From a Barn to the World: An interview with Aaron Sage, co-owner of Sage Oil Vac
Sage Oil Vac is a family-owned business based in the Texas Panhandle. Gary Sage invented an oil vacuum system that put him ahead of his competitors, allowing him to change the oil in his irrigation system in a cleaner and faster way. Aaron Sage, Gary’s son and co-owner of Sage Oil Vac, shared with us how the family took the company from a small business in a barn to an international oil vacuum manufacturer.
Can you tell us about the beginning of Sage Oil Vac?
The company was officially formed in 1995 by my mom and dad. There are two stages to the business of Sage Oil Vac. From 1995 to 2002, Sage Oil Vac was kind of like a secondary business, as my dad’s farming was his primary focus. He would build units in the same barn where he had his farm equipment. Then in 2002, he decided to make it a full-time business and devoted more resources into it; that’s when I joined the business. At that point, we really made an effort to grow the company, devote resources to it, and that’s when our relationship with the WT Enterprise Center really took shape.
How much did WTEC contribute to the growth of your business?
When we started our relationship with the WT Enterprise Center, we were a very small business. Although my parents had been building the systems and selling them for 7 or 8 years, they were building maybe 10 or 15 units a year if it was a good year. That was a very small revenue business. When we started our relationship with WTEC, we basically were going to them to ask for advice on how to make a part-time business a full-time business. We went to them for every piece of business advice they had: marketing, sales strategy, accounting, software, banking relationships, etc. We asked, “How do we take this from a small business to a business that we have the vision to get our equipment in front of anybody who wants to use it in North America?”
How do you set Sage Oil Vac apart from your competitors?
Our unique proposition with our equipment is that we don’t use pumps. We build vacuums in the tank and that is what draws the oil from the equipment. Then for fresh oil delivery, we don’t use a pump either; we put oil in the tank. We pressurize the tank, and that’s what dispenses the oil. So that’s our unique selling proposition in the market. We build mobile oil change units, so anybody that has to do oil changes in the field can make that oil change cleaner and faster.
Is your market only in the Texas Panhandle?
No, this is a worldwide market. There are a number of people in North America building mobile oil change trucks, and we are competing with them, so we ship all over the U.S. We also export to different countries. We have a very good distributor in Australia, so we ship equipment to Australia often.
Do you consider WTEC a good asset for the community?
I do! They have a number of programs that are suited for different companies in different stages of growth. There are programs for companies that have been established recently that are looking for mentoring. They have programs for the tech side of businesses, which is a valuable resource.