New York-based retailer growing behind balanced market approach

December 11, 2013 By    

David Stroupe estimates he’s reviewed more than 250 propane businesses as prospective mergers or acquisitions throughout his career. Yankee Propane, which Stroupe currently serves as president, was one of those companies.

“I really couldn’t pick a better business to be involved in,” says Stroupe, who joined Yankee Propane in November 2012 after spending most of his career with Heritage Propane. “I’ve known [owners] Ken and Nancy Koeller for a number of years, and I knew quite a bit about their business before I joined. They built a great foundation through the efforts of all of their employees.”

Since the Koellers took a step back from their Florida, N.Y.-based company, Stroupe has been tasked with taking Yankee Propane to the next level. Yankee Propane is exploring potential acquisitions, he says, as well as other means of growing internally.

But Stroupe envisions the company staying true to its values and doing business as usual for the foreseeable future.

“We have a very straightforward approach,” Stroupe says. “What we offer is excellent service. We don’t charge any delivery-related fees, which seem to be a recent trend in the industry. As attractive as that might be, it’s just not our marketing approach.”

One aspect that made Yankee Propane attractive to Stroupe is its balanced marketing approach.

“We do a lot of residential, of course, but we have a significant industrial and commercial business,” Stroupe says. “The industrial is focused on 33-pound cylinder sales. That’s really broken down between spray-fill deliveries and a percentage that are pump stations. Many of our industrial customers will fill their own 33-pound cylinders.”

Yankee Propane also has multiple commercial pump stations that account for a chunk of gallon sales.

“That’s been an attractive business for us,” Stroupe says. “The 20-pound exchange [business] has grown significantly, but we continue to grow our pump station business. Our customers find they offer an attractive return versus cylinder exchange.”

Donna Ortiz, the company’s office manager who started in 1998 as an administrative assistant, says increased home building in the areas they serve in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania is another factor driving business.

“The real estate market crash kind of hurt us a little bit,” Ortiz says. “We worked with a lot of builders at one point. They’re starting to call again.”

Yankee Propane’s forklift business has seen an uptick with economic improvements, as well.

“Our service territory covers southern New York, northern New Jersey and northeast Pennsylvania,” Stroupe says. “There are 36,000 businesses located near one of our plants. Given the strengthening of the economy, that’s having a residual effect on our forklift sales.”

LOCATIONS: Florida, N.Y., Teterboro, N.J., and Hardyston, N.J.

FOUNDED: 1989

EMPLOYEES: 19

PROPANE SALES: 5 million annual gallons

ONLINE: www.yankeepropane.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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