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Local gas station owner on high gas prices: “We make a lot less per gallon”

Posted at 5:50 AM, Mar 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-18 08:50:30-04

Gas prices are through the roof, literally, having broken new record highs nearly every day over the last three weeks. You might think gas station owners are making a quick buck, but one local owner tells us, that’s the opposite of what’s actually happening.

“There’s nobody really gouging right now. It’s just a matter of supply,” said Don Pommerville, owner of Pommerville Automotive and Gas in Lompoc.

He says he’s been in business for more than three decades.

“We’ve had our ups and downs. We’ve had our good times and our bad times. It’s just another rock in the road,” said Pommerville.

According to AAA, gas prices have gone up more than $1 per gallon over the last month (that’s true for both San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties), making your pocketbook a little thinner with every fill-up. That poses the question: who’s making that extra $15 for every 15 gallons you pump?

“I don’t know. There’s gotta be someone profiting, but I also think the supply chain is just costing more money right now,” said Central Coast resident, Alex Lillenberg.

“The misnomer we have is that we’re making all this money on gas; gas companies, oil companies, and us independent dealers,” said Pommerville. “When prices skyrocket like that, dealers actually make a whole lot less money.”

Pommerville says gas station owners don’t reap many rewards when an international gas crisis occurs for a couple of reasons.

“Number one, there’s a lot less margin in the gas because it’s so expensive, and we have to stay competitive because the prices are so high. We have to try and keep it low. We make a lot less money per gallon,” said Pommerville. “Number two, people aren’t driving as much, so we sell a lot less gas.”

According to Pommerville, like any business model, a profit of some kind is a must to stay afloat.

“That’s what drives the price up. Supply and demand,” said Pommerville. “If you have less cars to sell, then you have to make more profit per car to afford to operate your business.”

Pommerville says being frugal while managing a business is key, especially in times like these.