Pain At The Pump: Landscaping Companies - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

4/15/08-Tyler

Pain At The Pump: Landscaping Companies

Oil prices have surged to nearly $114 a barrel and the latest Department of Energy survey shows gas sitting at $3.38 a gallon, up five cents from last week and 51 cents from last year.

East Texas landscaping businesses are feeling the pain twofold at the pump and at the lawnmower. Now they say those costs will blow over to you.

From the weedeater to a backpack blower and of course, that riding lawnmower...the list goes on.

"Edgers, hedgers, trimmers, mowers, vacuums, everything eats gasoline," explains James Wilhite, owner of Wilhite Landscaping and Lawn Care.

That gasoline is now eating profits, he says. Wilhite explains their fuel budget has more than doubled over the past three years - an increase of about 75,000 dollars.

"Fuel can just absolutely be a killer," he says.

And unfortunately, owner James Wilhite says that "killer"cost has to be passed on to you.

"We've obviously had to raise our prices to accommodate the price of gas. We can't just consume it, we've got to pass it on to the consumer, but of course our consumers are sandwiched the same way we are."

So while we're filling up our tank, his workers are filling up theirs too, and then some.

"In our business, we use larger trucks than most people and of course we've got to get all of our equipment to the jobsite so every vehicle is pulling a load every step of the way," Wilhite says.

Already, the company maps out its routes accordingly and tries to use as little equipment as they can. But if prices get too high, they may have to trade in their leaf blower for a leak rake.

"It's the one piece of equipment that we own that doesn't eat gas," Wilhite says.

We made more calls to several other landscaping companies and each one said high gas prices are affecting their prices too.  Some are even having to charge a fuel surcharge to its customers.

Tracy Watler, Reporting tracy@kltv.com

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