Apropane-powered service van, a modernized showroom and a new website mark a few investments Active Enterprises has made in the past several years.
“I would say in the last three years, we’ve implemented a few major changes,” says Stephan Dodson, manager at Active Enterprises. “We’ve grown tremendously. It’s been exciting to watch everything grow.”
The Long Beach, Washington-based retailer started as a small Petrolane facility in the mid-1960s. It transitioned into an AmeriGas facility in the 1970s until 1987 when owner Dale Jacobson bought it to form Active Enterprises, an independent retailer.
“It’s been Active Enterprises ever since,” Dodson adds. “We’ve been growing and growing since then and branched out to do more service work, installations and anything gas.”
Active Enterprises currently serves about eight counties in Washington, but it hopes to expand to serve communities in northern Oregon. The company received a license to work in the state earlier this summer. Although crossing over to work in another state could prove to be difficult, Dodson noticed a growing business community popping up in Clatsop County, Oregon, just miles from the border. He hopes the retailer will someday launch a second location there.
“We’re right on the border but never served in Oregon,” he says. “It’s more of a natural gas state, so the company never wanted to go over there. It’s a small town there, but it has been an expanding community. I thought we should be a part of that growth.”
With the growth in business, Active Enterprises has invested in its fleet and marketing tools this past year. The retailer purchased a 2012 Ford E-150 service van equipped with a Roush CleanTech propane system earlier this year with a goal to integrate more propane-powered vehicles to its fleet.
“It’s a lot more economical for us to use propane vehicles,” Dodson says. “We figured when we bought this van that if we had to finance it and make payments on it that it wouldn’t be a problem since we’re saving on gas. We can also service it in-house.”
The company also made improvements to its showroom, which Dodson called unorganized, inconsistent and in need of attention.
“We had fireplaces sitting out in the showroom, but they weren’t hooked up,” he says. “And sometimes there wasn’t a display. It just looked terrible.”
Dodson encouraged the owner to remodel the showroom to make it more welcoming to customers. Although it cost a little more than anticipated and took time, the end result was worth the effort.
In addition to cleaning up the look of the facility, Active Enterprises hired a company to revamp its website a few months ago to improve its marketing efforts. It also started a Facebook page in order to keep connected with community members while the website is under construction.
“We needed to take the website down to make something that’s more professional,” Dodson adds. “And we started doing Facebook, which has helped our business. We avoided it since social media can be good or bad, but so far it’s had a positive impact.”
Founder: Wilbur Jacobson
Owners: Dale and Clark Jacobson
Propane sales: 700,000 annual gallons
Headquarters: Long Beach, Washington