Staff Photo: John Bohn Kris Beatty, a sales representative with Cannon Delivery, fills the gas tank of his SUV at a gas station in Duluth Tuesday morning.
BUFORD -- Any given day, close to 50 drivers at Cannon Delivery Service carry auto parts, pharmaceuticals, legal documents and other materials across the southeast. Like any other business it relies on certain basic rules for survival and prosperity.
By meeting deadlines and listening to the needs of its customers, the Buford business aims to maintain standards of customer service. Keeping prices at a competitive rate brings the clients back. But some factors the courier service cannot control -- like the price of gasoline.
Vice President Tina Sweat remembers years back, when gas prices hit $2 a gallon. "People were like, 'Oh my goodness,'" Sweat said. "We couldn't believe how high it was."
Tuesday, as prices continued to climb closer to $4 a gallon, Sweat talked about the ensuing strains on businesses as a whole. Meanwhile, people pumping gas in the Lawrenceville area fumed over the continued high cost of their commutes.
Kristin Brown of Duluth filled up at a local station, where gas was being sold for $3.77 per gallon. Brown said she was "about fed up" with the increasing cost of driving to and from work. "It's ridiculous. I can't afford my Denali anymore. I'm going to have to downgrade."
Brown said she was looking at buying a sedan to brace herself financially.
Much like commuters, businesses feel the distinct pain.
Sweat said the price of gasoline "affects our industry hugely as you can imagine, but what many people don't realize is that the price of everything goes up with the price of gas. If it has to be transported, the price goes up because it costs more to move it ... and that affects everyone."
The current situation, she said, is about as dire as she's ever seen it.
"It's pretty bad," Sweat said. "I was optimistic it wasn't going to get as bad as people were speculating. Hopefully, it won't get to the $5 a gallon mark, but we're planning and looking ahead in case it does."
She said a fee known as the fuel surcharge "has become a necessary evil." The fee is based on the extra percentage that it costs drivers to cart a client's product.
"We try to make it a reasonable percentage for the driver but at a reasonable price for the customer," she added.
Carlos Holland, a commuter working in Gwinnett County, said the unreasonably high cost of gas is "just one of those things."
"It is so utterly and completely out of my control. There's no sense in getting mad about something that's out of my control," said Holland, who drives a Toyota Camry to Atlanta and back every day.
Jessica Brady, a spokeswoman with the American Automobile Association, said as long as tensions remain with Iran, "we are going to see elevated gas prices."
"Not too much has changed from last week in terms of what's affecting the oil market and retail gas prices," Brady said. "President Obama and other world leaders still plan to enact further sanctions on Iran in hopes of preventing the country from developing nuclear weapons."
Brady said the national average for a gallon of regular retail gasoline is likely to reach $4 a gallon in April.
Georgia's current average for regular unleaded is $3.84 a gallon, while the national average is $3.92.
Sweat said she's hopeful that the forecasts aren't true, but Cannon Delivery Service will continue to make it work despite a painfully tough time for the courier industry.
"Hopefully, it's going to turn around," Sweat said. "We'll just keep doing the best we can until it does."