Pacific Petroleum California Inc. sees tremendous growth opportunity for its transportation, rental and labor services in the bustling California oil fields. “I think it’s a good time to be in the oil industry,” Owner John Hochleutner says. “It is coming back in this state and a lot of new companies are starting up in the older fields.”
Hochleutner started in the oil industry as a vacuum truck driver and worked his way up the ranks to become a crude oil and diesel gasoline tank driver. He later took a supervisory position as a vacuum truck foreman for a vacuum truck company before becoming a partner at Pacific Petroleum in 1983. “The opportunity became available to me and I thought this was a chance to put my skills to use and expand and grow the company,” Hochleutner says.
Today, Hochleutner is the sole owner of Pacific Petroleum, which provides transportation, rental and labor services to oil and mining companies mainly in the central coast area, but will perform its work throughout the state. The company is a licensed contractor and hazardous waste transporter. “When our customers call Pacific Petroleum, we are there 24/7 to meet our customer’s needs,” Hochleutner adds.
Pacific Petroleum operates its full-service facility 24 hours a day and 365 days per year. “Our customers call us when they have a problem and they can’t schedule a problem,” Hochleutner explains. “They might have a pump break in the middle of the night and we are there to evacuate the line. We are a true 24-hours, 7 days-a-week service company; someone is always available to meet our customers’ needs.”
To be prepared for any job, the company keeps its inventory fully stocked. Its equipment includes vacuum trucks, transfers, end dumps, roll-off trucks, pneumatics, bottom dumps, hydro excavators, cranes and “A” frame trucks. Some of the company’s rental equipment includes generators, portable restrooms, emergency response trailers, storage containers, pumps, liquid storage tanks, air compressors, house trailers and light towers.
“We keep our warehouse stocked because a company can call us for any piece of equipment day or night,” Hochleutner says. “We make sure that when our customers ask us to provide services that we have the equipment to provide that service.” Maintaining a good rapport with local merchants helps Pacific Petroleum achieve this goal.
Although having the necessary equipment is a vital component of the business, hiring the right employees to operate it safely and efficiently is of utmost importance. Oil and mining companies are stringent about safety and compliance and will only hire a service company if it has a positive track record, Hochleutner explains. “Pacific Petroleum employees are HAZWOPER and MSHAW trained to meet the oil and mining company’s requirements,” he attests. “We have well-trained personnel and our safety record is impeccable, which makes us desirable. If you are unsafe, you won’t work. This is a good thing for the oil and mining industries, for our employees and for the communities around us.”
Hochleutner tells every employee that he wants to “see them come back the same way they came in – safe and whole.” A majority of Pacific Petroleum’s new hires are referred by current employees and are evaluated during the interview process on whether they will be able to handle the job requirements.
Pacific Petroleum requires its employees to participate in 40 hours of hazardous waste training, MSHAW training, be OSHA certified and take driver training classes. “We send our supervisors out to various schools to take classes so they can become in-house trainers for Pacific Petroleum employees,” Hochleutner says. “We offer continuous training for our employees.”
The Santa Maria area is known for producing crude oil and Hochleutner says he has seen an increase in activity. Pacific Petroleum is hiring additional employees, increasing its inventory and expanding its services.
“This area was so big at one time there were thousands of people,” Hochleutner adds. “Because it’s also one of the first areas to shut down, all the big vendors left and there are only small companies left. Necessity dictated us to stock more equipment and materials in our warehouse.”
Pacific Petroleum recently opened a pumping unit repair division to accommodate customer demand. “It’s another growth area for us,” Hochleutner says. “Besides transportation, Pacific Petroleum performs confined space tank cleaning, hydro excavating for work locating pipeline or electrical lines and also has trained crews for DOT pipeline repairs.”
In the future, Hochleutner says he anticipates continued growth in the area and for Pacific Petroleum to add to its services in anticipation of customer needs.