Ethanol: Opportunity Knocks

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As I mentioned in the first poweretblog post following GIE+EXPO, ethanol was a hot topic at the event. We’ve got more coverage of ethanol issues that came up during GIE+EXPO in the December issue of PET, with comments from OPEI officials and a quick take on an ethanol technical session given by Stihl technical training coordinator Eddie Anderson during the show. Dan Ariens and Fred Whyte also mentioned ethanol issues during their Q-n-A session at The Dealer Experience.

But it was Anderson who truly drove the point home during his technical session that the brave new world of ethanol blended fuel and a renewable fuels marketplace demands a group of experts to help consumers through the transition as smoothly as possible—and no one is better positioned than lawn and garden power equipment dealers to take on that role and add value to their position in the marketplace.

Things like promoting fuel stabilizers since homeowners don’t use as much fuel and tend to store it longer. Things like asking customers to bring in their fuel containers for testing for the presence of ethanol and even water in fuel. Fuel system cleaning, carb tuning and cleanup—these are the little things that dealers can do that customers will never hear about in the box stores.

Look for more than a few dealers to offer “Ethanol Tuneups” or “New Fuel Service Specials” to ensure customers’ small engine products run smoothly as ethanol-blended gasoline is introduced into chain saw, trimmer and mower engines. “The kinds of things we used to do with fuel and fuel storage, we just can’t do anymore,” said Anderson during his technical presentation. “The fuel has changed, and we have to recognize that and act accordingly.”