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Lott Oil embraces new formula for success

Aug. 16, 2022
Investment in Civacon’s CivaCommand Smart Tank System helps Louisiana-based petroleum hauler prevent costly cross-drops

A company that’s been in business for more than half a century likely has a formula for success. But even successful companies constantly must evaluate their approach as conditions change, and make the necessary adjustments to keep winning.

So it is with fuel and lubricant distributor Lott Oil Company, founded in the early 1960s by Luther Lott, Sr., in the central Louisiana town of Natchitoches. After starting with one truck and two employees, Luther’s son, Luther Jr., affectionately known as “Buddy,” succeeded his father as company president in 1979 with a growth mindset. Eventually, Lott Oil became one of Louisiana’s largest distributors of fuels and lubricants for the industrial, commercial, retail, and wholesale markets through the northern half of the state and into East Texas and southern Arkansas.

From that one truck, Lott Oil has grown to operate a fleet of 22 tractor-trailer delivery vehicles operating out of a network of eight distribution centers in the cities of Natchitoches, Alexandria, Leesville, Many, Monroe, Mansura, Bossier City, and Winnfield.

Michael Lott, the fleet’s transport supervisor and Buddy’s son, serves as the third generation of Lotts responsible for running the business. One of his key tasks is ensuring that all deliveries are completed properly, with no product cross-drops occurring during loading and unloading, and no retained product at the conclusion of the fuel-drop process.

“We had been using a manual system—manually dispatched, manually monitored—to track our deliveries, but we wanted to create another fail-safe to prevent cross-drops at gas stations,” Lott said. “When a cross-drop does occur, it is a pain to get the fuel out of the tank and it’s a pain if someone gets bad fuel in their car, then we have to pay to fix the vehicle. Overall, rectifying a cross-drop is just a very costly and frustrating process.”

Fortunately, Lott attended a trade show earlier this year with one of his mechanics when he bumped into Scott Mehman, strategic products sales manager for Civacon. The two spoke, allowing Lott to express the frustration Lott Oil experienced in trying to prevent fuel cross-drops. This gave Mehman the opportunity to introduce him to the CivaCommand Smart Tank System. According to Civacon, CivaCommand is the only solution on the market for petroleum trailers that uses expandable, advanced digital technology to control the loading and unloading process, helping fleets streamline their fuel deliveries and reduce costly mistakes. It’s a “highly engineered, easy-to-use solution” that consolidates access to the different control systems on the delivery trailer, including cross-drop prevention, fuel-retain notifications, overfill-prevention monitoring, pneumatic (air pressure) control, security, electronic product-grade indicators (PGIs), troubleshooting, and usage history.

“Our mechanic was very interested in how it could prevent cross-drops, so we looked at it in detail and saw that it was something we could afford to try,” Lott explained. “We were also really interested in the system’s ability to produce a retain notification so that before the driver leaves the fuel site he will know for sure if anything remains in that fuel compartment before he returns to the terminal and reloads.”

Lott Oil had just bought two new trailers, so they outfitedt them with the system in late April. And in the first few weeks of using CivaCommand, it drew “rave reviews” from the company’s drivers, the company said.

“The drivers were a little apprehensive at first, but after doing the training with Scott and his team, they got really comfortable with it,” Lott said. “When you’ve been doing something for 10-plus years, no matter what it is, you might be skeptical at first—but so far there have been no complaints.

“They’ve taken to it really fast.”

Lott Oil has eased into the use of CivaCommand with the two trailers delivering two loads, or a total of 32,000 gallons a day, but Lott foresees a day in the not-too-distant future when Lott Oil’s entire fleet will be outfitted with the system.

Now that sounds like a formula for a successful evolution.

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BT staff