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Ozinga Launches Wind Energy Initiative

May 30, 2019

For the first time in company history, Ozinga is purchasing more than 6,000 megawatts of Illinois wind energy per year beginning this May. The new electricity supply contract will use Illinois wind to provide power to Ozinga locations throughout Illinois. The 6,000 MWH/ year of wind energy represents more than 25% of our electricity usage.

Due to the deregulated nature of Illinois’ electric markets we can sign contracts that lock in our energy rates for several years, minimize risk from price fluctuations, have a more consistent energy budget, and chose where the energy we purchase comes from. The renewable wind power Ozinga is purchasing through our new contract is the same price as any other power. After this current contract expires in 2021, we’re planning to expand our usage of green power.

Wind energy is one of the most cost-effective clean fuel sources available. It also boasts less than 2% of the levelized CO2 emissions per kWh than traditional coal plants. In fact, the amount of wind energy Ozinga is purchasing this year is equivalent to the energy required to power 740 homes or 10 million miles driven by an average passenger vehicle.

As part of Ozinga’s commitment to sustainable business practices, we also recently formed an Energy Efficiency Team composed of a dozen cowokers across the business who are generating new ideas, implementing future efficiency projects, and tracking progress. The team will be sharing an Energy Efficiency Statement later this year as a public commitment to sustainability.

Ozinga is committed to exploring new technologies that can benefit our communities. To learn how to become an Ozinga Energy Champion, visit energy.ozinga.com and learn more about the benefits of wind energy in the infographic below.

Wind Energy
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Ozinga has been in the compressed natural gas business since 2011. With more than 150 CNG mixer trucks and 50 support vehicles, it’s safe to say we know a lot about fleets and alternative fuels. But did you know we also specialize in CNG station repair and maintenance?

Our CNG maintenance technicians are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We know issues can arise at any time, and interruptions in service can be detrimental to your bottom line. Any emergency needs are responded to immediately.

Ozinga Energy focuses on a proactive maintenance procedure because your fleet can’t operate on a reactive maintenance plan. By creating a custom monthly and yearly schedule for maintenance, our technicians help prevent a breakdown by keeping track of which parts are at the end of life. These parts are swapped out based on this schedule—making sure your service is uninterrupted.

We can also tailor a maintenance plan for your needs and schedule. We know every fleet is unique, so Ozinga Energy works with each customer to give them exactly what they need. Several Ozinga Energy customers have weekly maintenance checkups – checking compressor pressure, oil levels, and health checks on nozzles and hoses to ensure everything is in tip-top shape. Some customers go longer between station check-ups. Whatever you need, we can deliver. To help you keep your business running and your fleet on the road, you have the option to receive automatic alerts about maintenance issues to your cell phone in real time.

The Village of Downers Grove, Illinois, has been an Ozinga Energy customer since 2015. When they first contacted us their CNG station had been down for two weeks and their maintenance provider was unreachable. Ozinga Energy was able to get them up and running the same day.

See our maintenance techs in action at Downers Grove in the video below.

Our company prides itself on the investment we make in our people, starting with the very first day of employment. Every Monday at Ozinga, we have a day-long onboarding session for new coworkers. During this experience, new coworkers are not only set up with all the administrative aspects of starting their career with us, but also learn about the values and history of our company in a personal and engaging way. Someone from the Ozinga family, often from the third and fourth generation of ownership, meets and talks with the new coworkers to share stories, discuss our future and answer questions. For me, this opportunity is one of the highlights of my week. I find it holds me accountable to see the new faces of our coworkers, look them in the eye, and share with them our commitment as a family.

The following are seven key points I share during onboarding:

