8 Qualities of a Great Class A/B Operator

June 8, 2011

What make a good tank operator great?

If you’ve read Jim Collins business book “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t,”  you’ll know there are interesting studies out there to determine what makes an average company into a rock star company.

We like to think most companies out there are committed to a path of continual business improvement – they plan on being around in 20 years and are constantly analyzing and improving operations in order to remain competitive.

The same logic can apply to a Class A/B operator.Here is a list of qualities we see as critical to qualify as great. Does this apply to you or your staff?

1. Organized.
A great operator keeps records of everything pertaining to the UST system in one centralized location that is easily accessible and in good reading order. A great operator knows the challenge is not only having the right leak detection equipment, but also being able to prove leak detection is being done properly and can prove it through good records.

2. Knowledgeable.
A great operator knows exactly what type of UST system he or she is in charge of. If asked, the operator can say something like “I’ve got two 12,000 gallons STIp3 double wall tanks, pressurized double wall fiberglass piping with sump sensors, mechanical line leak detectors and flapper valves.” That operator is way ahead of the neighboring site operator who doesn’t have a clue what might be underground.

3. Responsive.
A great operator takes no signal or warning sign for granted. If there is slow flow, if there is a tank gauge alarm, if sump is full of liquid, the great Class A/B operator knows to investigate pronto. The great operator also knows that the sooner you respond, the cheaper the clean up bill, if a leak is confirmed.

4. Cautious.
A great operator understands that petroleum blends are changing and is on the lookout for signs that alternative fuels may adversely impact their UST system. Because of possible incompatibility issues with modern fuels and older tank systems, the great operator does thorough research and makes informed decisions before changing fuel types.

5. Proactive.
A great operator know how risky spill buckets can be and takes the time to do routine inspections of the sidewalls and bottom of the spill buckets, even if it’s not required. Then he or she takes the time to develop an oily water storage and disposal plan.

6. Skilled.
A good operator knows they have a tank monitor but a great operator knows how to run it. The difference between knowledge of something and the skill and experience to engage the knowledge cannot be overstated enough. A great operator knows his or her tank monitor inside-out or has someone onsite who does.

7. Thorough.
A great operator knows having a functioning tank monitor isn’t enough; it must be able to ensure the third party certification conditions are met. This means that the leak test is not just done but it is valid. If the throughout is too high, if the tank is too big, if the tank is nearly empty, the test result may or may not be valid and the tank may or may not be leaking.

8. Experienced.
Most points above are qualities that UST operators have or can acquire but the truth is, great operators don’t happen overnight. For those in the industry for years, great operators are those who stick around and learn from their mistakes.

Historically the Class A/B operator hasn’t been recognized for the important job he or she does in protecting the environment and the business. Now that the Class A/B classification is becoming a nationally recognized title, we hope that more emphasis will be put on making great operators and not just simply having good ones.

If you are a UST owner needing to hire a Class A/B operator, use this list to consider your candidates.
If you are an existing Class A/B operator and want to increase your status from good to great, consider these qualities.

See all: News


  1. Bob DeNinno says:

    Good stuff. I think another important quality of a great operator is to be a great trainer who ensures his/her employees (Class C Operators) are well informed and understand how important they are to the operation of the business.

    1. Ben Thomas says:

      Hi Bob. Thanks for the insight. Like “teach someone to fish” rather than hand them the fish. Will incorporate that thought into future material.