveries apiece, totaling about 125 runs a day, in eight vans. He uses a gas station on South Saunders Street in Raleigh that assured him it was loaded up on unleaded.

"All my vans went out, filled up, and the vans will last possibly two days," Gray said. "After two days, it's kind of a guessing game where you'll go and get fuel."

If fuel costs continue to go up and stay up, Gray said customers could smell higher prices in their bouquets.

"Gas went up 25 cents a gallon in two days, so it does affect the cost of delivery," he said.

Several taxi companies said Monday that they haven't had problems filling up and were confident they won't run into any.

Meanwhile, fuel distributors in the area said they have been flooded with calls and emails from commercial customers. An official with Hopkins Oil Company says the firm's tankers are going to the coast to truck in gasoline, which increases fuel costs.