West Unity & Delta Men Start Local Propane Venture

IMG_20160308_125319BUILDING A BUSINESS … (L-R) Hans Burkholder, Kelby Beck and Aaron Klopfenstein hope to provide low prices and faithful service to area customers.

By: James Pruitt

Three area men from West Unity and Delta are hoping that by offering lower cost propane to homes and businesses they can find a niche in the local market. Northwest Propane, LLC, which began operations in January, has been working to establish itself as the low-cost alternative to larger competitors. The company is starting small as it builds its customer base.

The business is run by Aaron Klopfenstein (Delta), Hans Burkholder (West Unity), and Kelby Beck (West Unity). The trio began bouncing the idea around more than a year ago and finally decided to make a go of it, Klopfenstein said.

“Our main focus is propane cylinders for forklifts,” Klopfenstein said from his office on near Delta. “Residential customers use their own tanks and we have just started leasing tanks.”

The company has a filling station between Archbold and West Unity as it remains a three-man operation. Each of the partners have other businesses to support them as the company finds its footing.

Besides forklifts, the company sells propane to farmers, manufacturers and other industries.“So far the response has been positive,” Klopfenstein said. “We are trying to be extremely competitive in our pricing.”For now that means selling propane for less than a dollar per gallon. The goal is to build a base of customer support that comes with free safety checks when customers get their tanks filled.“We treat customers how I know I would want to be treated,” Klopfenstein said. “That goes a long way in building trust.”

The company is fully insured and carries certifications (HM 126, 232 and 225 A). Burkholder and Beck make deliveries while Klopfenstein does the marketing. “We take safety seriously,” Klopfenstein said. “We offer free inspections and pressure checks, especially for new customers.“We can do service work.”

The mild winter hasn’t been good for propane providers as a 500-gallon tank can last two to three months. Last winter, the same tank may have lasted a month or two at the coldest part of the season.The company offers 500 and 1,000 gallon tanks.

At this point the company does not offer contracts for a season, Klopfenstein said. While customers may not be able to lock in a price, the company hopes the overall lower costs will be appealing, he said.“We want to give people a choice,” states Klopfenstein.

James Pruitt may be reached at publisher@thevillagereporter.com

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