LPG Spotlight: O.E. Meyer

October 25, 2022 By    
Photo by LP Gas staff

O.E. Meyer takes winter prep to another level. (Photo by LP Gas staff)

A race against the lake.

That’s what O.E. Meyer, headquartered in Sandusky, Ohio, encounters each fall as it prepares its island-based customers for the long winter ahead.

Sandusky is situated in northwest Ohio, on the shores of Lake Erie. With theme park Cedar Point and three islands off its coast – Middle Bass, South Bass and Kelleys Island – attracting tourists and summertime residents, O.E. Meyer stays busy year-round.

The company maintains bobtails and storage facilities on each island, and it sends employees – and even transport loads – on ferries from Sandusky to service customers.

“Through the summer and fall, we send guys over on the ferry,” says Matt Drennen, propane division manager at O.E. Meyer. “They come from Sandusky, get on the ferry in the morning, ride it over to the island and then they go do their work, whether it be setting tanks, repairing, service orders or delivering gas. Then, they ride the ferry back home in the afternoon.”

But as winter approaches and summer crowds dwindle, O.E. Meyer faces one unique obstacle in servicing the islands’ full-time residents: Lake Erie’s icy wrath. The lake begins to freeze at some point before Christmas, Drennen says. But even if the lake is not frozen yet, the company may not have access to the ferries needed to transport employees and propane loads.

“If we’ve got air temperatures that are freezing and the lake is very choppy, all of that water that splashes up onto the deck of the boat will freeze,” Drennen explains. “At which point, the ferry operators will shut down even if the lake is still open because now you’ve got a very slippery surface that you would have no way of securing trucks and people. So once air temperatures reach freezing levels, it’s really kind of a day-to-day thing.”

As a result, the company must secure propane supply on the island and fill its customers’ tanks prior to facing freezing conditions.

“[With] all of those residential accounts, any businesses or water treatment plants that need to be heated, we’re wanting to get them topped off one last time so that we have the maximum amount of gas on the islands,” Drennen says. “[We ensure] the customer is full, the storage is full, everything is full, so that we can ride out the winter.”

To further address any supply concerns, O.E. Meyer added 30,000 gallons to its storage facility on Kelleys Island this year, increasing the island’s storage facility capacity to 96,000 gallons. Additionally, once the ferries have shut down, O.E. Meyer flies employees to the islands via plane if they need more workers there at any time.

According to Drennen, the fall can be stressful ensuring there are enough gallons on the islands to make it through the winter. But between the efforts of customers, ferry operators and employees, O.E. Meyer keeps homes and businesses warm through Ohio’s unpredictable winters.

“There’s a lot of work that goes into it,” he says. “But we’ve got great customers. We’ve got great partnerships with the ferryboat operators. We’re really all in it together to get things buttoned up and ready and to get us through the winter. It really is a team effort to make it all work.”

Company profile: O.E. Meyer

Year founded // 1918
Founder // Omar Meyer
Owners // Employee-owned
Headquarters // Sandusky, Ohio
Employees // 100
Bobtails // 10
Annual gallons // 3 million

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About the Author:

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

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