Oklahoma company reconsiders tank monitors

April 22, 2024 By    
OLG tested its initial order of 27 tank monitors on its own bulk tanks. (Photo by Frank Stapp)

OLG tested its initial order of 27 tank monitors on its own bulk tanks. (Photo by Frank Stapp)

The experiment with tank monitors was failing for Oklahoma Liquefied Gas (OLG), a propane retailer based in Seminole, Oklahoma.

The family company, established in 1937, was in the process of modernizing and introducing more technology to its operations. The addition of tank monitors, it hoped, would help it operate more efficiently and eliminate human error when tracking stock.

Krista Stapp

Krista Stapp

“The tank monitors were horrible from the get-go,” says Krista Stapp, whose great grandfather J.O. Green founded OLG. “They didn’t work. The customer service and technical support were awful.”

Naturally, OLG was gun-shy about switching to a different brand of tank monitor after its initial bad experience. That changed, however, when Krista and her husband Frank Stapp, co-managers at OLG, met representatives from Anova at the 2023 LP Gas Growth Summit in the Orlando, Florida, area.

Eric Duckworth and Nick Virchow, Anova’s vice president of sales and sales director, respectively, mentioned their tank monitors to the Stapps but didn’t push them. Mostly they asked the couple about OLG and its history, and they shared information about Anova, based in Blair, Nebraska.

“It was more of a conversation,” Frank Stapp says. “That’s what we like. We’re that way with our community in Oklahoma. We won’t push our services on you. We’ll still be friends with you regardless.”

Nick Virchow

Nick Virchow

After the summit, the Stapps and Ken Green, Krista’s father and owner of OLG, agonized over whether to try Anova’s tank monitors. Then Duckworth swung by for a chat.

“He called out of the blue but wasn’t pushy,” Frank Stapp says. “So we ordered 27 tank monitors.”

OLG installed the monitors on its own stock to make sure they would work before introducing them to its customers.

“We were having problems getting current storage readings at our bulk plants,” Krista Stapp says. “We have more than a half-million gallons of propane, so we need to know what we have on hand, and we were getting tired of human errors.

Frank Stapp

Frank Stapp

“That’s why we took the plunge with Anova,” she says. “So far, it really has been great. The monitors are off by only 1 percent, which is nothing for a 30,000-gallon tank.”

Frank Stapp says OLG – instead of receiving a frantic call from one of its bulk plant managers about desperately needing more propane – already knows when a plant is running low, thanks to the tank monitors.

The Stapps say the monitors are easy to install, and they can activate the software from their cellphones. They also like the customer support. Frank Stapp says he appreciates that he has a hotline directly to Duckworth so that he doesn’t have to call different Anova representatives depending on his needs.

“You get straight answers,” Frank Stapp says. “If a monitor breaks, they know what’s wrong and how to repair it, or they send a new one. They get back to you right away.”

Eric Duckworth

Eric Duckworth

Duckworth says that Anova is fortunate to have a customer like OLG, with its long history and solid reputation in Oklahoma.

“OLG is well thought of in the industry,” Duckworth says. “And we learned by working with them that there are many companies out there operating fairly efficiently in the field with almost no digitized technology.”

The best way to serve these types of firms, Duckworth says, is to propose new technology at their pace, not Anova’s, and to address their specific needs.

“OLG has proven that even without technology, they can be wildly successful,” Duckworth says. “We’re just a small piece they’re adding to all the great things they’re already doing.”

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