Fuel prices hurting South Georgia business - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Fuel prices hurting South Georgia business

March 13, 2008

Albany -- The skyrocketing cost of diesel fuel is hurting some South Georgia businesses.

 Kenny Freeman opened his truck repair shop, Kenny's Truck, Trailer, and Welding Repair in 1999, but says business has never been slower. Freeman said "I'm really worried it could come down to that. I'd have to shut my doors."

 And Kenny says the problem is the soaring price of diesel fuel. Most of his customers own and operate their trucks, and many have stopped running because of the high cost of fuel. So Kenny had to lay off most of his workers. Freeman said "we had 11 employees, and we're down to keeping a two and a half or three man crew."

Diesel fuel costs are near four dollars a gallon, but the pay many truckers get to haul freight aren't keeping pace. Kenny says many of his trucking customers are running without service. Freeman said "that man told me he could not remember the last time he changed the oil in his truck. He could not afford to."

And Freeman said those cutbacks make for dangers on the roads for everyone. Freeman said " And having a blowout. He would dummy the tire out and ride with one missing. It's ridiculous, it's unsafe."

Freeman said many of his former customers have parked their trucks, leaving him in a bind. But he knows without those trucks hauling goods to stores, prices for food and all goods will continue to go up, and shortages could begin.  Freeman said "that is the whole cycle of the gas war. And I don't know when it's going to stop or how it's going to stop. I just want it to stop."

Stop before more South Georgia businesses are forced into layoffs. Freeman says his business has gone from about 11 customers a day to maybe three.

He says his competitors and businesses such as parts dealers are also feeling the effect of high fuel costs.

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