When Failure Is Not An Option
by Kent Crawford, Blackmer
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following case study was contributed to Oil & Energy by Blackmer.
Knowing what we know about Ted Burke today, if you were growing up with him he just might have been one of those kids who was game for anything. Eat that bug? Sure. Jump out of that tree? OK. Put a tack on the teacher’s chair? Sounds like fun.
Burke has brought that same let’s-give-it-a-try mentality to his current role as President of Dennis K. Burke, Inc., a 52-year-old company headquartered in Chelsea, MA, that was founded by his Uncle Dennis and run for many years by him and Ted’s father, Ed Burke. Except now, the questions are a little bit different: Operate a multi-state fuel oil, gasoline and lubricants distributorship? Of course. Become a trend-setting supplier of biodiesel to the Northeast? It’s worth a shot. Jump on the Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) bandwagon as one of the first suppliers in the region? You can’t win if you don’t play.
It seems that a “let’s take a shot” attitude is embedded deep within the DNA of the Burke family tree. Uncle Dennis actually started his eponymous company in 1961 as a provider of steam-cleaning services for the inside of meat trailers. Even when the company branched out into the delivery of heating oil, it didn’t follow the traditional path of supplying a customer base that consisted mostly of residences but chose to concentrate instead on municipal and commercial/industrial end-users.
“We started off as a local company supplying diesel fuel for emergency response in high-service areas, companies that needed rapid response time for their requirements,” explained Burke. “Since then, we’ve grown to operate in all of the New England states, plus New York, and as far south as Maryland. We own our own fleet of trucks and we’re a little different than traditional fuel and gas companies in that we don’t deliver heating oil to homes and don’t do gasoline to gas stations. We really specialize in end-users, commercial/industrial and municipal accounts that we supply with diesel fuel.”
A Long-Standing Relationship
While Dennis K. Burke has an impressively diverse product offering—including antifreeze, hydraulic oils and automatic transmission fluids—Ted Burke is a one-pump man, and that pump is a Blackmer® TXD Series Sliding Vane Pump, which Dennis K. Burke has been using for many years.
Today, whenever Ted Burke needs new pumps he reaches out to Mike Trask, President of Hall Trask Equipment Co., Braintree, MA. Hall Trask acquired its current name in 1995 when it purchased Hall Equipment Co., but Trask Equipment had been a recognized supplier of pumps, meters, valves and tank equipment in New England since the 1930s, when it was founded by Mike Trask’s grandfather. His father subsequently ran the business for many years, with Mike and his brothers, Billy and Paul, are now in charge.
Hall Trask has also had a longstanding relationship with Blackmer. “Blackmer has been a long-time manufacturer-supplier of pumps for us, long before Hall Trask came into being in 1995,” said Trask. “When we bought Hall Equipment, we asked Blackmer if they could keep us on as a preferred supplier of Blackmer products and we’re glad they accepted us. We now have more than 40 years overall as a Blackmer supplier.”
All parties involved choose TXD pumps because they are designed for use in truck-mounted applications for the delivery and transfer of a wide array of petroleum products. They feature Blackmer’s unique sliding vane design that self-adjusts for wear and maintains desired flow rates, while providing self-priming and dry-run capabilities. The mechanical seal and ball-bearing construction ensure reliability, while the symmetrical bearing support promotes even loading and wear. Maintenance is easy, as any worn vanes or rods can be replaced without needing to remove the pump from the vehicle.
No Room For Compromise
The four-decade relationship between Dennis K. Burke, Hall Trask Equipment and Blackmer has been fruitful for everyone. It’s hard to walk through the Dennis K. Burke facility and truck yard and not see a Blackmer TXD pump, whether in 2-, 2.5- or 3-inch sizes, on most of the company’s 75-strong fleet of rolling stock, or in any number of stationary applications. And if a TXD pump isn’t being used now, odds are it soon will be.
“We choose to go with Blackmer because they have had a lot of success in fuel-transport applications. We only have a couple other kinds of pumps in service only because they haven’t failed…yet. If we’ve purchased a truck with another type of pump on it, they always fail and then we replace them with a Blackmer,” said Shane Verge, Fleet Manager for Dennis K. Burke. “Why would you waste the time—which equals money in our business—and go with the knock-off pumps?”
“Without question, many of our customers, along with Dennis K. Burke, when they come to us to spec out a truck for the process of oil delivery, gas delivery or something similar, right away we’re thinking Blackmer and we’re going to recommend Blackmer,” added Trask. “Several years ago, Dennis K. Burke bought a host of stock vehicles off the lot and with that they had competitive pumps and they were having trouble with those pumps over and over again and they asked us what they should substitute in place and they chose to go with Blackmer. Unless they buy a truck off the lot, everything they request from us, we’re going to put a Blackmer pump on it.”
In addition to their reliable performance in the field, the TXD pumps are also easy to maintain and service. “Uptime is key and crucial in this business and you have to keep the product delivered,” said Verge. “The thing about Blackmer pumps is that they are very easy to work on. You just pull the cover off and look at the vanes to see if they are bad, pull the bad vane, replace it and put the pump back in service.”
Blackmer offers a warranty covering defects in materials and workmanship under normal use and service for 60 months after installation, or 66 months after shipment, whichever comes first. Customers can also choose a two-year Pump Assurance Program in which the company will replace any part (including worn parts) in a pump over the first two years of pump operation.
Dennis K. Burke didn’t get to where it is today by making haphazard choices of equipment. The performance that Blackmer TXD Series pumps deliver in diverse applications means they will continue to hold a hallowed place in Dennis K. Burke’s wide-ranging fuel- and liquid-handling operations.
“Over the years we’ve tried different configurations, different technologies and components, but we’ve found that the reliability of the Blackmer pumps can’t be touched. Never have. Never will. When we build new trucks we mandate that Blackmer pumps be included in that build,” said Burke.
Take a chance on a new business opportunity? Sure. Go down that road with a fleet or fluid-handling application that doesn’t feature Blackmer TXD Series Sliding Vane Pumps? Now that’s too risky!