Tank Wizards Keeps Engines (and Life) Running With Clean Fuel
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Tank Wizards Keeps Engines (and Life) Running With Clean Fuel

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Photo by Jason Hook

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Photo by Jason Hook

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Photo by Jason Hook

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Photo by Jason Hook

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Photo by Jason Hook

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Photo by Jason Hook

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Photo by Jason Hook

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Photo by Jason Hook

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Photo by Jason Hook

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Photo by Jason Hook

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The much-used adage of “cleanliness is next to godliness” is particularly applicable to diesel and petroleum tanks, where clean tanks mean clean fuel. 

What’s the big deal with clean fuel? Well, dirty fuel causes engines to fail, and when those engines are powering up backup generators at a water treatment plant, everything shuts down and homes have no water. If fuel-related engine failure prevents hospitals, firehouses and nursing homes from having power, it could make a life-or-death difference for a patient. 

“It only takes a small amount of debris to shut down an entire system,” said Wendall Stroderd, owner of Tank Wizards. He is one of the few professionals in Florida who specializes in the critical niche market of tank cleaning and fuel polishing.

From offices in Brevard and Lake counties, Tank Wizards serves hospitals, emergency facilities, municipalities, transportation fleets and gas stations throughout Florida and Georgia, and as far away as Texas.

“Mostly, we clean tanks in critical needs applications such as backup power generators, flood control pumps and emergency response fuel sites,” Stroderd said.

The company also cleans fuel tanks and provides fuel quality assurance for enterprises that range from aerospace companies and heavy equipment contractors to marine facilities at Port Canaveral and neighborhood gas stations.

The need certainly exists for Tank Wizards, as plenty of microorganisms are ready to set up a home and thrive in hydrocarbon fuels. That was not the case decades ago, when high levels of sulfur in diesel vanished the population of these unwanted residents. To meet strict emission standards, diesel and gasoline are now blended with ethanol and other biofuels that don’t have the built-in microorganism fighting agents of yore.

Diesel fuel now begins to degrade in six months, and today’s engines cannot operate with compromised fuel.

“The single most common reason diesel engines fail is fuel issues,” Stroderd said.

Add the fact that regulatory watchdog agencies require fuel testing as part of emergency preparedness, and it is easy to see why customers depend on Stroderd’s company for expert fuel tank cleaning, fuel filtration and fuel maintenance services. 

The proprietary processes Stroderd developed are also kind on the environment.

“We’re a green company,” he said. “We take fuel that would have otherwise had to be disposed of and rebuild it and turn it into usable fuel again. Fuel tank cleaning and fuel polishing in combination are more cost-effective and ecologically sound than fuel disposal and replacement.” 

Jason Hill, service manager at LJ Power, has used Tank Wizards for jobs in both Florida and Texas.

“As a power generation company, it is imperative that we maintain our customers’ fuel year-round,” he said. “Wendall and the crew at Tank Wizards are our go-to guys for anything fuel related. They are unparalleled when it comes to knowledge and quality of work.”

In 2022, Tank Wizards was named among the GrowFL Top Companies to Watch. Companies to Watch was developed by the Edward Lowe Foundation as a unique way to recognize and honor second-stage companies that demonstrate high performance in the marketplace with innovative strategies and processes.

“These are some of the most vibrant and dedicated entrepreneurs in our state,” said GrowFL founder, Dr. Tom O’Neal. “They are the champions that keep our communities strong by stimulating the economy, keeping the workforce employed, and giving back in ways that will change the course of our state for years to come.”

Stroderd’s journey into entrepreneurship began more than half a century ago, when at age 10, he and his 12-year-old brother began assisting his brick mason uncle with his one-man business on weekends.

“He was able to build a successful business that supported his family and the families of his crew all the way into retirement,” Stroderd said. 

Another role model was Stroderd’s grandfather, a master plumber and electrician who built a business successful enough to put all five of his children through private school.

The work ethic lessons learned from these two relatives, coupled with Stroderd’s desire to captain his own career, has served him well as president of Tank Wizards. Stroderd’s chemical sales background introduced him to the dilemma fuel treatment customers faced.

“Chemicals kill the microbacteria in tanks, but don’t remove it,” he explained. “It corrodes the tank and then the tank fails.”

Tank Wizards grew from Stroderd’s experience in the fields of fuel, industrial chemicals and hydraulic equipment. He apprenticed with a friend who ran a similar tank-cleaning company. 

“Back then, there were only two competitors in the country,” Stroderd said.

That was then. These days, Stroderd faces new competition on a weekly basis.

“They don’t usually last,” he said. “We see a lot of people who think they can go out and clean tanks with a broken-down boat trailer and a 12-volt pump.”

Stroderd not only developed processes, he even created the equipment.

“We have designed and fabricated all the tank cleaning rigs and we’re continually modifying them,” he said. 

Stroderd treasures his team, which he has trained from the ground up. 

“There are no schools to teach what we do, so I need to find the right people and start them from scratch,” he said. “It takes about two years for someone to be fully trained. The culture at Tank Wizards is that of a group of craftsmen.”

The working culture Stroderd adheres to has developed a strong team spirit. When he told his employees about the GrowFL honor, Stroderd was surprised that all were eager to attend the black-tie awards ceremony. 

“For these guys to be proud enough to put on a tux and show up at that type of event told me it really meant something to them,” he said.

As hurricane season approaches, Stroderd and his team will be clocking in hundreds of miles to make sure critically needed facilities are ready to weather the storms.

“During times of emergency, we make sure first responders are able to respond,” he said. “It’s really a public service.”

Gold Standard

Since 1916, the not-for-profit Steel Tank Institute has been a creator of cutting-edge storage tank technology and has served as the go-to consultant for government and third-party agencies.

“They are the gold standard,” said Wendall Stroderd, owner of Tank Wizards. “They are the gurus.”

Tank Wizards construction foreman Billy Palmer is among an elite few to have earned SP001 inspector certification from the Institute. The Steel Tank Institute’s SP001 Inspection Standard deals directly with above-ground storage tanks.

While groups such as the 45th Space Wing have in-house SP001-certified personnel on staff, these individuals are rare among commercial petroleum services businesses, even though more and more municipalities are requiring that their tanks meet STI certification.

“To my knowledge, Billy is only the third person in the state of Florida to do this in a commercial setting,” said Stroderd, who has supported his staff’s continuing education and certification efforts since he launched his company.

To earn SP001 inspector certification, Palmer had to meet education and industry experience standards and successfully complete a comprehensive course on metallurgy, plumbing and other aspects of the industry.

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