Sharon Romano and her husband, Angelo, certainly aren't winning these days; in fact they're dangerously close to losing everything they've worked to build. As the owners of "Romano & Son Trucking," a business that has been in the family for nearly 40 years, they've been squeezed by the high price of fuel.
They have to pay a daily diesel bill that runs in the thousands of dollars in order to keep their 12 trucks on the road hauling asphalt for their clients. In the Phoenix area, where the Romanos live, diesel prices have jumped nearly 60 percent in just a year. It has wiped out their profits. Sharon remembers, "It seemed like overnight for me… I woke up one day and thought 'oh my God, how can we do this?'"
A friend told them that the cost of diesel fuel was about half the price in Mexico. Angelo thought, "Let's take a ride."
That ride, though, is roughly 180 miles and almost three hours to the border of Arizona and Mexico. That said, Angelo and Sharon say that purchasing less expensive fuel in Mexico may be the only way that they can hold on to their business. They worry that if they raise their prices there customers will go elsewhere. All of this is taking a toll on the family.
"I'm 40 years old and I'm just feeling miserable from the stress. Everything I worked for… could be taken away in months," Angelo said.
Family comes first for Angelo and Sharon, and they have an incredible spirit. Their determination comes though in everything they do. It's inspiring to see their positive attitude … but it's also heartbreaking knowing they're so close to the edge.
The Romanos desperately want to save their business and want make sure that what they're doing is legal. They're hired brokers, talked with consultants, and read as much as they can about brining fuel into the United States. They've worked to comply with regulations but have been frustrated with hours of questioning at the border and different concerns every time they do it.
When we were with them, they declared the fuel, paid their taxes and went through the channels as instructed at the border. Angelo says its nerve wracking, "It actually make(s) me feel like I'm doing something wrong… that's how bad they're making us feel to go across the border."
Through it all, the Romanos display incredible resolve. Angelo declares, "We will survive. We will. I worked this hard and I'm not going to let this go away."