2003 Top 50 propane retailers

February 1, 2003 By    

The books on fiscal year 2002 are officially closed, and AmeriGas Partners again has retained its crown as the largest U.S. propane retailer in the annual LP Gas Top 50 rankings.

The Valley Forge, Pa.-based giant sold 61.2 million gallons more than runner-up Ferrellgas. Cenex, Suburban and Heritage round out this year’s top five spots. In fact, the eight largest retailers are unchanged from last year.

Two companies on last year’s list (#17 Pro-Am Inc. of Pittsburgh and #20 V-1 Oil Co. of Idaho Falls, Idaho) are gone via acquisition. We also received no response from four retailers expected to make the list: Horizon Propane (formerly Level Propane) of Cleveland; Sharp Energy of Salisbury, Md.; Schagrin Gas of Middletown, Del.; and Suburban Gas of Bessemer, Ala.

The lone new entrant to this year’s Top 50 is Diversified Energy of Raleigh, N.C. Congratulations and welcome!

Two quick qualifiers:

  •  The Cenex listing of 567 million gallons includes sales from its
    more than 700 affiliate cooperative retailers, not just its corporate-owned
    plants. Some propane retailers get real huffy about them being listed together.
  •  Sixth-ranked Cornerstone Propane, which is fighting for its very
    survival, is reporting numbers for the 12 months ending March 3, 2002.
    That is the last date it has been able to provide the requested data to
    the general public, even though the publicly held company’s fiscal year
    ends June 30.

As a whole, 2002 wasn’t the propane industry’s finest. Only one of the top 10 companies ­ Star Gas of Stamford, Conn. ­ reported an increase in gallons sold over the previous year. Out of the Top 50, 34 percent said sales were up, while 62 percent reported a drop.

Similarly, 34 percent say they gained customers. Twenty-four percent lost customers, 24 percent reported no change, and 12 percent did not provide that data for one or both years.

The industry’s largest retailers employed more people in 2002. Forty-four percent reported having more employees than in 2001; 30 percent employed fewer workers; and 18 percent had no change from 2001.

We are proud to provide this popular directory as an invaluable source of information about the largest retail companies and the people who lead and manage them.

While we strive to make these rankings as comprehensive as possible, our information is only as reliable as the folks who take the time to provide us data each year. If you or someone you know should be on the list, please let me know and we’ll be happy to include them in our 2004 listing.

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