Birmingham company FuelFox changes the way people fill up

Birmingham company FuelFox changes the way people fill up
A FuelFox truck fuels a car in a Birmingham parking lot. The gasoline delivery service has a growing customer base. (file)

Stealthy as a fox, Ben Morris slips in, fills up his customers’ vehicles with gas and drives away.

“It feels like magic,” said Brooke Battle, who has been taking advantage of FuelFox, Birmingham’s new on-site fuel-delivery service, for two months. “I hate gas stations. Anytime I need gas, it’s never convenient: It’s cold or rainy outside, it’s nighttime or I’m in a hurry. Now I pull into my parking place at work, and when I come out of the office at 6 that evening, my gas tank is filled up.”

Most Americans are like Battle. Filling up their gas tank is a necessary evil. It was that knowledge that led Morris to launch FuelFox.

“I got the idea from my wife,” said Morris, founder and CEO of FuelFox. “She’d be running late for a meeting or late picking up our kids, and she would have to stop to get gas. She’d tell me, ‘I’m going to be late, and I’m going to smell like gas.’ So I thought with the advent of mobile pay on your phone, why can’t we have a service where gas can be delivered directly to you?”

With people everywhere juggling work and family obligations, Morris knew he had hit on a solution. A fuel-delivery service, said Morris, will save people time, provide convenience, increase productivity and, best of all, offer a more affordable option.

Morris added little has changed in the fuel-delivery industry since the first gas station opened in Pennsylvania in 1913. People are still forced to take time out of their busy schedules to locate a gas station where they can fill up their tank.

“Gas stations are unsafe, antiquated, unsanitary and a waste of time for the customer,” said Morris, adding that in 2016, the FBI reported 25,579 robberies at gas stations. “With FuelFox, we are bringing the way people fuel their vehicles into the 21st century.”

Stealthy FuelFox lets customers skip the gas station from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

FuelFox lets customers skip the gas station from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Morris opened FuelFox last July, first providing the service to company fleets in Jefferson and Shelby counties. Then, with the rollout of the FuelFox app on iOS and Android mobile devices in November, he began offering the service to individuals.

FuelFox is in essence a mobile gas station. Morris and his team of “ambassadors” bring the gas directly to FuelFox members, whether they are at work, the mall or the gym.

Through the FuelFox app, people can easily register for the service and then schedule their gas fill-ups at any of the five Birmingham-area “Fox Spots,” specific locations where the ambassadors stop to deliver fuel each week. Members then receive a notification on their phone the night before the delivery to remind them that FuelFox will be at their preferred “Fox Spot” the next day. The best part is that members don’t need to be present for the fuel delivery.

“We come while you are at work, exercising or shopping, and fill up your tank,” Morris said. “You never have to go out of your way to find a gas station again. Having FuelFox is like riding around with a full tank of gas every day.”

FuelFox is much more than a gas provider, Morris said. It offers full service at “self-service prices.”

That means that along with filling up gas tanks, FuelFox cleans front windshields, checks tire pressure and adds air, if needed, and notifies the member of any other potential issues.

Trip Umbach said making the decision to sign up for FuelFox was a “no brainer.”

“I’m getting gas cheaper than I otherwise would, and it’s more convenient because someone else is filling up my tank, checking my tire pressure and washing my windshield,” said Umbach. “How could you not do it? It really couldn’t be easier.”

FuelFox is also servicing company fleets throughout the Birmingham area. Each night, FuelFox makes scheduled stops at various companies to fill up fleet vehicles, thus allowing the employees to start their day with a full gas tank.

Since opening in July, FuelFox has rapidly expanded its business and is servicing nine fleets, ranging in size from 10 to 72 vehicles, Morris said.

“We are helping companies increase productivity and efficiency,” he said. “We save employees’ time. When they arrive at work the next morning, they can focus on their clients and not have to take time to fill up their vehicles.”

Morris was a partner at a local law firm for 15 years when he decided to make a 360-degree career change. Last summer, he took a chance and went from practicing law to pumping gas.

“I have always had the entrepreneurial bug,” said Morris, noting that he started his first business at 10 years old selling tomatoes door to door and spreading pine straw for neighbors. “I have been looking and looking for a new business. It took me 15 years to find one that I thought was viable.”

Opening FuelFox has been a smart move, Morris said. In just six months, the company has performed about 8,500 fuelings, dispensed more than 127,000 gallons of gas, and expanded to include nine company fleets and five individual “Fox Spots.” FuelFox has increased the amount of gas it dispenses each week by 154 percent.

“I’ve been very pleased with our success,” Morris said. “The response has been overwhelmingly positive. I’ve never met one person who enjoys going to the gas station, and we are removing that unpleasant experience from their life.”

Buying gas through FuelFox is easy and economical, Morris said. FuelFox members pay the AAA average gas price for the county. And as a special introductory offer, FuelFox has waived all additional membership fees through March 31.

After that time, members will pay a $199 annual fee, allowing them to receive four fill-ups per month or one per week. Subscriptions can be canceled at any time with no penalty.

For more information or to subscribe to the individual membership service, visit FuelFox.net or download the app from the Apple Store on iPhones or GooglePlay on Android mobile devices.

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