LPG Spotlight: deBoer Propane

January 20, 2023 By    
Located in the Florida Keys, deBoer Propane provides propane to hotels and restaurants. (Photo courtesy of Wonderdog Studios)

Located in the Florida Keys, deBoer Propane provides propane to hotels and restaurants. (Photo courtesy of Wonderdog Studios)

For more than 50 years, Erik deBoer has lived and worked in the Florida Keys. A co-owner of various businesses, deBoer, along with his longstanding partner, Richard Manley, was approached by Florida’s Como Oil in 2017, leading to a new partnership known as Como Keys Propane.

The partnership began as a result of the duo’s Manley deBoer Lumber Co. While overseeing the business, deBoer and Manley owned a rare segment of land in the Florida Keys, which was successfully permitted for a significant construction project – a 60,000-gallon propane bulk plant.

In 2020, deBoer was offered an opportunity to buy Como Keys Propane outright, leading him to rename the business deBoer Propane. The following year, his stepson, Arlen Fernandez, bought a share of the business and became an equity partner. Fernandez and deBoer now oversee deBoer Propane as co-owners. Fernandez serves as general manager and master qualifier, while deBoer is the majority owner.

Throughout all of the changes during the past five years, one aspect of the company has remained unchanged: its location in Key West. The unique locale requires Fernandez and deBoer to conduct business outside of the norm, so to speak.

DeBoer Propane encounters certain issues that many propane companies simply don’t. For one, the company must overcome hurricane season every summer and fall.

“However, deBoer Propane is dedicated to servicing our customers in the aftermath of storms, regardless of how significant they are, along with the damage they cause,” Fernandez says. “Since starting deBoer Propane in 2017, we have weathered three hurricanes. Each time, in the midst of every hurricane’s aftermath, we were able to deliver gas the morning after the winds subsided – a streak we intend to continue.”

Although it encounters large-scale storms during the fall and summer, deBoer Propane never has to confront cold weather in the winter. Consequently, the company doesn’t experience as much seasonal variation as companies in colder climates.

At first glance, this may appear to be a drawback for the company, as propane marketers are known for providing their services during the winter and earning high profits at that time.

Nonetheless, Fernandez and deBoer acquire profit throughout the winter heating season – without ever seeing a snowflake.

One of the primary reasons is that deBoer Propane spends less money on propane delivery, as each of its customers is located within 1 mile of U.S. Highway 1, the only primary road between Miami and Key West.

In addition, since the Florida Keys are located at the border of Everglades National Park and surrounded by the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge, their ecology and coral reefs are highly sensitive. Therefore, a natural gas pipeline will likely never be built there, leading to no competition from the natural gas industry.

“Since hotels and restaurants are dependent on propane in the Florida Keys, it’s as essential of a fuel as electricity but lower priced,” Fernandez says. “With this in mind, our location is perfect for long-term success, despite the ebbs and flows we’ll continue to face.”

Company profile: deBoer Propane

Year founded // 2017
Founder and owners // Erik deBoer and Arlen Fernandez
Headquarters // Key West, Florida
Bobtails // 3
Annual gallon sales // 1.1 million

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