During this year’s NACS show in Chicago, the Petroleum Equipment Institute (PEI)
held their annual convention. During the PEI Convention, Executive Vice President
Rick Long presented the yearly “State of the Industry” which focused on the findings
and results for 2017. Given PEI’s connections to the business communities who make
up the petroleum industry, their findings and analysis are always sought after inasmuch
as it provides an evaluation of how the industry performed throughout the prior year;
and, most importantly, suggest ways on how to better themselves for calendar year
2018—an essential, bottom-line litmus test for sure.
So, that said, just how has business been for all of us collectively over the better part of
2017? As Vice President Long pointed out, on a scale of 1 to 10, fuel distributors
ranked the overall business’ performance a rather impressive 7.2 with overall service,
upgrades and construction topping the list as areas of best performance. A respectable
score indeed. Manufacturers ranked this year’s overall experience a 6.87, the result of
a three-year upswing in that department. Furthermore, Vice President Long pointed to
the strong and ever-improving economy as the justification for the impressive results as
he said is like, “A rising tide which lifts all boats.”
In addition, PEI asked distributors and manufacturers to rank their optimism for their
respective businesses looking forward to the coming year. Among distributors, the
average rating was a 7.43 out of a possible 10, continuing a trend of positive
expectations spanning the last few years. Similarly, manufacturers were in the same
range, 7.35, recovering from a much lower optimism score the prior year.
As far as employment is concerned, manufacturers are not expecting to expand their
workforces largely due to advances made in automation. Conversely, distributors were
more optimistic that hiring would increase throughout calendar year 2018. In the area of
business performance, 95 percent of manufacturers were either “moderately optimistic”
or “extremely optimistic” that overall performance would show continuous improvement
while 85 percent of distributors echoed that sentiment. In other words, the future is
definitely bright for the petroleum industry as a whole—positive, welcoming news for
Regarding ethanol-blended E-15 fuel, it was noted that the pro-ethanol community
hypothesized that if E-15 regulations were changed, thus allowing the sale of the higher
blend fuel over the summer months, sales would assuredly spike. However, PEI
findings certainly did not support those idealistic beliefs: one in five respondents simply
stated, “you just can’t guess.” That said, the summertime waiver will certainly happen
sooner rather than later, providing the industry “actual facts” as Vice President Long
So, all in all, the state of the petroleum industry as a whole is overwhelmingly positive.
The results speak for themselves, and the prospects for 2018 seem quite promising.
Here’s to fulfilling that expectation and making the coming year the best one ever.
Godspeed and best wishes.