AFS CUSTOMER SPOTLIGHT: BRIDEAU ENERGY
By Barry Aruda, October 2019
Mark Brideau is an oil man. When I meet him in his office this morning, the evidence is clear: Oil is his life. Framed pictures on the wall of days gone by—globe topped gas pumps, antique oil trucks, hard working men of the trade that gave their daily lives over to one thing and one thing only. Delivering quality fuel to their customers, and building trust in the family name. Mark takes that promise to heart to this day.
Mark started in the business making deliveries at age 16, and when his father sold his business in 1982, worked with the new owners until starting Brideau Oil (now Brideau Energy) in 1987. His humble beginnings in the industry led him onto bigger and better things. Acquisitions, an oil crisis in the mid 1970’s, warnings of climate change and, most recently, the changing fuels we call ultra-low sulfur diesel and ultra-low sulfur heating oil. He’s seen it all, and the challenges that come with an ever-changing industry.
“Ultra-low sulfur products have been a hurdle, that’s true. The fire side of the business—that is, burners, heat-exchangers, and those components, have been cleaner, but I think many people don’t realize how much education goes behind the wet side of the business, with fuel storage. Fuel management has become a full-time job.”
The man isn’t wrong. What Mark is alluding to is the challenges that arise with storage of the fuel—namely moisture/water and bacterial contamination—what the industry collectively refers to as “sludge.” And his understanding of those problems is not specific to his two 50,000-gallon tanks, located in Templeton, Mass. In fact, Mark argues, the problems often manifest in the basement oil tanks of homes, when a watchful eye isn’t keeping track of what’s what.
Like any other fuel oil dealer, Mark has a staff of eight field technicians. They’re well trained, experienced, and hard-working. But even the best technician cannot work 24/7. And, you guessed it, Mark knows that as well. That is precisely the reason he made an investment in fuel additives years ago, in 2009.
“Fuel quality is not an issue for us anymore.”
“Service is the backbone of our business,” Mark explains. “My Dad knew that, and I continue that same commitment to this day. Unfortunately, no matter how good someone’s service is, that service won’t matter if a technician has to go back to a customer’s home multiple times for the same fuel quality problem.”
“With our heating oil additive, HeatDoc™, we are able to stabilize the fuel over a long period of time—that’s the time of year when the heating system isn’t being used—call it April to October. During this time, moisture can come from the outside into the tank. By stabilizing the fuel with HeatDoc™, we’re able to ensure when the burner finally calls for oil, they have a good quality fuel.”
All fuels have water in them to some degree. In years past, the sulfur content of those fuels acted as a deterrent to the moisture content, holding it in suspension. When ultra-low sulfur came in, the fuels became more hygroscopic—a big word meaning “likes moisture more.” The fuels, like kitchen sponges, soak up moisture from the atmosphere, but no longer can hold the water, dropping it from the fuel and allowing it to sink the bottom of storage tanks, creating an oil/water interface. Mark trusts his additive package to protect against that.
What’s more a piece of mind for him, is that the HeatDoc™ Program provides corrosion protection, moisture dispersant, a yellow metal deactivator, and a biodiesel stabilizer as well.
“It’s a powerhouse product,” Mark says with a genuine smile. “You should see our spent filters in the slop-sink. They’re cleaner than they’ve ever been. We conduct yearly check-ups now, with some filters in good shape, even after two years’ time. It’s pretty unbelievable that the filter was in great condition after 1300 gallons’ usage.” After 1300 gallons (two years’ time), this filter is still going strong.
But Mark is nothing if not diverse in his business. In addition to heating oil, Brideau Energy also provides on-road and off-road diesel. And you guessed it, it’s treated with an advanced stabilizer package, year-round, specifically suited for diesel.
“Protecting the fuel in the winter is crucial,” Mark says. “I’ve got off-road clients, loggers, whose equipment will sometimes sit outside in the frigid weather for a week. When they go to turn those engines over, they have to work. And they know they will with our premium diesel.”
The diesel Mark is referring to is blended with MDA C5™, heavily dosed with proprietary technology of a Wax Anti-Settling Agent, or WASA, for short. Beyond that, the diesel is fortified with cetane improver, to ensure the combustion happens fast, hot, and clean.
“So, what’s the best part about your experience with premium blends?” I ask him.
With a sip of coffee, he thinks for a moment with his eyes focused on the window. “Well, I can tell you that fuel quality is not an issue for us anymore. But, more importantly, it’s probably the reduction in fuel-related service calls. We’ve all but eliminated them. That’s important because I’ve never been a fan of sending any of my men out at night into the cold. We take care of our people, not just customers, but the people who we count as part of the Brideau Family as well.”
Barry Aruda is the Northeast Territory Manager for Advanced Fuel Solutions. As an admitted “fuel quality fanatic,” he spends a great deal of his full-time job testing fuel for analysis, recommending preventative defensive strategies, and working with dealers to overcome the challenges of housekeeping and changing technology.