Greater Efficiency through Technology

California Fuels & Lubricants
Written by Robert Hoshowsky

For over a decade, California Fuels & Lubricants has grown to become one of the largest and most respected distributors of petroleum in Southern California. The company is based in historic Garden Grove, which is conveniently located in Orange county, right next to Los Angeles county.
The company offers customers a range of branded and unbranded products including Regular Diesel, Red Dyed Diesel, Diesel Exhaust Fluid, a range of Bio Fuels, Gasoline, Racing Fuel and Jet Fuel. It also offers a variety of oils and Lubricants including Motor Oils, Transmission Oil, Hydraulic Oil, and white oils. Being an exclusive marketer of CITGO products in the West Coast, the team can offer its clients with the very best pricing on all CITGO products.

California Fuels & Lubricants was formed with a vision of being the best in the business. It carries petroleum products manufactured by some of the largest refineries in the world, with quality meeting the highest standards in the market. The company was formed in 2004 when Jaime Duenas and Efrain Davalos had an idea of starting a fuel business. Davalos was already in the fuel industry and recognized an opportunity in the marketplace while Duenas was previously in the construction industry – a significant consumer of fuel – and was looking for a change.

In September of 2004, under the name AAA Oil, Inc., Davalos and Duenas began delivering fuel to small local businesses. The duo faced challenges in the first few years, including bumping heads with larger distributors that had stronger buying power.

Receiving special financing through Comerica Bank in 2007 enabled AAA Oil to compete with larger and more established fuel companies. It was also certified by the Small Business Administration and Minority Business Enterprise. Armed with the support of Comerica Bank and an SBA certificate, the renewed company set on its path to success and began delivering fuel under a new name: California Fuels & Lubricants.

The company’s staff is comprised of employees with a variety of skill set. It has a team of accountants, software & lubricant engineers, dispatchers, service technicians, sales persons and delivery drivers, all of whom operate on a foundation of customer service and respect.

The team at California Fuels & Lubricants has a strong commitment to safety. Products are delivered by certified and experienced HAZMAT drivers. “When delivering fuel, safety is never left on the back burner,” says the company’s Chief Operations Officer Carlos Gutierrez. “Our company has placed tremendous importance on the safety of our drivers and the public.”

Before new workers even start, candidates are mandated to take pre-employment safety tests, background checks, meet physical fitness requirements and participate in a thirty-day training program. “Additionally, each of our drivers are required to complete monthly training, ranging from prevention of tanker roll over to first aid and CPR. We are very proud of our safety program, but even more proud of all our drivers that participate.”

“We’ve also taken steps to make sure our employees are growing with us. We continue to grow our benefit package that includes life insurance and profit sharing. We’re doing our best to provide an enjoyable environment for employees and have contracted professionals to assist us. We also organizing activities for everyone to participate, most recently our staff participated in a mud run event that proved to be a tremendous success.”

The company has now grown to two locations – one in Garden Grove and a second in Riverside – which have allowed it to develop a foothold in areas including Kern, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino and San Diego County. California Fuels & Lubricants has many customers in construction, as well as with shipping terminals, energy producers and logistics companies. As the economy continues to improve, so has the demand for fuel.

The company embraces the latest technology, something that can be challenging for older companies. This receptivity to emerging technology has not only benefited the company, but its many customers.

“Most of our competitors have been in the business fifty years plus,” says Gutierrez. “As a new company, we needed to find something that would set us apart from our competitors. We found our niche in the form of technology. Where companies were still checking their fuel inventory by sticking a measuring stick, we’ve installed wireless monitors. Customers can view their inventory by logging on to our site. Our program provides our customers with a variety of tools that include average daily usage, consumption patterns, and reminders for ordering.”

The program is known as Efficiency and allows customers with Internet access and a computer to track their fuel consumption and maintain a competitive edge. “They can tap into the program, check their inventory and have a variety of other tools to help them manage their fuel consumption,” comments Gutierrez.

With Efficiency, customers can manage, monitor, forecast and receive up-to-date information in just seconds. The program has proven itself with customers over and over. For customers who do not have the time to monitor their fuel, the company offers its Keep Full program. Staff will remotely check the level of client fuel tanks and schedule deliveries as needed for no extra cost.

Additionally, the company’s dispatch team – with critical information readily available – can provide customers a second pair of eyes watching their fuel. “For us, it has been a great tool to work proficiently. When we make a delivery, we’re sure that we will be delivering a full load of fuel and not just a partial load, helping us spread the cost to the maximum number of gallons and offering our customer a better price for the service.”

With the price of fuels constantly changing, California Fuels & Lubricants benefits customers by purchasing in large volume, which has enabled the company to secure contract pricing and reduce the effects of market fluctuation.

Giving quality service, a range of products and superior client service has benefited the business over the years. As important as offering established fuels is to customers, it has been vital for the company to keep pace with new and emerging products.

“As new fuels have come to market, we’ve needed to expand our product list to include biofuels, diesel exhaust fluid and lubricants,” says Gutierrez. “Lubricants has brought a whole world of new challenges, mostly because of the vast variety of lubricants in the market.”

California Fuels & Lubricants can meet virtually any client need with an impressive assortment of equipment, fuels, chemicals and accessories. From air operated oil/ATF pumps and bulk storage tanks to control handles, grease guns, hand pumps, automotive oil drains, control meters, hose ends and fittings, the company has customers covered. It supplies racing fuels including 100 unleaded, 110 leaded, 114 leaded and 118 leaded and carries a range of antifreeze products, brake cleaners, diesel clean, kerosene and solvents. It even has floor mats, hazmat spill products and oil spill kits.

“All our tanks and reels are all built in America, mostly here in Southern California and places in the Midwest,” says Gutierrez.

Complementing its quality products are services including on-site refueling, inventory management, tank rentals and sales and 24/7 emergency service. Service teams are there to assist customers, no matter when or the circumstances. Some customers are a part of vital emergency services in the area, including power generator companies, utility companies and high rise buildings.

“Our customers depend on a reliable source of fuel,” states Gutierrez. “During the San Diego 2011 blackout, our company found itself delivering fuel around the clock. We had most of our fleet making the two-hour journey south to help our customers restore power.”

Precisely measuring its growth over the past years, Chief Operation Officer Gutierrez says the company is committed to optimizing its strategies for the betterment of the business and its customers and looks forward to working with established and new clients.

“It’s an exciting time for our company. We are branching out of the greater Southern California area and moving north toward Stockton, east towards Las Vegas, Nevada and Arizona,” he says. “Our customer base has expanded and requiring us to cover new ground. Our entire growth has all been organic. With 2016 around the corner, we are planning to keep the same pace and are excited about the future.”



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