Here's the wrap-up to my conversation with Mike Moorhead, president of TruSouth Oil, makers of 50Fuel:
GCM: How long has it been available?
MM: We’re coming into our second year and this is the year we plan to allocate some marketing dollars. It’s never been seen before, and some people look at it and they say, “Wait a minute, the fuel’s already in this?” Some people think it’s a big can of oil, which it’s not. We’ve got to overcome some of the hurdles that come along with being the first.
GCM: What’s the reaction been like so far?
MM:It’s really catching on. Obviously it saves time for busy people who don’t want to go through the steps to make a fuel to mow, weed eat, etc. The most compelling feedback we’ve gotten is how remarkable the performance difference is in the equipment once they start using our product. There’s a noticeable difference in RPMs, no smoke, truer response, easy start… this product is high octane, it’s roughly 94 octane, has no gum and varnish, we stripped out the ethanol…
The product is not a gimmick, it really delivers high performance for these small engines. And because of the way it’s packaged, it has a very long shelf life. It stays fresh for a long time, unlike what you get at the gas pump, that’s sitting in your garage -- that may lose its efficacy in 30 to 60 days.
GCM:You mentioned that 50Fuel is ethanol-free… can you tell me why that is so important?
MM: It’s kind of interesting, the general public thinks of ethanol, it’s “green,” it’s probably a good thing in the big picture, I know you could argue both sides… But it is a renewable resource. The government is allowing blenders of fuel to put 10% ethanol in the fuel, and they’re getting ready to go towards 15% ethanol. Probably 75% of fuel sold in the U.S. contains ethanol.
For a car, that’s great. For a small engine, like the ones that drive a chainsaw, weed-eater or blower? This ethanol formulation is causing horrible problems. In a car, typically you’re driving it a fair bit, the engine is big, the fuel is turned over. In a chainsaw, you have a 13-oz fuel receptacle. You might run that chainsaw for a few hours and then put it away for a few weeks without using it again. One of the main characteristics of ethanol is that it’s an oxygenated fuel –- what that means is it grabs moisture out of the air very readily. Once that moisture gets in the fuel, it has a propensity to separate. There’s a technical term for that, it’s called “phase separation,” where you get a layer of fuel and a layer of ethanol with water on it. And that combination can be very detrimental to these small engines.
No. 1, once the ethanol is separated, it can act as a very powerful solvent, and it can corrode very quickly the fuel lines and the plastic parts in the carburetor. The maintenance issues surrounding ethanol is significant… as the government allows higher levels of ethanol to be blended into gas pump fuel, the manufacturers of hand-held power tools are really struggling for a solution, because we don’t think that the ethanol treatments that are out there deliver great results. The best thing you can do is use fuel that doesn’t contain ethanol. It burns hotter as well, in the combustion process, which causes another set of problems. The key, if the fuel is sitting for longer than 30 days, there’s a likelihood that there will be moisture in the fuel.
MM: Right now we’re in the process of rebranding the products… from currently available in the marketplace as “50Fuel,” we’re re-launching it as “TruFuel 50” and "TruFuel 40.” The product is currently available at Wal-Mart as 40Fuel… Bernard’s, Do It Best, Tru Value, Ace, probably 2,500 small engine shops throughout the country, we’re up in Canada at Canadian Tire and Rubber, Home Depot in Canada… we’re at the front end of building our distribution footprint. But it’s out there, and we endeavor to get it on more store shelves this summer.
GCM: What’s retail?
MM: Well, we don’t set retail price, but I’ve seen it anywhere from $3.89 to $5.25.
GCM: Mike, those were all my questions -- it's been a real pleasure, thanks for your time on this, and best of luck to you guys.
MM: It was my pleasure, Seth. Thanks for the opportunity.