Goodrich Gas struck balance with propane, heating and air

September 17, 2012 By    

Bob Goodrich’s workday didn’t always start at 8 a.m. And, like many propane marketers, his workday didn’t always end at a convenient hour. But it’s a safe bet few marketers in propane’s 100 years ever started their days as early as Goodrich did in his first years operating Missouri-based Goodrich Gas Inc.

“Bob used to wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning, get a load of gas and be back here in time to go to work at 8 o’clock,” says Geneva Goodrich, Bob’s wife.

Bob preferred to fetch his own propane rather than depend on someone else to haul in a new load. The downside of that preference, however, was the 3 a.m. wakeups. And Bob was a regular early bird because he could not haul thousands of gallons in one trip like today’s marketers when he launched his business in 1959.

“Seventy-five to 100 gallons was all you could haul,” Bob says. “Now we can haul about 9,500 gallons.”

The key to those long hauls was getting in front of the school buses before they started their morning routes. If Bob got stuck behind a school bus, it could make for an extra-long morning.

“Back in those days, we had single-lane roads,” Bob says. “I tried to time myself so I would be ahead of them. I’d get a load, pump it off and go eat breakfast because we lived right next to the plant.”

Bob did most of that back-and-forth in the wintertime. Realizing he could not sell enough propane in the summer to sustain his business, Bob ventured into heating and air conditioning for supplemental revenue. His late son, James, helped run that business for many years, while two other sons, Rob and Bruce, currently run Goodrich Gas stores in St. Robert and Crocker, Mo., respectively.

“The heating business made my business,” Bob says. “I think at one time I had three crews in heating and air. I did the sales and the checking.”

Today, Goodrich Gas has four retail outlets and two satellite locations. Bob, who’s now 80 years old, still goes to work every day in Crocker, albeit in a more advisory role.

“Bob’s tried a little bit of everything,” Geneva says. “He always loved the business and he loved the people. He used to tell customers, ‘All I can give you is good service, and I’ll give you that.’”

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About the Author:

Kevin Yanik was a senior editor at LP Gas Magazine.

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