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When cold winds blow, business is good at Rockingham Petroleum Co-op. A partner with Southern States, it's the largest fuel oil distributor in Rockingham County.
With 18 delivery trucks on the road making 30 stops a day, the company stays its busiest between December and February. But when wicked winter weather strikes, Rockingham Petroleum is only able to have 5 trucks out. They're making emergency runs only to the homes that need heating oil the most.
Irvin Armentrout, General Manager at Rockingham Petroleum Co-op/Southern States, says, "Most people prepare for the snow before it comes and try to call us and get it delivered before the snow. But we've got a few who left themselves run out and we try to accommodate them as best we can."
Armentrout says last week, hundreds of people in the Valley were placing orders in anticipation of the storm. Tanks were topped off and delivery trucks were equipped with snow tires and chains.
That's meant more business since some smaller oil distributors could not get out and their customers switched to Rockingham Petroleum to stay warm.
Deliveryman, Gary Huffman, says, "A few of them have done that. But for the most part it's been so cold everybody's been burning it up."
The minimum order for delivery is 100 gallons. Armentrout knows that's a lot of money for customers to pay.
"I hate to see anyone go without heat but the other side of that from our point in running a business it has to be economically feasible to make the delivery."
Oil prices have been especially high this winter. The good news, Armentrout says the wholesale price has recently decreased less than a penny.