Diesel prices hit truckers hard

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

KALIHI (HawaiiNewsNow) - As logistics manager, Ryan Penaroza keeps track of Pineridge Farms Inc's fuel bill and its impact on the company's bottom line. So when he sees diesel prices on service station signs, his eyes drop.

"Diesel is on the bottom of the list and it's usually the highest price on the board," he said.

Last summer the trucking firm was spending $75,000 to $90,000 a month to put diesel in its seventy trucks that haul construction materials. Compared to this year that was a deal.

"I'd say right now we're spending between $125,000 and $150,000 a month on diesel," Penaroza said.

Hawaii truckers pay the highest rate in the nation for diesel and it's getting higher.

Gareth Sakakida of the Hawaii Transportation Association said diesel fuel accounts for twelve to fifteen percent of a trucking company's cost, and increases will get passed on.

"Their customers are the hotels, the grocery stores, retail outlets, Sears, Macy's, everybody. They deliver everywhere," he said.

In Pineridge's case higher diesel costs could eventually increase the cost of construction.

"Because of that our price might go up for the contractor. Then the contractor will probably pass that on to whoever is paying the bill for them," Penaroza said.

For the consumer the diesel bill truckers pay will trickle down to what you eat, what you wear, everything you buy for your home. Before you take it out of the store a truck has to get it there.

"The trucking industry has not gone to that increase yet. But I think we're just a step away," Sakakida said.

To curb waste Pineridge uses GPS to plot short routes and juggle deliveries so trucks don't go long distances if they don't have to, minimizing idling time.

"It's a lot of pressure to just monitor everything to make sure we're staying in the green and not in the red," Penaroza said.

The juggling act is fueled by the price of fuel.

Copyright Hawaii News Now 2011. All rights reserved.