LPG Spotlight: Combined Energy Services

November 23, 2021 By    
Combined Energy Services provides propane to primarily residential customers in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Taylor)

Combined Energy Services provides propane to primarily residential customers in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Taylor)

More gallons per drop. Less drops per year.

That is the mantra of Combined Energy Services, where long-term preparation and efficiency are top priorities.

Mike Taylor, owner of the company – which provides propane and fuels to customers in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania – has taken great care to build up storage and maximize efficiencies throughout the past decade, a decision that has paid off given the myriad shortages that propane retailers and others face heading into the 2021-22 heating season.

“We’ve been doing this 53 years,” Taylor says. “As far as propane, we’ve seen shortages, but I don’t think we’ve ever seen a winter where we’re entering with the inventories across the country so low. And the rapid exportation of the product has us nervous that if you see sustained cold across much of the United States, this could really be crunch time.”

In addition to supply concerns, Combined Energy Services is experiencing difficulties finding drivers – a common sentiment in the industry nowadays. The company also is impacted by equipment and materials shortages as Taylor waits on orders that would allow three trucks to be ready in time for winter.

Despite those concerns, however, Combined Energy Services is uniquely positioned to weather the supply storm that the upcoming heating season threatens. Several years ago, Taylor chose to ramp up the company’s storage capabilities and maximize efficiencies across the board.

“We’ve been focusing greatly on that tertiary storage,” Taylor says. “We’ve been upsizing customers’ tanks in the field for the last 10 years steadily.”

Upsizing tanks allows the company to fill more propane in each tank per delivery, ultimately meaning drivers make fewer deliveries when it’s harder to keep up during the winter months.

In addition to installing larger tanks, Taylor says Combined Energy Services adjusts the K factor burn rate on delivery days based on outside temperature and places monitors on all of its tanks to ensure levels don’t get too low between deliveries. The company also installed larger pumps at its plants to decrease the fill time and increase efficiency.

“If I can fill that bobtail in nine minutes versus 18, I could save nine minutes,” Taylor says. “Filling twice a day is 18 minutes. Five times a week is almost 100. I look at everything exponentially.”

Still, Taylor wanted some further security, so he purchased several tanks for the upcoming winter. In fact, he says the company received five trailer loads of propane tanks within 30 days.

Taylor’s preparation and foresight when making decisions for Combined Energy Services – coupled with his ability to think and act quickly – strengthen the likelihood that the upcoming heating season will run about as smoothly as possible, even if challenges are inevitable.

For the long term, Taylor encourages other retailers to invest in storage, even when supply isn’t a concern, to be more prepared for times such as these. As for managing the winter of 2021-22, he emphasizes communication.

“Be loyal. Keep an open line of communication with your suppliers and transport company. Pay your bills,” Taylor says. “And don’t beat up your suppliers for narrow pennies because you might need them in the winter.”

Company Profile: Combined Energy Services

Year founded // 1968
Headquarters // Monticello, New York
Founder // Walter Taylor
Owner // Mike Taylor
Bobtails // 14

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