Every day, we all encounter things we love and things that need to change. The former gives us joy. The latter fuels our desire to make the world different—ideally, better than we found it.
However, trying to change deepseated beliefs and behaviors is daunting. We accept the status quo because effecting real change seems impossible. Still, we dare to ask: Can one individual make a difference? And, in our bravest moments: Could that one individual be me?
Throughout my career, I have been blessed to have encountered some of the most bull- headed progressive entrepreneurs and industry leaders you could ever imagine. When I say bull-headed, I’m being complimentary; they simply refused to follow but chose to lead. Often, they would question products and systems that were working just fine in the hopes of making them better. You may pass these people every day and not know who they are or what they stand for. They are the Steve Jobs, Elon Musks, Richard Bransons and the Ben Franklins, but we all know their stories, don’t we? What is yours?
Transitions & transitioning
When it comes to transitioning the heating oil industry from carbonrich to low-carbon, one could suggest it is risky business, or at the very least it goes against the grain, especially when some suggest aggressive change equates to creative destruction.
A decade ago, when I had casual conversations with many of my industry associates about moving away from carbon to a low-carbon fuel, I was blasted with sizzling criticism. No one would ever embrace a new fuel that would disrupt the norm and potentially add costs to the supply chain. Customers wouldn’t have even thought about asking for low-carbon fuel because they had no idea how it would help reduce their out-of-pocket homeheating expenses. So why change; why turn things upside-down; what’s the point?
The point is that the industry, and its core product heating oil, were long overdue for a change. Why? Because heating oil, as we know it, is no longer in-vogue with policy leaders where electrification is the new natural gas.
The wave effect
That lone voice I referenced above was mine, and I’m not sure at what point I realized that a singular voice wouldn’t be effective in ensuring the industry warmly embraced Bioheat® fuel. However, I did realize I was never really alone. I learned that having a single ally is enough to dramatically increase your will to act. I had found one person who believed in my vision and together we began tackling the challenges.
Then that person found their one person and the multiplier effect took over. That multiplier effect flourished exponentially when on Sept. 17, 2019, the Northeast’s heating oil industry resolved to achieve net-zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2050. This ambitious goal was set at the Northeast Industry Summit during the Heating & Energizing America Trade Show at the Rhode Island Convention Center.
As you know, the industry’s resolution calls for a 15% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2023, a 40% reduction by 2030 and net-zero-carbon emissions by 2050. The resolution also directed industry associations and other groups assembled at the meeting to work with each other to achieve these emissions reductions.
Fast-forward to today—the New England Fuel Institute (NEFI), in concert with its consulting partner, the Kearney Group, is working tirelessly through five working groups to bring the journey to Net Zero one step closer to when home heating transitions to a blend of 20% biodiesel (B20) by 2030.
These working groups are made up of industry participants with varying backgrounds and interests; they are made up of individuals like you. No special qualifications are required to participate. However, one key attribute the organizers sought when filling the committees was a 100% commitment to the industry’s longevity and ultimate success. Love of industry and viable energy options for the consumer needed to be at the top of the qualifications list regardless of any other skill.
Therefore, from a lone voice came nearly 300 attendees at a Rhode Island meeting to drive he agenda. Five working groups with approximately 250 individuals will work exhaustively to build the roadmap, and an entire industry will follow. We are not alone; we are made up of thousands of fuel dealers in 23 States, all working toward building our independent businesses daily.
You are probably tired of hearing people like me use luminaries like Steve Jobs to convey a point. Well indulge me for another moment. On more than one occasion, this iconic visionary held his audience’s attention as he pitched another innovative product. He encouraged those in the audience to think differently.
He led his company to levels rarely achieved by his counterparts and certainly redefined his space, time and time again. He once said, We give people products they do not even know they want. Once future users learned how that product would improve their lives and performance, they wanted it, again and again. Jobs was clearly an industry visionary— as are you, if, of course, you elect to join the evolution of oilheat and do your part to make Net Zero a reality.
When a group becomes as cohesive as we appear to be now, it develops a strong culture; people share the same values and believe in them passionately. I share these observations of then and now to encourage you to join the early adopters and not be an observer in this transition, but an active participant. Regardless of where you operate your business, your State heating industry executive is eager to hear from you. As I have said countless times before, the success which we are poised to enjoy will be totally dependent not on my lone voice, but on our collective voices.
Make no mistake about it, the road to Net Zero is a long and challenging one, but the journey becomes less daunting and more predictably successful if you raise your voice in unison with your industry collaborators facing down the question, If not Bioheat® fuel, then what?
For more information, marketing tools, guidance or just to share an observation please contact Paul Nazzaro, 978-880-5338 or [email protected]. ICM