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How 5 Small Firms Handle High Gas Prices

Lake Michigan Mailers; Kalamazoo, Mich.
David Rhoa of Lake Michigan Mailers, a document management and mail distribution company in the U.S., Canada and Great Britain, says that for every penny increase in gas prices, it costs the company about $50 in additional costs per day.

"It goes right to our bottom line," Rhoa says. "We're really an airport without airplanes."

Like the other business owners, Lake Michigan Mailers spends "a tremendous amount of time optimizing our service route," Rhoa says. "We're trying to run it as efficiently as possible. ... We want our trucks to be as full as we possibly can get them. We try to have as little overlap as possible."

Rhoa says that the company's fleet, a combination of Ford (F) Econoline Cargo Vans for large distributions and the more fuel-efficient Ford Transit Connects, are closely looked after and serviced frequently.

But like, Scholes at The Provider, Rhoa is intent on finding alternative-fuel vehicles such as electric cars. Unfortunately, it seems Rhoa is one step ahead of the times -- either a vehicle is not offered in small quantities or costs too much, Rhoa says.

Rhoa says he is interested in electric vehicles such as the Smith Newton Electric Truck, but the company company seems interested only in marketing to large distributors such as PepsiCo's (PEP) Frito-Lay.

The other problem is that electric cars do not have enough mileage range to get around Lake Michigan Mailers' distribution area before needing to be charged, Rhoa says. For the foreseeable future, it looks like traditionally fueled trucks will still be the main distribution vehicles.

"I run a small business and I can't get the numbers to work," he says.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.
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