Pink mower marks New York retailer’s entry into propane autogas

October 3, 2014 By    
Porco Energy

Porco Energy partnered with AltFuel to convert the Santini’s Lawn Care mower.

Porco Energy runs its cylinder exchange program through the summer, and it delivers a number of summer gallons each year to heat pools. But leaders at Porco sought new opportunities a year ago to grow their business during propane’s offseason.

Lawn mowers presented a unique opportunity, they found. The opportunity was also one that could thrust Porco into the propane autogas market.

“If we get good landscapers, we’re going to add 1,000 or 1,200 gallons per year [per mower],” says Joe Porco, vice president, whose business is located in Marlboro, N.Y. “Those will be mostly summer gallons, and that’s an ideal situation.”

The company originally approached lawn mower dealers to encourage them to sell propane mowers, but Porco found dealers currently have little interest in this area.

“It’s a tough nut to crack,” he says. “Dealers were a little apprehensive to get landscapers to go out and purchase them. So we looked at converting existing ones.”

The conversion approach is how Porco Energy landed its first mower customer: Santini’s Lawn Care, another Marlboro-based business.

Santini’s owner, Steve Santini, admits he didn’t know a thing about propane mowers before Porco approached him. But Santini decided to convert one of his four mowers – a Bobcat Predator Pro – to propane once he learned about the fuel’s advantages.

“We service the mower every 40 to 50 hours,” says Santini, who estimates his conversion cost between $1,800 and $2,000. “Now, we’re going every 100 to 150 hours and still seeing the same amount of oil use. There’s really no breaking down the oil at 150 hours.”

Fuel consumption between Santini’s propane mower and gasoline mowers is about the same, he adds, but he’s saving $1.50 to $1.75 per gallon on fuel for his propane mower.

“All of our gas comes from Porco,” says Santini, who burned nearly 2,200 gallons of propane with his mower this year through August. “We have 15 or 16 [33-pound vapor] cylinders we swap out as needed. They’ll take inventory based on what our consumption is.”

In addition, Santini says his propane mower delivers a slightly better cut than his gasoline mowers.

“With propane you’re going to raise your rpm,” he says. “I’m getting about 200 rpms more, so that changes your blade-tip speeds.”

Besides the fact that propane powers one of Santini’s mowers, Santini teamed with Porco Energy to paint its Bobcat pink to promote breast cancer awareness. The companies showcased the pink mower last year at a local festival.

“The festival here raises money for various charities and donations,” Porco says. “It’s not for one specific thing. But the organization that puts it on does raise money.”

The mower has drawn attention around town, too.

“It’s been an eye-catcher,” Santini says. “Not only is it pink, but when people see the tank they’re like, ‘What is that thing?’ I probably get one or two calls a week with people just asking about it.”

As for Porco, it plans to pursue additional opportunities to grow gallons with mowers.

“We’ve met with school districts on converting their mowers,” Porco says. “Municipalities and golf courses are on our list.”

COMPANY: Porco Energy

LOCATION: Marlboro, N.Y.

FOUNDED: 1954

EMPLOYEES: 49

CUSTOMERS: About 12,000, including 9,000 propane

PROPANE SALES: 5 million annual gallons

ONLINE: www.porcoenergy.com

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

Comments are currently closed.