Sapp Bros.’ first location opened on June 7, 1971, in Omaha, Neb. Today there are 16 travel centers located in eight states. From the beginning, the company has always embraced new ideas and technology that would improve its offerings and better meet its customers’ needs. With this focus in mind, this year they added natural gas to one location in Lincoln, Neb., and are working on installing the second in Columbus, Neb. They are contemplating adding two more this year.
To add the new amenity, they partnered with Stirk Compressed Natural Gas. Stirk Compressed Natural Gas provided the capital for the equipment and Sapp Bros. provides the space, runs the logistics and receives a throughput. Mike Hoelscher, managing member of Stirk CNG, said, “Our strategy is to continue to build out the compressed natural gas infrastructure, with a focus on large truck access in major transportation corridors. We partnered with Sapp Bros. because they have a strong name in the trucking industry.”
Class 8 fleets in the grain and feed transportation industry will initially use the locations. For the Lincoln, Neb., location, they also partnered with United Farmers Cooperative, and in Columbus, Neb., they partnered with Frontier Cooperative. Jeff Ingalls, Frontier Cooperative's energy department manager, said, "Frontier is very excited about this opportunity. We are looking forward to partnering with a CNG pumping station."
Stirk Compressed Natural Gas calls on fleets and they do it very well according to Sapp Bros. President Don Quinn.
From start to finish, it took about three to four months to add natural gas. The physical build out took about three weeks. “It didn’t take too long. For the installation at our Lincoln, Neb., location, we did need to add another diesel island,” said Quinn.
The new island includes a pump that provides natural gas and a pump that dispenses diesel and diesel exhaust fluid. Operators need to research their current POS system and its ability to integrate with the CNG dispenser, Quinn said.
“We were blessed because we had a great contractor,” he shared.
He also said other operators need to know that you need to have a certain supply of natural gas, which is at a certain pressure, nearby. “The public utilities in your area will probably step up to bring the natural gas to your facility,” he added. He also encouraged operators to research if there are grant moneys within their state.
When asked about his initial thoughts on the investment, Quinn told Stop Watch, “We feel good with what we’ve done.”
Sapp Bros. was careful to plan for the future, and the company can grow its natural gas offerings if demand increases. “The one thing that I didn’t want was to enter into an agreement that restricted us in the future should the industry convert to natural gas,” he said.
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Photo Credit: c/o Sapp Bros.
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