Michigan retailer uncovers software solutions at Growth Summit

June 3, 2024 By    

About seven years ago, Chris Caywood was searching for a new operations management software for his company, Caywood Propane Gas in Hudson, Michigan. He made a comprehensive list of software features that were important to him, but three priorities stood out.

Chris Caywood


First, Caywood needed software that would fully, quickly and easily integrate with his back office accounting function. Some software brands did integrate, but it was a long and laborious process.

Caywood also wanted to provide an app for his customers so they could access their accounts from their phones. Finally, he was looking for software with digital business forms in various formats so that he could go completely paperless.

Caywood found his ideal software in 2017 at the LP Gas Growth Summit. That’s where he met Nick Quaratiello of Blue Cow Software, which has since been purchased by PDI Technologies, a global firm that helps convenience stores and petroleum wholesalers manage their data and operations.

It was the first LP Gas summit for both Caywood and Quaratiello.

“It was like speed dating where you went from table to table with different vendors for 20 minutes,” Caywood, president of Caywood Propane, says of a format that LP Gas revised in recent years where vendors now meet retailers in their respective suites. “We did a lot of follow-up with Nick after meeting him at the summit.”

“We hit it off from the beginning,” says Quaratiello, PDI’s vice president of sales for enterprise productivity and manager of the firm’s propane and commercial fueling sales division. “Chris is a very personable guy.”

After thoroughly researching other companies’ software products, Caywood signed with Blue Cow in April 2018.

Nick Quaratiello


“Less than a month after we signed, the software was implemented,” Caywood says. “It was very quick. We were impressed by that.”

From the start, Caywood targeted a slew of Blue Cow/PDI products, including the mobile app for customers, a customer online portal and a mobile device that allows drivers and service technicians to schedule deliveries digitally.

Caywood also uses PDI’s data analytics product, which comes with more than 800 canned industry studies that customers can use to create individualized reports with data they want and need.

The results of Caywood’s partnership with PDI have been significant. Before the partnership, about 25 percent of Caywood’s customers took advantage of autofill service, in which the company automatically schedules a propane delivery when tank monitors indicate a low supply.

Thanks to PDI’s software, that percentage has risen to about 74 percent, Caywood says.

Meanwhile, half of Caywood’s customers who don’t use autofill service place orders through the customer portal or phone app, leaving only a small percentage that order in person or by phone. As a result, Caywood’s phone volume has dropped by about 60 percent.

The increased amount of digital business has allowed Caywood to reduce staff and pay less overtime, since propane deliveries are made mostly during the 40-hour workweek. Also, customers rarely run out of propane.

“A typical company targets a runout rate of 3 percent or less,” Caywood says. “Ours is hundredths of a percent.”

PDI, in addition to gaining Caywood’s business, has benefited in other ways from the partnership. Caywood served on a 2019 panel that answered questions from PDI customers about PDI products. He has referred potential clients to PDI, and he joined an advisory board that meets quarterly with PDI’s product development team.

“Chris is able to say what is needed in the market and is generous with his ideas,” Quaratiello says. “His input is extremely valuable.”

Quaratiello says he and Blue Cow/PDI have been to every LP Gas Growth Summit since 2017.

For Caywood, the 2017 summit is still impacting his business seven years later.

“No software system, especially off the shelf, can be perfect for everybody,” Caywood says. “A lot of what’s important for me with PDI might not be as appealing to other marketers. But PDI was a great fit for us.”

Logo: LP Gas Growth Summit

Find out how to apply to the LP Gas Growth Summit.

Comments are currently closed.