  • Thank you and welcome. We know you have a choice of where you can work, particularly when the economic environment allows for such low unemployment. We’re thankful that you chose to come to work with us. Welcome aboard!
  • We’re different because you’re here. In a world of 7.5 billion people, there is only one you. You have unique talents, life experiences, work history and relationships. You have something unique to contribute to this company that only you bring. So not only are we different because you are here, we have new potential that we didn’t have before you arrived…and that is very exciting for us.
  • Here to stay. We are a 91-year-old, fourth-generation American family business. Our desire, Lord willing, is to stay in operation as a family business for another 91+ years. We have no interest in selling out. Rather, our goal is to provide a lasting impact in the lives of our coworkers, customers and communities for generations. Our commitment to you is that as we have success, we will reinvest in you, in equipment and facilities to better serve our customers and serve as a good partner in our local communities. It’s what we love to do.
  • We’re in this together. We are all the beneficiaries of those who have gone before us. We view ourselves as stewards or torch-bearers of the business for a finite period of time. We invite all our coworkers to share that vision as co-stewards with us. It is our desire to pass the torch to the next generation, leaving everything better than when we were entrusted with it. Business can be a force for great good in the world, impacting families and communities in a positive way. Together, we have a tremendous opportunity to leave a legacy that will positively impact future generations of people and the trajectory of our world.
  • We have room for improvement. This company may look like a well-oiled machine from the outside looking in, but once the “new” wears off it is certain you will find opportunities for improvement and change. In fact, because you are unique, you may see things that no one else sees. This is a good thing. Every day we want to get a little bit better than yesterday. With your help, we can do that.
  • You’re joining a great company in a great industry at a great time. Ozinga has established itself as a leader in our industry. This is because of our people. The building materials industry is a very exciting, dynamic, local relationship-focused one. No day is the same. It will be challenging and very rewarding for those who take great pride in it. It is a great time to join and the future is full of potential.
  • Be safe. We know behind every person, every coworker on our team, there are loved ones who count on them. We want to make sure all our people go home at night to them without accident or injury. Safety is a team effort that requires every individual to be aware of their surroundings, to make decisions thoughtfully and to err on the side of safety. As you join the Ozinga family of coworkers, if you ever see something that gives you pause, make sure to take the time to make the necessary and proper precautions. We appreciate each and every one of you – for choosing us, for bringing your unique skills and talents to our team, for helping us to constantly improve – and we want all of you to be safe so that we can continue that work together every day.

I like to believe that this time in our onboarding process helps us stand out from other companies because it shows we take the time to invest in our people and treat them as a part of the Ozinga family. And while I provide guidance and touch on these seven things during my talks with our new coworkers, I know that face-to-face time is equally valuable for me and for Ozinga – listening to and learning from each of our new coworkers, helping us to continue to push the boundaries.

Safety is a number one priority at Ozinga, so we’re passionate about keeping our vehicles in prime running condition to protect our drivers and get our customers what they need in a timely fashion. To that end, we’ve recently introduced Digital Fleet’s electronic Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIR) system at several of our Wisconsin, Florida, and Illinois plants to help identify vehicle operation and safety issues.

In September 2018, Digital Fleet released a software update that included the electronic Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports system. EDVIR allow drivers to complete and submit daily vehicle inspections via an in-vehicle tablet. The device electronically details pre-trip and post-trip inspections and sends a digital report directly to a mechanic’s email address.

“Customers were asking for the ability to capture vehicle inspection reports electronically—we listened and delivered,” said Tim Oakes, Digital Fleet President. “Using Digital Fleet allows our customers to see real-time information as it’s submitted by drivers; those issues can then be easily prioritized and worked on in an efficient manner.”

Ozinga used to track vehicle inspections and maintenance requests with a paper form. Drivers would conduct vehicle inspections and submit the paper form to the mechanic, but storing the forms for so many trucks became a logistical nightmare.

“Some of them (paper forms) get lost, they get wet, they get damaged . . . which is why doing it electronically like this is so important,” said Robert Davidsen, Mobile Device Supervisor at Ozinga.

The system is especially handy for Ozinga yards that don’t have a mechanic on-site. Now when their vehicles need maintenance, a mechanic is automatically notified once the driver fills out the EDVIR, and the vehicle can be fixed sooner.

“The big thing is it allows for two-way communication between drivers and mechanics,” added Davidsen. “And it keeps our records DOT-compliant.”

We hope to have the EDVIR system fully rolled out at all Ozinga locations by June 2019.

Let’s take a trip back into time to the late 1950s when gas was 30 cents a gallon, The Bridge on the River Kwai, South Pacific, and Ben Hur reigned at the box office, and Ozinga had only recently abandoned coal production and entered the concrete business.

At 95th Street and Troy Avenue in Evergreen Park stood a marvel of advertising technology: a 20-foot, double-sided backlit marquee sign. But instead of advertising sand, stone, or bags of cement, Martin Ozinga Jr. decided to use the marquee to showcase words of wisdom that caught people’s attention or made them think. “The idea of a marquee sign was kind of a new concept then. Of course there were no electronic message boards like we have now,” said Martin Ozinga III, former Ozinga president and current chairman of the board.

