Roma Fuels Ltd. is a family-owned, fuel and oil supplier in Ontario that is celebrating its 52nd year in the business. From its humble beginnings as a heating oil distributor for residential customers to providing commercial diesel to industrial customers, Roma Fuels Ltd. recognizes its success stems from its roots: strive for excellence, always evolve, be innovative, and drive and inspire change.
Private Motor Carrier had the opportunity to connect with Lino Rollo, Chief Financial Officer of Roma Fuels Ltd., to discuss his family business’s growth, successes and achievements, over the past 52 years and into the future. “My dad, Mario Rollo, and his brother, Guido Rollo, started the business in 1968,” said Lino. “It all started when my dad’s brother, Frank Rollo, was working for Shell Canada in the 1960s as a furnace oil technician. He was really good at his job and inspired my dad and my uncle to get into the industry. He helped them get started by guiding them through the industry licensing requirements.” Eventually, after working for a small oil company, Mario and Guido went out on their own, servicing furnace oil customers in Toronto. “As they grew, they decided they would deliver fuel to customers for home heating in Toronto. They bought an oil truck and started doing the service and delivery of oil for homes. That was a big business back then.” In the early 1980s, the government introduced a new program that paid Canadian residents to convert their homes from diesel or furnace oil to natural gas. This presented as an obstacle for Roma Fuels Ltd.
“All of a sudden, many of our customers started converting over to natural gas. As this program was being rolled out, our future prospects as a residential supplier of heating oil weren’t looking great, so Mario and Guido Rollo decided to broaden their horizons and started to target a new segment of the fuel market by delivering fuel to commercial customers,” said Lino. Roma Fuels Ltd. kept servicing its residential customers and expanded its market to commercial customers, especially the construction industry, who were and are large purchasers of commercial diesel. “Anyone who had a fleet of large construction equipment, we would deliver to them directly on job sites or to their yards,” said Lino. “We began to heavily focus on construction, paving and excavating companies.” Roma Fuels Ltd.’s business went from operating 100% residential to servicing 90% commercial and 10% residential in just 10 years.
Today, Roma Fuels Ltd. still operates this way – primarily servicing commercial clients. In 2007, Roma Fuels Ltd. partnered with Brown’s Fuels, an oil company that operated out of Milton, ON, which has allowed both companies to extend their reach across Ontario. Roma Fuels Ltd., and its partners, have grown organically over time to become one of the largest independent fuel distributors in the Golden Horseshoe. Lino joined the company five years ago with his brother Sergio, the VP of Operations, who has been with the company for 25 years. Lino started his career as a chartered accountant with Arthur Andersen LLP in 1997. His career in public accounting spanned 15 years, including stops with Deloitte & Touche LLP and Grant Thorton LLP. “When I was a kid, I would ride shotgun on a delivery truck during the summer or on the weekends with my dad. I would deliver flyers to homes, help install air conditioners or furnaces, or help out with paperwork in the office. That was the extent of my involvement, growing up as a kid,” said Lino. “I have always stayed close to the family business. I was always interested in what was going on even though I was involved in my own career. I would help out with financial projects etc. whenever I could. Five years ago, my dad and I spoke about joining the family business and (at the time) he was 70 and at the latter part of his career. We both agreed it was the right time to get fully involved in the family business. So, we’re now at a turning point – where the next generation is taking on a larger role in the management of the business. My dad, uncle and mom are still heavily involved in the business. It is truly a family business. Sergio and I manage the day to day operations of the business and report to the Board.” When Lino joined Roma Fuels Ltd., he had a different vision for the family business – one that focused on automating processes and incorporating advancements in technology to better serve customers. There was also a greater emphasis on expanding Roma Fuels Ltd.’s service offerings to target the commercial trucking industry and their specific fueling needs, specifically, wheel to wheel refueling and direct to truck diesel exhaust-fluid (DEF) refilling.
“A lot of automation has gone into the business over the past five years and we continue to focus on that part of the business so we can continue to grow the business without growing the overhead – make things more efficient and productive. We’ve come a long way and we continue to be innovative,” said Lino. Roma Fuels Ltd. expanded its service offerings to include bulk and wheel-to-wheel deliveries of DEF. Throughout its stages of evolution and advancement, the number one priority that Roma Fuels Ltd. always kept in sight was its customers and achieving a high level customer satisfaction. “Customer service is our number one focus by far. We want to make sure our customers are happy, they get the fuel when they need it, and if there’s any issues we trouble-shoot and address those issues immediately,” said Lino. “We really drive customer service excellence in our culture. Everything is about the customer – what are their expectations, what do you want out of this relationship – and we make sure that every person in the organization understands those expectations and aims to exceed them.” Roma Fuels Ltd.’s ‘wheel-to-wheel’ service provides direct to truck refuelling on-site for both diesel fuel and DEF. This service has been increasingly in demand with customers over the past year – especially with consideration to COVID-19. “We’re hearing that drivers don’t want to go to truck stops if they don’t have to. If they can avoid it, they will because of everything that’s happening with COVID and the risk of contagion with fuelling/ handling equipment. Our service offerings address those concerns. In addition, the time saved by drivers not having to fuel themselves can be enormous which helps lower operating costs for trucking companies. So, companies can keep their drivers safe and save money at the same time, what a great combination.” said Lino. “At the end of the day, even though we’re in the logistics/transportation business, we are delivering fuel to customers and that’s what’s expected – that’s a commodity that we’re selling. Where we differentiate ourselves is the customer service side: our service, how we customize an experience for a customer so that they know they’re getting more value out of the relationship than with our competitors.
Under the motto, Fueling Your Productivity, Roma Fuels Ltd. provides a service with accuracy and efficiency, driven with a vision to be innovative, and a mission to serve customers the best way, every day.