LPG Spotlight: Hocon Gas

November 8, 2021 By    
Photo courtesy of Hocon Gas

Hocon Gas serves primarily residential customers throughout Connecticut and parts of Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island. Photo courtesy of Hocon Gas

Hocon Gas isn’t one to shy away from a challenge.

The propane retailer – which serves customers in Connecticut and parts of Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island – has taken on several large autogas-related projects.

“I’ve always believed in propane as an alternative fuel and always stressed for decades about the fact that propane doesn’t pollute the ground, air or water,” says David Gable, president of Hocon Gas.

Among these projects is the Pride Travel Center. Three years ago, a coordinator of a Clean Cities coalition in Connecticut approached the family-owned and -operated retailer, asking Gable if he would be involved in the installation of propane autogas refueling infrastructure at a travel center being built to house multiple alternative fuel energy options.

“He asked me if I would be interested, and I promptly said ‘yeah,’” Gable says. “That’s what I think we as an industry need to do to make it easier for the public to be able to purchase this fuel and have them work as effectively as refueling gasoline or diesel.”

So, Gable and the Hocon Gas team went to work on the task at hand, with plans originally made to install one 1,990-gallon propane tank.

“When I had conceived of doing the propane side of it for autogas, I was going to do a single 1,990-gallon tank,” Gable says. “And if it grew beyond my wildest expectations, I set it up so that we could put [in] a second 1,990-gallon tank.”

By the project’s completion, Hocon Gas had installed an 18,000-gallon tank designed to not only refuel propane school buses and fleets but also refill bobtails.

The Pride Travel Center, located in Hartford, Connecticut, opened in June, with industry members such as the Propane Education & Research Council’s Tucker Perkins and local government officials attending the grand opening. The center has a number of alternative energies, including propane autogas, electric vehicle chargers and hydrogen refueling.

In addition to installing the refueling infrastructure, the retailer now supplies the propane autogas for it, which presents a positive business opportunity from a gallon-sales standpoint, as well.

Hocon Gas had supplied autogas years before the travel center plans emerged.

In fact, about seven years ago, Hocon Gas installed an autogas refueling tank for a school bus operator in the state who was looking to lower his carbon footprint while saving money. And the demand for alternative fuels such as propane has only grown in the state, particularly in the school bus market, Gable explains.

“Six or seven years later, Connecticut now has about 700 propane buses operating in the state and interest from a number of other municipalities,” he says. “We work to get autogas [to the public], which I think is a great opportunity for the industry to help flatten the demand curve.”

Gable encourages other retailers to infiltrate the autogas market if it’s right for them, but he says the process requires patience and work to educate the public.

“It’s a hard business,” Gable says. “The sell cycle is long and the margins are thin, the volumes are big, but we as an industry need to keep reinventing ourselves, in my opinion, and that’s one way to do it.”

He adds: “The biggest component is education, and that is a never-ending process. You have to overcome the obstacles and explain [propane’s benefits] to the decision-makers.”

Company Profile: Hocon Gas

Year founded // 1952
Headquarters // Shelton, Connecticut
Founder // Mike Gable
Owner // David Gable
Employees // 120
Bobtails // 40

About the Author:

Carly Bemer (McFadden) was the managing editor at LP Gas magazine.

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