It’s before sunrise and Cesar Fernández and his uncle Roberto, Repsol heating diesel distributors in Orense, are ready for work. They can’t be stopped by the cold, frost, or snow. Like all professional distributors throughout Spain, in these cold months, they know there are a lot of homes counting on them. In winter, the work days are more intense, and estimates suggest that the work volume increases by up to 50%.
Cesar has been distributing heating diesel for almost a decade. Over the years, he’s built such close relationships with the customers that he thinks of himself not as a supplier but as a neighbor helping other neighbors. He makes the most of the time it takes to fill the boiler tank to fill by talking to the customers: “We’re often the only people who’ve come to the town in months, and we become their link to the outside world.”
The center where he works, located in Vendas da Barreira (Orense), supplies the southern part of the province. His uncle Roberto has been in the business for over 20 years and knows the region like the back of his hand. “It’s a mountainous region, and the snow often makes distribution very difficult. We deliver the fuel to small towns that are sometimes hard to drive to.
This winter, snow levels have gone down to 700 m (2,300 ft), but last year was another story. Robert thinks back to the time an elderly woman found herself in a difficult situation in the town of Lamalonga. “We had problems getting to the house. We tried three times in one week. We were worried because she was running out of fuel and it wouldn’t stop snowing.”
After a lot of hard work and help from a tractor, they were finally able to supply the fuel. “The customer knew how much effort it took for us to get there, and she was very grateful. We do these things for them, they know it and they’re very loyal. We’re used to always making sure we get the product to our customers, even in bad weather,” he explains.
We’re used to always making sure we get the product to our customers, even in bad weather,” says Roberto, a Repsol heating diesel distributor.
Today, in Spain there are around 1,000 towns with less than 100 inhabitants. Belén lives in Orense, but her parents live in an isolated community and she knows what it’s like to live in places like Laza, A Veiga, and La Gudiña. When talking about the work Roberto and Cesar do, she affirmed that, on more than one occasion, they’ve gone above and beyond their job description to help others, and “without them, life out there would not be possible.” Many neighbors in the area agree. For them, the distribution of heating diesel is about more than just filling up the tank.
They show their support during every visit. “When we go out to distribute, people express their gratitude. Even when we aren’t delivering fuel to them, since the towns are very small, they’ll come up while you’re unloading and start to chat,” says Cesar. “You end up being friends with the customers.”