A marketer takes us ‘behind the scenes’ of a personal project

September 8, 2011 By    

Justin Parish has done the math, and the numbers add up. Therein lies the problem.

For him and his two teenage daughters to see a movie and enjoy refreshments from the concession stand, Parish pays about $50. The movies are fun, certainly, but the Parish family has another source of fun for less cost: Airboating.

Airboats are a popular attraction in Florida, where Parish doubles as an airboat enthusiast and a propane marketer, leading family-owned Par Gas Inc. For the past two-plus years, Parish has combined those two interests, working to convert an airboat to run on propane. He completed the project earlier this summer.

The 40-year-old Parish says the family takes the airboat out and about every weekend, packing a lunch for the day while enjoying the ride and time swimming and fishing. “Quality family time,” he calls it, noting that his girls “grew up on airboats, riding with me.

“As a matter of fact, they’re the reason I built it,” Parish says.

So who needs movies?

Now he and his family have a cleaner, less-expensive method of boating on Florida’s waterways – not to mention a unique creation to show the boating and propane industries. Airboating Magazine was already planning to feature the propane airboat on its pages.

“There’s a lot going on behind the scenes that the propane industry doesn’t get to see,” Parish says. “There’s so much out there to build to get us off gasoline and diesel. There’s more than just home heating and commercial gas. There are a lot more uses for propane.”

Parish believes that boats are a great place to start, especially in Florida and for companies already involved in the forklift cylinder business. Parish’s propane airboat is equipped with two 40-pound forklift cylinders, and he envisions cages filled with these aluminum cylinders for boaters to exchange – mirroring the 20-pound gas grill cylinder business model – in order to fuel their watercraft. Or boaters could fuel up at a fill station.

“We have to let people know there’s another option out there,” Parish says. “If you’re an outdoorsman, you’re an environmentalist, and you don’t want to see what you have ruined” by the dirty fuels in use now.

It’s not just about opportunity in a new application either. It’s about adapting to changing times and surviving in a changing climate, where winter gallons seem harder and harder to sell, Parish explains.

“Right now, we don’t have the winter gas [business] like we used to in Florida,” Parish says. “Now at Christmas, I’m actually running the air conditioning.

“If propane’s going to survive and outdo natural gas, we have to look at other things besides what we’re doing right now,” he adds. “There’s already a market there. Now let’s jump into the market.”

You can watch Parish test the propane airboat in his yard on YouTube. And to read more about the propane airboat, see Snapshot.

Inspiring words
Propane marketers gearing up to make their deliveries also should read words penned in recent months by PERC CEO Roy Willis.

Willis paints an incredibly descriptive scenario of a bobtail driver’s daily routine, found in his blog, Beyond the Backyard, at beyondthebackyard.net. Check out the blog post from June 17 titled “We make house calls.”

Willis dedicates the post to his truck-driving father and bobtail drivers everywhere, and it will make you proud to deliver propane.

It’s September, and the winter heating season is right around the corner. We’re offering up our annual winter supply and pricing story but with a fresh angle. Take a look.

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About the Author:

Brian Richesson is the editor in chief of LP Gas Magazine. Contact him at brichesson@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3748.

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