Candy, chips and utility infrastructure?

They have more in common than meets the eye

With a wife who is a fitness instructor, Steve Resnick has some “interesting” conversations at home about his third-generation, family business – which sells candy, tobacco and thousands of other products to convenience stores in New Jersey, seven other states and the District of Columbia.

“We run a fast-paced, 24-hour operation six days per week,” said Resnick, president and CEO of New Brunswick-based Resnick Distributors. “We carry more than 6,000 items in warehouse on average and keep only seven days of inventory, so it’s very quick turnover and there’s a lot of technology used to make that happen correctly.”

In fact, Resnick’s business is one of the top 20 in the country for his industry, also supplying grocery stores, pharmacies, gift shops and more. He said one of the last things he needs is an interruption in his electric or gas service that could cost the company upwards of six figures per day.

“Electric and gas infrastructure is essential to our business. When Hurricane Irene hit, we didn’t have a generator and were without power for five days. It was devastating. So we had a generator by the time Sandy hit,” Resnick recalled.

Yet, like many businesses, Resnick said he does not have a backup plan for heating if PSE&G can’t deliver gas for his operation.

“I really hadn’t even thought about an industrial-scale backup because I just expect to have heating,” Resnick said. “I’m thinking about it now.”

Anthony Fuhrman, PSE&G’s manager for gas asset strategy, said business customers like Resnick and residential customers would be better protected under a plan PSE&G proposed in July to continue modernizing its electric and gas delivery systems, making them more reliable and resilient. A component of Energy Strong II will add redundancy to the natural gas system in case one of the five major gas pipelines that serve New Jersey has an issue that disrupts natural gas supply.

“The proposal is designed to improve our system reliability in the event of a pipeline loss of supply, known as curtailment,” Fuhrman said. “It enables us to bring natural gas to the areas affected by that curtailment.”

In fact, there was such a curtailment in April through October of 2016, yet it had minimal effects on PSE&G customers because it happened during a time of year when natural-gas demand is low. Had the disruption crept into November, Fuhrman said PSE&G would have followed a tiered system to cut back on supply – first to voluntary businesses, next to other businesses and finally to residential customers.

Resnick said the proposed plan would give business owners and residents alike peace of mind. He acknowledged that some people grumble at the idea of infrastructure improvements because they involve construction and create traffic, inconveniences he’s accustomed to as an owner of a fleet of trucks and a distribution network.

“Just like you need roads, utilities are part of the infrastructure and it’s up to everyone to make sure they’re maintained,” Resnick said. “You live with the inconvenience with the knowledge that what replaces the old improves everyone’s quality of life.”

Resnick, who studied finance at George Washington University, said he and his family happened to be vacationing in Italy recently when a major bridge collapsed there – serving as a reminder of just how important infrastructure maintenance and improvements are.

Resnick Distributors, which started in Plainfield in the 1940s before expanding to New Brunswick, was purchased by his grandfather in 1967 and led by his parents until he took the helm in 2013.

“This is a tough business. You really have to want to do it,” Resnick said, “But I’ve worked here in some capacity since 1992 and I always have my eye to the future. For instance, we’ve had solar since 2012.”

Resnick said it’s expensive to do business in New Jersey but being located in the middle of his distribution network is ideal, so he’s happy to learn about infrastructure investments that would benefit his business, the environment and New Jersey’s economy.

“When things are underground, you take them for granted,” Resnick said. “Somebody has to pay attention and I am thankful that PSE&G is doing just that.”

 

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