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LPG Spotlight: Douglass Distributing

August 3, 2021 By    
Photo courtesy of Douglass Distributing

Douglass Distributing provides propane for residential, commercial and agricultural customers in northern Texas and southern Oklahoma. Photo courtesy of Douglass Distributing

The power generation market presents a unique opportunity for propane retailers.

Sean Caney, operations manager of the propane division at Texas-based Douglass Distributing, was first intrigued by the idea of propane-fueled power generation when he saw an advertisement for the “JuiceBox,” manufactured by Evergreen Mobile Power.

The JuiceBox is a mobile propane generator featuring dual onboard propane tanks that can be refilled as needed for short-term projects, or customers can add larger tanks – such as 250- and 500-gallon or 420-pound cylinders – via a hose or copper line for extended run time.

Caney’s initial thought was that the generator could be used at the Douglass Distributing office, but realized its potential extended far beyond the company’s office to the end users it serves in northern Texas and southern Oklahoma.

Thus began Douglass Distributing’s new business of offering the JuiceBox units as a rental option for customers.

The units can be used in a variety of settings such as local events, concerts and family cookouts, as well as construction and wedding venues that need to power outdoor spaces, according to Caney.

One of the most prominent applications is the homebuilding market. Douglass Distributing can offer long-term leases to builders and contractors.

“What we always told our customers was propane is powering your home from the slab to move-in,” Caney says. “It really gave us – in certain subdivisions – a lot of visibility and marketing. We were able to put aboveground propane tanks to power these generators during the construction process in communities that were only allowing underground utilities.”

Festivals and community events are also great candidates for the mobile propane generators, which can replace diesel-powered counterparts. The JuiceBox units are quieter than diesel generators, and they do not emit the odor that comes from burning diesel, says Caney.

Like much of the propane industry, Douglass Distributing’s propane business relies on long-term relationships with customers. Meanwhile, the rental market typically entails short-term usage on an as-needed basis, so the marketing for the rental business relies heavily on visibility and word-of-mouth.

Douglass Distributing aims to grow visibility with signage around the units, including company logo and QR codes that direct individuals to its website.

Also key to the marketing efforts is campaigning the propane-fueled units as a clean-energy solution for customers.

“We see added value for the increased marketability of propane by branding the units – which will be highly visible to folks that we may not otherwise market to – and promoting propane as a clean energy source,” Caney says.

Douglass Distributing’s venture into the power generation rental market presents a two-for-one opportunity, because the company also sells the propane required to fuel the units, increasing gallon sales during summer months when sales would typically slow.

“Most propane companies are already equipped with the infrastructure to do this,” Caney says. “Most of them have pickup trucks, flatbed trailers, cranes that they could use to deploy the units, and then they have bobtails to fill the units. It’s a great opportunity to promote and market propane.”

Company profile

Year Founded // 1981
Founder // Bill Douglass
Owners // Bill Douglass, Brad Douglass & Diane McCarty
Headquarters // Sherman, Texas
Employees // 14
Bobtails // 7
Transports // 1
Annual Gallons // 4.2 million

About the Author:

Carly McFadden is associate editor at LP Gas Magazine. She is a graduate of Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and a native of Cleveland, Ohio. McFadden can be reached at cmcfadden@northcoastmedia.net.

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