Eight to nine-inch plastic letters equipped with grooves to hook onto the sign’s metal bars were used to spell out homespun sayings that might inspire or put a smile on the faces of potential customers driving past the sign, including the gems below:

  • “The best thing you can spend on your children is time”
  • “One thing you can give and still keep is your word”
  • “You can’t win by trying to even the score”

One memorable update featured the message, “Don’t you dare look at the other side of this sign” on one side, with the other side bearing the old adage “Curiosity killed the cat.” Both sides of the sign were updated at least once a week, and it was a painstaking two-hour process where a 15-foot pole with a tweezer grip was used to remove the old letters and update both sides with new phrases.

The sign was an immediate hit. So much so that when Ozinga relocated its headquarters to 127th Street in Alsip, Illinois, in 1961, a new sign topped with the iconic red and white Ozinga truck was erected outside the new location. Throughout the years, the sign was updated with hundreds of sayings.

While the legendary Alsip location closed in 1996, we kept a record of all the sayings that ever appeared on the signs and we’re still using them to inspire our coworkers and visitors!

Each month, our graphic design team pairs several sayings with corresponding images that are then shared on our intranet, on TV screens throughout our office locations, and on our social media pages. At Ozinga we treasure our company’s history and the continued influence of previous Ozinga generations.

With nearly 1,700 compressed natural gas stations in the United States, and 41 additional stations planned for 2019, it’s clear that more and more companies are turning to CNG for their fuel needs. The clean, affordable fuel can provide impressive savings at a cost that’s more manageable than you may realize. If you’re thinking about purchasing a vehicle, or converting outright, we have a few facts that will make your decision easier.

Last year gasoline prices reached an average high of $4.49. Diesel wasn’t far behind at $3.89/gallon. Meanwhile, CNG fuel prices were steady at $2.11, delivering an average savings of 62%. CNG prices are even lower in some states.

CNG use is growing in popularity every day. If you use public transportation, chances are you’ve been on a CNG-powered vehicle already. More than 41% of public transit buses run on CNG. What’s more, 60% of new trucks on order will run on natural gas and the United States boasts more than 2,500 school buses powered by CNG across the country.

While the CNG conversion can be daunting, it’s more affordable than you think, and heavy-duty, high mileage fleets consume enough fuel for owners and operators to see a pay back in as little as 18–24 months.

Learn more about conversion costs and CNG use in the infographic below.

Ozinga has an experienced team of professionals to help you better understand the capabilities and value of compressed natural gas. If you’re interested in learning more, talk to one of our energy specialists today.

As gas and diesel prices soared in 2010, Ozinga began exploring compressed natural gas as an alternative fuel option. Rather than convert our fleet all at once, we chose to purchase a CNG vehicle and expand as we were able. A new CNG vehicle can be expensive, but fortunately, there are grants available to offset the costs.

Ozinga participated in natural gas roundtables and other educational events hosted by Clean Cities partners, including South Shore Clean Cities, Chicago Clean Cities, and Wisconsin Clean Cities. Clean Cities also helped connect Ozinga with natural gas advocates across the United States, and natural gas fueling system manufacturers to ensure Ozinga’s technicians had the proper certifications. Throughout the grant process, Ozinga also made sure we were following all the proper protocols at the federal, local, and state levels.

If you’re interested in pursuing a CNG grant, it’s important to prepare yourself before the grant process begins. Make a plan: Figure out what vehicles you’d like to replace, and which vehicles you operate that fit into the available grant categories. Apply as early as possible to increase your chances of securing a grant.

There are millions of dollars available in grant money to help companies reduce air pollution and make their businesses and communities greener. Ozinga can help assist you during the grant process and building/converting your fleet once your grant has been approved.

Ozinga bought our first compressed natural gas (CNG) truck in 2011. We were the first compressed natural gas provider in the Midwest and we now boast the largest CNG ready mix fleet in the United States. But if you aren’t an expert like we are, you might be wondering what is CNG? We’re here to answer all your questions.

WHAT IS CNG?

Compressed natural gas is an alternative fuel comprised mostly of methane and compressed to less than 1% of its volume at standard atmospheric pressure. This odorless, colorless, and tasteless fuel source is drawn from gas wells in conjunction with crude oil production.

