Marty Burr, the performance manager for the city of Rock Hills fleet vehicles, was stopped a recent meeting in Atlanta by an emphatic, I know you!
Burr assured the person that wasnt so.
The person persisted.
Yes, I know you, from the General Motors commercial and were building Rock Hill in our desert!
Burr had to say yes on both counts.
Yes, he is featured on one of Stories from the Road, part of GMs 360 effort to gets its message out via social media, online, print and through GMfleet.com and GMfleet You Tube.
And, yes, a brand new Rock Hill, minus the people and cars, will rise from the desert near Hobbs, N.M.. as a full-scale testing lab.
Burr is getting used to the double dose of fame.
The GM video starts with him relaxing in a rocker on the front porch of his home.
It shows the interior of his home, filled with photos and other memorabilia.
There are shots of him driving around town.
Other images include a Rock Hill water tank, the velodrome, City Hall, the operations center with its fueling center and garages, plus police at work. It makes Rock Hill seem as picture perfect as the town being built in the desert.
While he is the focal point of the video, Burr said the focus should be Rock Hills success using alternative energy to power its fleet of police cars, trash trucks, and other everyday vehicles.
Little sleepy Rock Hill, Burr said on the video, were very progressive.
The city has 267 GM vehicles that run on E85 fuel, a blend of ethanol and gasoline. The city quietly went to B20 biodiesel in 2004, and now pumps it into 114 diesel-powered vehicles and equipment. B20 is 20 percent biomass, usually soybeans or canola oil. The city has one Chevy Volt and 13 other smaller electric vehicles. Many of the large vehicles run on compressed natural gas.
What got the attention of GM and others is how much Rock Hill saves using alternative fuels. Last year the savings were $670,000. In 2010, the Palmetto Clean Fuel Coalition awarded its first Greenest Fleet honor to Rock Hill.
Burrs 15 minutes of fame took two days of shooting, from sun up to sun down all for the 2-minute, 33-second video. The schedule was OK with Burr, hes usually up by 5 every morning. He was surprised the crew of 25 people, spread out over eight vehicles, spent so much time at his home.
It was unbelievable. It was fun, Burr said. And it was little scary when the cameras zoomed in for close-ups, he said.
The 59-year-old Burr has worked for the city for 20 years. The city has used alternative fuels since 1995. But Burrs interest goes back to his teenage years. He had a gas-powered go-kart. He wondered how it would do on kerosene. Not as well, he found out.
Rock Hills first alternative-fuel vehicle was an electric-powered vehicle built in conjunction with York Technical College, he said. The fleet and types of alternative fuels used has steadily grown, he said.
The commercial has gained Burr more attention than he anticipated. So far, 12 different sets of visitors have come to see him, each wanting to know how the city did it, which fuels works best, and what does he recommend.
Burr said it all depends on the type of vehicle and its use.
Some decisions are easy to make, though. Trash trucks get about 4 miles to the gallon, regardless of the fuel type and consume up to 70 gallons a day, he said. With compressed natural gas (CNG) selling for $1.80 a gallon and diesel fuel at least twice that much, the city is slowly transitioning it garbage fleet to CNG. The upfront cost is higher by about $29,000 for a new engine and fuel tanks, but Burr said he makes than back in 18 months via lower fuel costs.
Its not only costs. Its also better for the environment and that combination is the reason the effort gets the full support of the city, said City Manager Dave Vehaun.
Or, as Burr said on the video, we are doing the right thing. Cleaning the environment and making it healthy for our kids.
Don Worthington 803-329-4066