5 Small Businesses Lifted by High Gas Prices
This story was originally published May 15, 2011. It has been updated to include the latest news on oil.
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- After a brief interlude of gas prices falling to less mind-boggling heights (but still over $3 a gallon), prices across the U.S. are surging once again.
This past weekend threat by Iran to cut off many of its biggest European customers has returned oil to the world's top economic concerns.
|As gas prices rise again, a few small businesses win by offering ways to ease the burden.|
It can mean only one thing: rising prices at U.S. pumps once again, with some parts of the country surpassing $4 a gallon gas in the next few weeks and moving even higher this summer.
The gas price pain hurt almost everyone. Cynthia Magnuson, spokeswoman for the National Federation of Independent Business, says energy costs are having a negative impact on members across the board.
"Even those that might run businesses that try to minimize use of gasoline are really not immune to the rising prices," she says. "A bike shop owner needs his or her products delivered via a gas-guzzling vehicle."
Rising fuel prices hit small businesses particularly hard because they tend to absorb increases rather than pass them on to customers as larger companies do, the NFIB says.
That said, we found five small companies where sales are up as a result of high gas prices:
1. Junction Networks in Newton, Pa.
Rising gas prices has caused more than a few employees to work from home at least part of the week to cut down on commuting expenses. That's where Junction Networks comes in.
The Newton, Pa.-based company provides Voice over Internet Protocol platforms to small and medium-sized businesses. One of the more well-known names in the VoIP space is Vonage(VG) , which provides telephony services primarily to residential customers, but also to small businesses.
"We've just seen a big increase in people looking to work from home," says Mike Oeth, CEO of Junction Networks. "Gas prices are definitely a part of it, prices in childcare and day care, after-school care -- those prices have gone up."
Junction Networks' primary product is onSIP, a subscription-based service that can host a small business' entire communications platform. Employees can make outbound calls through their desk phone, home phone or mobile phone and the outgoing number will be the same business number. Incoming calls get routed to one number, but to a phone the owner selects.
The system "brings all these sophisticated phone features and makes them available to small and medium-sized businesses, allows them to look larger and be just as effective if they're in one office or spread out all over the place," Oeth says.