Reliable Propane finds value in company newsletter

November 1, 2008 By    

Reliable Propane

New York company finds value in reaching customers through newsletter

TEAM: From left, David Lombardo, Wilma Roth, Ken and Donna Albrecht, Marissa Albrecht, Jim Ganschow, Garner Light, Mindy and Andy Sauer and John Ganschow

LOCATION: Clarence Center, N.Y. (northwest corner of the state, covering five counties)


EMPLOYEES: 10 (5 are full time and 5 are part time)

SPECIALTY: Retailer focuses propane sales for home heating and water heating. It also offers other propane-related services, such as tank installation and parts repair and service.

PROPANE SOLD: About 1.5 million gallons per year


When Reliable Propane launched its company newsletter in 2002, President Ken Albrecht was pictured wearing a shirt and tie.

“We had seen a newsletter from a larger company in the area and the owner was wearing a shirt and tie in the photo,” Albrecht recalls. “So I did the same thing.”

When Albrecht bought the New York business from his father, Sid, in 1978, he wanted to create a corporate look. He wanted to portray an image of a large company that could handle everything. But a friend advised against that image and told Albrecht to be himself in the photos.

“As I came away from the tie and corporate look, the more I started to reveal more of myself,” Albrecht says. “I started sharing stories about family, the business and everyday things that happen that interest our customers.”

And the response was positive, especially among women, who make most of the household-buying decisions.

The newsletter is mailed to about 2,000 customers three to four times per year, and archives of recent editions are available on the company’s Web site. Albrecht has found the newsletter to be the best two-way form of communication with customers, aside from making deliveries or collecting payments.

“People feel connected with it,” he says, noting how industry consultant Propane Resources encouraged the company to launch a newsletter.

The Reliable Propane Customer-Link Newsletter includes “Ken’s Corner,” in which Albrecht relays an informative and humorous message. The newsletter often contains recipes and information about nature and wildlife, and there are photos of employees’ pets. Reliable Propane also provides news about how it can better serve its customers, reserving space for appliance safety advice.

Albrecht creates most of the content, receiving help from driver Garner Light (with nature) and service technician John Ganschow (with safety). Albrecht’s wife and daughters also have a hand in proofreading the newsletter.

The communication Reliable Propane seeks through its newsletter coincides with how it relates to customers.

“We’re personable with our customers,” Albrecht says. “If we know our customer has a dog and is very attached to it, we’ll make sure they get some sort of treat for their pet. It’s the little stuff. It sounds so miniscule, but it is important to the customer, so we watch for those opportunities.”

About the Author:

Brian Richesson is the editor in chief of LP Gas Magazine. Contact him at or 216-706-3748.

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