Rhonda and Gary Giesel are retiring as bulk fuel distributors after 39 years of owning and running the business that's been in the Giesel family since 1953.
Rhonda and Gary Giesel are retiring as bulk fuel distributors after 39 years of owning and running the business that's been in the Giesel family since 1953. Alana Calvert

Chinchilla fuel family finally hangs up the pump

WEDNESDAY was the end of an era for one Chinchilla business with Rhonda and Garry Geisel, the owners of South State Fuel, hanging up the fuel pump after 63 years.

Bought by Garry’s late father Tibby Geisel in 1953, the family business was taken over by the couple shortly after their marriage in 1977.

“It’s been a big part of our lives,” Mrs Geisel said.

“When we were first married – we were married when we got the business – it was very busy. It was constantly busy. As it’s gone on, the big regulators have come along and it has slowed down a bit.”

The couple said the business had been good to them in those 39 years and they enjoyed being able to help customers in ways only a small business could, but there were many sacrifices too.

Namely, holidays were few and far between while the long hours and being always on call meant Mr Geisel missed many of his kids’ sport games and social events when a farmer in the middle of harvesting needed a fuel delivery.

“I think we’re just appreciative that people have stuck by us over the years. Gave us a go. They appreciated the service we give and stuck by us,” Mr Geisel said.

Speaking to the Chinchilla News last Thursday, Mrs Geisel said their last day, which was yesterday, would be a sad one for her husband.

Besides the special services they offered through being available all the time to their customers and supplying smaller fuel quantities, the Geisels felt their other legacy would be their unwavering honesty.

“Garry has given really good service to customers. He has never ripped them off. We’ve always maintained our sense of honesty. I think that’s a very important thing in business. And the customer appreciates it,” Mrs Geisel said.

The couple had tried to make it to their 40-year anniversary of running the family business before retiring, but with Mr Geisel needing a knee replacement, they decided now was the right time.

“I’ve always said I’d give it up when whatever wore out first – whether it be me or the truck – and I think I just beat it,” he said.

“It might’ve been cheaper than your knee,” Rhonda quipped with a laugh.

“The old truck just potters along, it’s not a fast truck. Probably people on the road will be pleased to see him go because he goes along at about 60-70km an hour.”

But South State Fuel’s other long-term mainstay, a 78-year-old cockatoo that barks like a dog whenever there’s a visitor, doesn’t seem to be experiencing the same effects of aging.

“He looks pretty good for his age. We used to call him the depot watchdog. When someone would come to the depot he would bark to let us know,” Mr Geisel said.

“He’ll probably outlive me.”


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