By Steve Noe
Fittingly, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) chose “Dealer Day” — the first day of the recent Green Industry & Equipment Expo (GIE+EXPO) — to unveil a national ethanol education and consumer protection campaign called ‘Look Before You Pump.’ The timing was fitting because OPEI is going to need all of the help it can get from all of you OPE dealers to spread the word to consumers.
As you know, high-ethanol blends of gasoline can damage or destroy small engines in any outdoor power equipment because they are not designed to handle such blends. In fact, it is not only harmful, but also illegal to use higher than 10-percent ethanol gas in any outdoor power equipment.
However, many consumers are unaware of the consequences of using high-ethanol blends of gasoline in their outdoor power equipment. A recent OPEI/Harris Interactive study shows the vast majority of Americans (71 percent) are “not at all sure” if it is illegal or legal to put high-level ethanol gas (i.e. anything higher than 10-percent ethanol) into engines such as those found in mowers, chain saws, snowmobiles, generators, boats and other small-engine products, adding to the campaign’s sense of urgency.
The ‘Look Before You Pump’ campaign will reach consumers through radio and video public service announcements (PSA), fact sheets, in-store displays, labeling and product hangtags. A prominent, red warning hand indicating ‘OK’ for 10-percent ethanol and ‘No’ for mid-level ethanol blends (such as E15, E30, E85) is the campaign’s main graphic (pictured).
“Although there is continued uncertainty in the renewable fuels market, one thing for certain is that the way consumers select and use fuel will be changing in the coming years,” said Kris Kiser, president and CEO of OPEI.
“It is incumbent upon our industry to be proactive. We are cautioning American consumers and business owners whose livelihood depends on our equipment to be more mindful at the gas pump. Don’t assume that the gas you put in your car can still go in your mower, chain saw or generator.”
According to Todd Teske, chairman, president and CEO of Briggs & Stratton Corporation, the world’s largest manufacturer of small engines, and chair of OPEI’s board, “It is critical that we educate all users of outdoor power equipment about the dangers misfueling can cause to their equipment. Our number one goal is to protect our customers.”
OPEI urges consumers to read their equipment operating manual before filling their equipment with gasoline to ensure they use the right fuel for that engine. In addition, OPEI has created a Dealer Web Portal (www.tinyurl.com/EthanolEducation), where you can go to find a variety of resources and materials that you can use to inform your customers in the way that best fits your needs. These resources can help consumers minimize misfueling, which can lead to customer satisfaction issues.
OPEI invites dealers to visit www.tinyurl.com/EthanolEducation. After completing a simple registration process, you will find “print-on-demand” copies of the following:
The ‘Look Before You Pump’ Campaign Mark, which can be used on labels, packaging, fact sheets, and in brochures and ads;
Fact sheets for store employees and consumers;
A static-cling window decal;
Hangtags for product; and
Downloadable videos for in-store use.