Retailer Columns

OPINION: 2020 hindsight

December finally got here! This year – which at times seemed like it would never end – will be coming to an end in a few days. It would be nice to think the end of the year would also mark the end of all the difficulties and weirdness we’ve encountered in 2020. If “2020 hindsight” only means we are done with 2020 and get to watch it get smaller in our rearview mirrors, that would be comforting.  But we’re big boys and girls. We know that’s not the case. 2020’s impact will be felt by businesses, governments, and individuals for many months and probably years to come.

“2020 hindsight” means something a little different to me today. It’s not so much about irritating people who claim things now obvious to all of us were obvious to them a long time ago – because those people would CLEARLY be lying about 2020. No, 2020 hindsight now should be more about evaluating past events and choices made and seeing more clearly now than when we were in the eye of the storm and learning from those experiences.

One thing we learned is how valuable convenience store owners, operators, and workers are to all of us, and the ethanol industry owes a debt of gratitude for all of you who went to work every day and sold our products to consumers. Sure, there were less of them out there filling their tanks, but when drivers needed fuel, you were there. Thank you.

And in the midst of the initial surge of the coronavirus, through the latest, larger surge, some station owners and convenience store chains even took steps to increase the amount of ethanol they will be selling in their fuel. E15 and E85 are more available now than they’ve ever been, and with funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Higher Blend Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP), even more high ethanol blend fuels will be made available in the coming months and years. We’re thankful for those additions.

We’re also seeing increased use of’s Flex Check tool, which allows fuel station owners and operators to find out if they already have equipment that is compatible with E15 (SPOILER ALERT: Most of your equipment is already compatible), and hopefully that leads to more stations offering the new, higher octane, EPA approved, regular unleaded grade of gasoline being sold as Unleaded15, Unleaded88, Regular88, Unleaded E15, and many other names. Retailers who have added the fuel have increased volume and customer counts and are making more money. The bottom line is the bottom line. Don’t look into E15 because we want you to. Look into it because it can set you apart from your competitors and increase your profits.

That’s what we saw in 2020. More sales of higher ethanol blends. With consumers more concerned about cleanliness and health than ever before, why not offer gasoline enriched with higher octane ethanol, which is also increasingly being used to kill germs on surfaces and as hand sanitizer? And it’s plant-based! 2020 hindsight tells us higher ethanol blends create opportunities for fuel retailers. If you’d like to learn more about those opportunities from marketers like you, check out their stories at While you’re there, try the Flex Check compatibility tool. Wouldn’t it be nice to find out you’re even more ready for 2021 than you thought you were? And feel free to contact ACE if you’ve got other questions. Even if they seem weird. After all the standard for weird has moved a lot in the past nine months!

Merry Christmas to you and yours. Thank you for selling our product to your customers, and best wishes for a successful 2021!

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