By KEVIN CHIRI
Slidell news bureau
PEARL RIVER – Two oil and gas men in the little town of Pearl River are proving that there are still plenty of “David vs. Goliath” success stories to be told.
Keith Fogg and Doug Heitmeier saw an opportunity to fill a void in the St. Tammany Parish market to provide local deliveries of oil and fuels to contractors, government agencies and any business that needs oil, diesel fuel or gasoline on a regular basis.
Since starting the business in 2001—Purchasing Incentives, LLC—they have grown to now handle several hundred clients with great service that includes same day deliveries to any business that needs it.
They handle extremely large clients like Racetrac with three fuel deliveries every day, and handle clients that need weekly service with much smaller deliveries.
As they continue growing in St. Tammany Parish and into southeast Louisiana and southern Mississippi, the men are proving that they can compete with big, national companies.
“We are definitely a David vs. Goliath story,” Heitmeier said. “This is a very competitive business with low margins, but we are handling numerous clients and it’s because we offer value added services, great prices to go with very efficient deliveries.”
Heitmeier said many of the larger companies don’t offer same day service. They have been told from business owners that their previous supplier would make them wait for the weekly oil delivery route. That’s one place they have an edge.
Fogg, who has been a lifelong Slidellian and the son of former local insurance agency owner Floyd Fogg, said it is their smaller operation and service that allows them to offer lower prices.
“Anyone who has a business with equipment that needs oil and fuels should give us a call for a quote,” he said. “We can supply them all.”
Fogg is a 1976 graduate of Slidell High who worked in the Fogg Insurance Agency for eight years before owning his own agency for 10 years. After selling his agency he got connected to the chemical business as a salesman, but he kept getting asked if he could provide oil and gas products to his chemical clients.
Heitmeier, originally from Minneapolis, graduated from Texas Tech with a marketing degree and found he had talent in sales, leading him to work with an oil service company before spending 20 years with the DHL delivery company. He and Fogg became friends in St. Tammany Parish after he moved here in 1984 and later began talking about going into business together since they both had sales experience.
“I kept my full-time job at DHL so we were able to get a loan from a bank,” Heitmeier said. “Then as we initially began selling chemicals we saw an opening here to also sell oil and fuels. We barely kept doing the chemicals for a year before moving into oil and fuels.”
Fogg said they received great support and mentoring in the field from nationally known oil and fuel distributor from Gretna named John W. Stone, owner of Stone Oil Distributors, LLC. He is the number one fuel and oil distributor with Exxon in the nation.
Stone advised Fogg to purchase one small tanker truck to start, known as a Bobtail. Fogg remembers jumping into the bobtail truck to make deliveries of his products to his customers. This was before he got stopped one day in a Louisiana State Police highway check.
“They asked for my CDL license and my license for my endorsement for transporting hazardous-materials and my tanker endorsements. Turned out you can’t just drive a tanker truck,” he said with a laugh. “So we got all the licenses and the business started growing quickly with me making runs to Jackson, Miss. every night to get oil products.”
Fogg would pick up five gallon pails and 55-gallon drums on one day, head out to sell all the products and be back the next day to do it again.
Now the company has several hundred clients, including government agencies, commercial and industrial businesses, and dozens of small contractors who own trucks, dozers and heavy equipment.
“The small and large contractors are our best customers,” Heitmeier said. “They need plenty of fuel and oil products and we provide free fuel and oil tanks as long as they purchase their fuel and oil from our company.
“We have monitors on the top of our fuel tanks that allow us to gauge fuel levels and order accordingly so our customers can focus on their business,” he added.”Our state of the art computerized fueling equipment allows large contractors to fill up 24 hours per day and we provide a weekly printout of what driver and vehicle pulled the fuel.”
Fogg said they introduced Boh Brothers Construction Company to their Petrovend Fueling System that gave Boh all the fuel data they needed by project. As big as Boh Brothers is they never had a computerized fueling system until Purchasing Incentives came along, he said.
Heitmeier said one of the biggest challenges to get in the business and remain competitive is to stay up with many changing regulations in order to haul hazardous products.
“Our insurance is $11,000 a month before we make one delivery,” Fogg added. Both businessmen are hopeful that the new presidency with Donald Trump will bring about a reduction in some of those regulations.
Another challenge for Purchasing Incentives is that it’s “a capital intensive business,” said Heitmeier, noting the tanker trucks they need, the many records that must be kept, and the on-site fuel tanks they have for themselves and their clients.
Fogg said “when we started we kept 275 gallon tote tanks filled with different oil products on the tennis court in my backyard.”
That was before local businessman Toby Lowe, whose company is located in Pearl River, offered them a spot on his property to lease so he could put a pair of 20,000 gallon fuel tanks there to become their first big client.
“That was 15 years ago and we’re still here,” Heitmeier said. “It’s a business I sometimes wonder how we got into. We didn’t have daddy’s money or a big inheritance. We built this business from one delivery on up.”
The men said their number one selling point is to have fuel or oil to a client the day they call.
“We have never missed any deliveries since we have been in business and no matter how small or large, every delivery is very important to us,” he added.
The company sells oils in quarts, gallons, 5-gallons, 55-gallons and bulk. In addition, they sell antifreeze, grease, DEF fluid and fuel pumps and supplies. They represent most major oil companies and have their own private label brand oil products for a more competitive product in pricing for our customers.
The business radius of coverage is Denham Springs, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Slidell, Pearl River, Covington, Bogalusa, West Bank, Gretna and Houma Louisiana. They deliver in Picayune, Poplarville, Kiln, Hattiesburg, Bay St. Louis Gulfport and Biloxi. Miss.
Call Fogg or Heitmeier at 985-863-7844 for pricing or delivery information.