Tim Williford (Southern Piping Co.) testified on behalf of the PHCC-NA and urged Congress to act quickly to address the constant rise in the fuel costs ... (view a YouTube video of Williford's testimony)

Small businesses across the country are being hit hard by rising gas prices and the declining state of the economy, says the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors―National Association. “As the backbone of our country’s economy, Congress should take notice of the impact that rising gas prices are having on small, family-owned businesses,” the organization said in a statement.

On April 15, Tim Williford, a small business owner with Southern Piping Co. (Wilson, NC), testified on behalf of PHCC’s 4,100 members ― most of which are small businesses ― and urged Congress to act quickly to address the constant rise in the fuel costs.

Williford, who also serves as chairman of PHCC’s Government Affairs Committee, said that the rise in fuel prices has made it increasingly difficult to remain profitable. “At Southern Piping Co. we spent about $1 million for gas and oil products last year. For 2008, we believe those costs are going to increase by 20 percent to 40 percent, or between $250,000 and $500,000. As you can see, even a small change in the price of gas can have a significant impact on our budget. Indeed, we know that for every rise of 10 cents in the price of gasoline, we will incur an additional $35,000 in overhead.”

He told Congress that, according to a PHCC member survey, contractors overwhelmingly believe the high prices are negatively affecting their business. To minimize the effect of the rising fuel costs, Williford said contractors are evaluating every means to reduce gasoline consumption, including consolidating transportation to jobsites, using smaller vehicles, and reducing the number of vehicles on the road. 

Although surcharges may have been an option in the past, most contractors believe that this is not a viable solution right now because consumers are also feeling financial pressure because of increasing fuel costs. 

“Gasoline and other petroleum products enable small businesses to remain the backbone of the economy,” Williford concluded. “As gasoline prices climb ever higher, the fortunes of America’s small businesses grow more dim, and with them, the fortunes of the economy as a whole.” The majority of businesses in the United States are small family-owned businesses, and thus are the most likely to suffer during times of economic strain and rising gas prices.  

See Williford give his statement to Congress via this YouTube video.