Alternative Fuels Good for Business at California Truck Stop

Located in a trucking hub, Fontana Truck Stop Center meets demand for cleaner fuels and sees positive margins with biodiesel and renewable hydrocarbon diesel.

Fontana Truck Stop Center has an ideal location. It’s just off one interstate and near another, both of them taking traffic to and from Los Angeles. It’s also in an industrial area populated with distribution centers, manufacturers and equipment dealerships.

“Fontana is a major hub for trucking,” says truck stop co-owner Lonnie Tabbaa. “You have all the big industries here. And we service all the major fleets and the smaller ones, both local and out-of-state drivers.”

But with fierce competition in the area for drivers, success is not guaranteed. Fontana Truck Stop Center has found that offering renewable fuels is one way to stand out, so they sell biodiesel blends and a blend of biodiesel and renewable hydrocarbon diesel (RHD) at its diesel islands.

The biodiesel advantage

Sustainability comes into play a couple of different ways.

First, companies and municipalities are increasingly adopting sustainability plans that aim to reduce their carbon footprints. Transportation fuels are a significant part of those efforts.

Second, the state of California is a global leader in setting policies to cut emissions. That includes the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), which requires a reduction in the carbon intensity of transportation fuels.

Fontana Truck Stop Center began selling biodiesel blends in 2015, starting at a B5 blend before quickly moving up to B20.

“Biodiesel is better for the environment than regular diesel,” says Abdul Mardini, the truck stop’s general manager. “It also gives us an advantage on the price we pay for fuel. At the same time, we can offer it to the drivers at a lower price. And it gives us an advantage on the truck stops that don’t use it.”

New blend draws interest

In 2017, Fontana Truck Stop Center began offering renewable hydrocarbon diesel for similar reasons: sustainability and economics. Then REG, which they buy fuel from, made them aware that blending biodiesel and renewable hydrocarbon diesel was an option. The blended product features many of the best attributes of the individual fuels:

• Superior emissions reductions.
• Excellent Cetane and lubricity, and lower aromatics and Cloud Point.
• Easy handling and storage.
• Allows companies to stretch their supply of RHD, which can be hard to get.

“The economics have been better for us and for drivers, we’ve heard no complaints about performance and it’s good for the environment,” Mardini says. “Also, there’s a lot of demand for RHD in California. By blending it with 20 percent biodiesel, we can expand our supplies of RHD.”

Renewables attract customers

Renewable fuels have done more for Fontana Truck Stop Center than drive business to the pumps. By attracting drivers to the truck stop, they’ve also given a boost to other services, such as in-store food sales, a detail center and a truck wash.

“I’ve told many friends of mine, as well as competitors who have truck stops, that renewable fuels are a good thing to have,” Tabbaa says. “It’s clean for the environment, you can make a better margin on the fuels and the drivers are fine with it. There are no issues.”

"A lot of fleets are sending their trucks to places that have cleaner-burning fuels. Also, we see better margins with renewable fuels than regular diesel fuel. They’re good for business."
Lonnie Tabbaa Co-owner, Fontana Truck Stop Center 

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