Chief Petroleum

Family owned and managed, Chief Petroleum inspires loyalty in both its customers and employees by delivering on its promises with reliable quality fuel and lubricants delivered by experienced drivers. Colorado Springs-based Chief Petroleum hauls 8,500-gallon tankers of jet fuel or avgas throughout Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming, Utah and sometimes New Mexico. The company also provides direct fueling and lubricant products in Colorado Springs and areas east to Peyton and Ellicott, Colo., and some locations south to Pueblo, Colo.

Chief Petroleum’s half-century of reliability, quality and loyalty to its customers is a strong competitive advantage. That reputation is important when delivering a product like aviation fuel that must meet critical specifications. “You don’t want just anybody hauling jet fuel,” President Lisa Ziemer points out. “We’ve been doing it quite a while correctly and properly. We have a good reputation for that.”

Fuel Deliveries
One of the most important problems to avoid when delivering aviation fuel is product contamination, which if discovered can result in rejection of an entire tanker of fuel. To confirm the clarity of a shipment, a portion of it is drained into a white bucket for examination.

Contamination problems can result when the prior load of a tanker hauling jet fuel was hauling gasoline. “We have a dedicated avgas trailer we keep in Denver that never hauls anything but avgas, so it’s never diesel-dirty,” Ziemer maintains.

An estimated half of Chief Petroleum’s business is deliveries of diesel fuel in quantities from 250 to 300 gallons in bobtail trucks. Transporting fuel like avgas for hire is another 30 percent, lubricant sales are approximately 10 to 15 percent and wet hosings – directly fueling a truck fleet from a tanker truck before the fleet goes out in the morning – are nearly 10 percent.

Customers also can obtain fuel using five unattended card lock sites around Colorado Springs operated by Ziemer’s separate company, Chief PetroCard Corp. A special card from Chief PetroCard allows access to the fuel pumps at each card lock site.

Chief Petroleum buys futures contracts to ensure a stable price for the unbranded fuel it purchases. Its fleet includes four transport tankers and three leased ones, four bobtail trucks, a lube oil truck and a few trucks for delivering lubricants in drums, kegs or quarts. Maintenance of the vehicles is outsourced to specialists.

Driving Need
Ziemer lists the company’s biggest challenge as finding qualified drivers. “That’s probably been our biggest challenge of late,” she declares. “We typically don’t hire anybody unless they’ve had some experience hauling fuel. It’s not enough to say you can drive a bobtail or transport – we want somebody who has been hauling fuel and realizes the risk of contamination.” Delivering gasoline to a diesel tank creates a substantial mess to clean up, she points out. “We want somebody who has had experience doing this so errors are minimized.”

Transport drivers go on long hauls three to four times a week and have to put chains on their vehicles’ tires two or three times a day in the winter, Ziemer asserts. “I have the utmost respect for our drivers and what they have to go through,” she stresses.

Ziemer relies on customer service and loyalty to maintain the business. “We’ve built strong relationships with our customers – that’s the one thing I’m most proud of, the loyalty of our customers and employees,” she declares. “We just do the best job we can. We’re not delivering something they can’t get from someone else, so we make sure we do it fairly and competitively priced, and we give them the best service we can.”