OPINION: E15 & flex fuel? Ask someone who knows…

By Ron Lamberty, senior vice president, American Coalition for Ethanol | October 02, 2019

Based on input from retailers who stopped to see us at trade shows, emails and phone calls we received from marketers, and conversations we had with station owners we work with, ACE recently updated the flexfuelforward.com website to include more marketer “testimonials” and more in-depth information to answer questions retailers frequently ask about E15 and flex fuel.

Because people generally trust information they get from “A person like myself,” ACE’s approach to developing new markets has always been to help wholesalers and retailers add to, or expand their ethanol offerings, and then follow-up with those marketers so we can share their successes and challenges with other retailers who may be considering adding E15 or flex fuel.

It would be great to have successful ethanol marketers accompany us at every trade show or workshop we do, but that’s not physically possible (or remotely affordable!). Instead, a few years ago we created the flexfuelforward.com website, to give prospective higher-blend marketers 24/7 access to some of their peers who added E15 and flex fuels to the fuel slate at their stations and survived and even thrived by doing so. The flexfuelforward.com site was created as a “marketer to marketer” site, where station owners can go and read or watch short film clips from other station owners who have already done the things they are considering.

Earlier this year, we had a conversation with Mike Lorenz from Sheetz, and two single store owners - Bruce Vollan of Midway Service in South Dakota, and Charlie Good of the Good & Quick convenience store in Iowa. We talked to them about questions they’ve been receiving from other retailers and asked them some of the questions we’ve gotten from station owners and operators in recent months. Several videos from those conversations are up on the website, and more will be coming over the next year. The look of the site has also changed to emphasize current news including updates to rules or policy changes as they happen, answers to retailer questions, and easier access to our E15 &Flex Fuel Retailer Roadmap.

We could gather information from marketers and retailers and combine the information into studies or reports, but that would just be us trying to make ourselves sound smarter, and marketers will take that type of information from “ethanol people” with an entire block of salt. Instead, prospective E15 and flex fuel retailers can go to flexfuelforward.com and have their questions answered by people who do the same job and have some of the same consumer interactions they do.

Marketers visiting flexfuelforward.com told us it would be nice if they could get more detail on the site about some of the things they were looking for, and because we knew the info was there, we realized it wasn’t very easy to find. Flexfuelforward.com started out as a “landing page,” where marketers could find general information on higher ethanol blends and then link to other existing sites with more detailed information on the topic they were searching for. The links are still there, but retailers told us they like the information and approach of our E15 & Flex Fuel Retailer Roadmap, and with more in-depth video and testimonials from real-world ethanol retailers, prospective higher-blend marketers can now have more of their questions answered without leaving a site they trust.

We encourage you to visit the new-look of the flexfuelforward.com website and let us know what you think.