Acme Fuel was founded in 1925 by the Springer Mill Company to sell waste wood products as a fuel source for local areas homes in Thurston and Mason county Washington. In the early 1940’s the company was purchased by the Tom Allen Sr. and has remained a locally owned family business since then.
Today, Christophe Allen and his team run a vibrant and growing operation based largely on his belief that consistent superior service and attention to the small details make happy customers and a strong business that otherwise might be just another commodity sale. Doing right by his customers is the foundation for the companies’ long term success. “We find ways to help our customer’s in ways they might not expect by providing niche services the bigger guys don’t want to do because there’s not enough volume. But for us, that little extra service builds customer loyalty. Just little things like doing BBQ grill hookups and offering a variety of specialty fuels builds value for our customers and makes a big difference in the long run”.
But Allen isn’t just a nice guy; he’s also a keen business manager that looks for ways to optimize his operation and improve results. The company is doing several major improvement projects this year including fuel station modernizations, new delivery truck purchases, and a big upgrade for Acme’s information technologies.
He’s also fully embraced the concept that focusing his team on their core business is their best long-term strategy for success and he looks for outsource partners for as many critical day to day functions as possible.
One such decision was getting out of the HVAC business, “We realized that HVAC just isn’t in our long-term interest; now we partner with a great local HVAC company and we share referrals – we’ve added more fuel business doing that than what the HVAC business did for us in terms of overhead and cost”.
Allen realized years ago that IT management was not his companies’ strong suit and hired BrightWire to fully manage his IT department responsibility. “We had used another smaller company for a while and that worked OK, but as our needs increased, eventually we started to see strain in the relationship. Response time to our help requests got much longer, and even the billing got messed up. We found BrightWire on a referral and they are awesome! As a small business owner, I wear many hats, but I certainly don’t have the time to manage all there is do with our computer network. They take all that worry off my list.”
Finally, Allen even decided to outsource their monthly billing to a mailing service, “Before we did that, it was a very stressful time of month with all-hands-on deck stuffing envelopes! Now we have more time devoted to customer service”.
When asked what advice he’d offer to fellow business owners Allen said, “Don’t try to do too many things. Dad was kind of old-school and wanted to manage everything, but we’ve been able to realize success by being the best at delivering great service (and fuel!) to our customers, and matching up with outsource partners that do the same for their clients”.