In 2011 when we entered the market, gas and diesel prices were going through the roof. Diesel fuel was $4 plus while CNG fuel was available for less than $1. We were also looking for something that was healthier for our coworkers and the environment and seeking to establish a company energy policy for the future with a fuel source that is found in the United States and has an abundant supply. Natural gas was a good fit.

We currently have a fleet of roughly 170 CNG mixer trucks and 50 support vehicles.

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF USING CNG?

CNG is an affordable and abundant fuel found in the US that is not governed by worldwide petroleum production.

What’s more, natural gas vehicles burn 90% cleaner than current EPA standards and emit 21% fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Ozinga is currently looking into using renewable natural gas (methane) taken from landfills and dairy farms. With renewable natural gas, greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by 125%!

WHAT ARE THE DRAWBACKS?

The only drawback to using CNG is that there are limited places to fuel up. Ozinga has public fueling stations throughout Indiana and Illinois. We are looking to build one in South Bend, Indiana soon.

With enough natural gas reserves in the US alone to last 100-200 years, compressed natural gas is an excellent choice for your company that will power your fleet for years to come.

Ozinga can help you convert you current fleet to CNG or build a new fueling station at your facility.

As part of Ozinga’s commitment to leave the world a better place than we found it, we’re aiming to expand our use of electric vehicles (EVs) and increase the number public charging stations throughout our communities.

We purchased our first electric vehicle in 2015 with the help of a grant and have added four more in the years since. We also currently operate two charging stations in Mokena, IL and Gary, IN that are open to the public. So far, we’ve avoided 588 kg of greenhouse gas emissions. That’s equivalent to planting 15 trees and letting them grow for ten years!

Moving forward, Vice President of Fleet Management Jeff Bonnema is interested in purchasing more electric and fuel-efficient vehicles.

“Ozinga is committed to the use of alternative-fueled vehicles and equipment in our operations,” Bonnema said. “We will continue to explore new technologies and innovations in the area of alternative fuel so that we can maximize our fleet efficiency while minimizing our carbon footprint. As we continue to grow we will use EVs as one of many viable options for our fleet.”

Ozinga also specializes in compressed natural gas (CNG), offering both fueling and station solutions. From converting your current fleet to developing and maintaining a CNG station, we can help provide you with the alternative fuel solutions you’re looking for.

When building a CNG fueling station, four easy steps can help you to improve your fleet, save money, and play a part in saving the environment.

1. HAVE A GAME PLAN.

The first thing to consider is if you have the proper utility services. Check to see if gas and electric services are available to you or if you need them upgraded. Next, contemplate your needs: Do you require a time-fill or fast-fill fueling station? Is the station just for your fleet or other fleets as well? Is the location of your station accessible to large vehicles? Having a plan before finding a provider will facilitate communication, avoid miscommunication, and help you to have a seamless building experience.

2. FIND THE RIGHT PROVIDER.

Your building partner defines your experience. Make sure whoever you chose has experience in building different types of stations and can properly assess your needs and game plan. A provider that caters to you and your team with regular training is also essential, as technology is always changing and improving. Your partner should provide timely maintenance, respond to service calls, and replace equipment as needed so that your experience is as easy as possible.

3. GET THE RIGHT SYSTEMS.

If you have the right plan and provider, next you’ll need the right systems. No two CNG fueling stations are alike and every fleet has different needs. The right systems and equipment will help to optimize your fueling station and seamlessly serve your fleet and others. Important systems include compressor systems, storage systems for compressed natural gas, time-fill or fast-fill dispensing systems, monitoring systems, and point of sale systems to make your station convenient and accessible.

4. PRACTICE SAFETY.

Even though CNG is safer than traditional fuels because it has a lower chance of combustion, don’t forget to practice safety on the job. When constructing your CNG fueling station, make sure your provider understands building codes and safety requirements.

Once your fueling station is built and ready to operate, don’t forget about your own safety. Pay attention and listen to the instructions your provider presents. When filling up your vehicle, turn off the engine and don’t smoke by the fueling station. Familiarize yourself with the location of fire extinguishers and emergency shutoffs at your location, in case of emergency.

Following these four easy steps will help you to streamline your CNG fueling station construction experience and allow you to fully enjoy your green, money-saving, efficient fleet.