Gault Energy leans on diversity to leverage propane

May 2, 2013 By    

Few companies in the propane industry have histories that span more than a century. Propane’s history, after all, dates back just a hair over 100 years itself.

But just because propane celebrated its centennial only a year ago doesn’t mean modern companies can’t predate the birth of propane. Gault Energy, a 150-year-old Connecticut company that ventured into the propane business just five years ago, is one retailer with such a unique, storied history.

The first of Gault Energy’s businesses, which launched in 1863, consisted of freight hauling to and from a train station and doing odd jobs. The Gault family got involved in coal later in the 19th century, and heating oil entered the company’s portfolio in the 20th century – long before propane became a business unit in the 21st century.

“We pride ourselves on listening to our customers,” says Sam Gault, the company president who represents the fifth generation of the family business. “They were saying for many years, ‘Why are you not in the propane business?’ We looked into it and launched into it in 2008.”

Gault’s vision for his company is for it be an HVAC supplier first and a company that delivers the corresponding energy sources as a secondary function.

“We look at ourselves as more of a fuel-neutral company,” Gault says. “We’re not as concerned about whether we’re delivering heating oil, propane or natural gas. We’re more concerned about what is the best solution for the customer.”

Two areas on which Gault Energy focuses its propane delivery are pool heating and generators. The company launched into propane generators immediately following Hurricane Sandy last October. Gault believes generators are a big opportunity for propane.

One advantage Gault Energy has in its area is its connection to contractors. Because the company is also involved in masonry supply, its target customer in that business unit is small contractors and builders.

“We’ve been able to leverage our relationships with a lot of new homebuilders and have propane put in as a heat source,” Gault says.

He’s also extremely proud of his company’s 150-year history.

“We feel extremely fortunate to be able to say that we are 150 years old and we’ve been able to continue with the business for that many generations,” Gault says. “We’re very thankful to the previous generations.”

TEAM: Among the company’s team leaders are, pictured above from left, Propane Manager Andy Dehler, President Sam Gault, Vice President Jim Donaher, driver Joe Engel and Chairman Bill Gault.

LOCATION: Westport, Conn.

FOUNDED: 1863; established propane business in 2008

EMPLOYEES: 105, including 12 exclusive propane employees

CUSTOMERS: About 3,250 in propane

PROPANE SALES: 1.3 million annual gallons

ONLINE: www.gaultenergy.com

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is the senior editor of LP Gas Magazine. Contact him at kyanik@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3724.

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