Texas propane retailer corrals rodeo business

July 30, 2014 By    

The home heating season typically winds down for Texas-based Buster Brown Propane around February or March. So the start of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which traditionally takes place in March, is a welcome event that helps to extend Buster Brown’s seasonal business through winter’s end.

“We’ve done the rodeo for the last seven years,” says Jan Peterson, who owns Buster Brown with her husband, Mark, and son, Matt. “That’s a pretty big deal for a small-town propane company, we think. That gets us a lot of attention, because we have a truck there every day.”

On average, Buster Brown delivers about 50,000 of the company’s 2 million annual gallons to the rodeo, Matt Peterson says. Propane is used for a variety of reasons there. It fuels forklifts, provides heat for cooking and more.

“We have a lot of big-name restaurants that set up in the parking lot,” Matt says. “They’ll move in entire kitchens, and we’ll set a series of 500-gallon tanks up for the power use of these kitchens.”

The rodeo isn’t Buster Brown’s typical account. Four or five employees are needed each year to set up tanks and related equipment for the rodeo, Matt says. Once the temporary infrastructure is in place and inspected, Buster Brown’s crew is reduced to Matt and usually one other worker for the duration of the rodeo.

“We’ll top off tanks and make sure everything’s OK,” Matt says. “We’ll stay there throughout the afternoon to make sure everyone’s operational. After setup, it’s really just a maintenance thing for us.”

Buster Brown makes its daily deliveries to the rodeo early each morning to avoid the traffic that develops later in the day.

“Your bigger restaurants operate off a 500- or a 250-gallon tank,” Jan says. “That’s why we need to have a bobtail there every day. They don’t want to run out.”

Buster Brown also added a mobile dispensing unit to streamline its handling of the rodeo. Now, when rodeo vendors need their cylinders refilled, they simply set them in front of their booths for Matt to refill.

“The first couple years were tough because we were running around grabbing 100-plus 100-pound cylinders to refill,” Matt says. “I designed a mobile dispensing unit that we put on a trailer with a 1,000-gallon tank. So when we do set up, we bring down the 1,000-gallon mobile dispensing unit that really helps with manpower.”

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About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is the senior editor of LP Gas Magazine. Contact him at kyanik@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3724.

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