For Three Generations
"In the early years, propane and butane were just a bi-product," said Ken Green, the third-generation owner of Seminole-based Oklahoma Liquefied Gas. "They were vented into the atmosphere or burned until somebody figured out it has more value than that."
Oklahoma Liquefied Gas founder J.O. Green was one of the early industry leaders who was able to sell the fuel profitaly. His company celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2007. The many usages for propane have included lighting, cooking, home and business heating and transportation fuels.
The industry peaked in the early 1970's when nearly 1,700 independent propane dealers did business in the state. Oklahoma Liquefied Gas is one of less than 300 of those still in business today. Consolidation helped grow the business.
"A lot of our growth has been through acquiring people who were ready to retire and their kids didn't desire to go into the business," Ken Green said. "It's amazing how many propane dealers' children went on to be doctors, lawyers or other professionals."
Green continued, "They moved up a rung or two above mom and dad. We've had a lot of people who did well on their own and chose not to go into the industry. I think that is a compliment to the business that the industry was able to give children other opportunities." It is unclear at this point whether Ken's children will continue the family business.
OLG Propane is also one of the even smaller number of propane companies still under family ownership into the third generation.
"I came in at a time when I enjoyed this and I felt like I would be a part of it," Green said.
Ken grew up around the company. He began working at his father's store when he was 14 and drove a truck for the company when he was 18. Ken took over the company when he was 22, after his father died.
OLG has drastically reduced its costs during thepast decade to remain competitive. Efficiency improvements have allowed OLG to reduce its fleet to 12 trucks from 20 over the past decade. "We've focused on getting our personnel motivated to sell more per truck," said Ken. "We encourage customers to keep their tanks full. Propane in your tank is better than sitting in our storage tanks. We've pumped more through the truck than before, and we've tried to reward people through compensation."
OLG's computer programs help to coordinate shipping schedules to make them more efficient and this effort has reduced the company's annual mileage by about 50 percent. "We've added equipment to our trucks so that when our drivers pull up to customers' homes, the meters will tell the driver where we are at, who the customer is, how much they owe, when they paid last and how much their tanks should hold," said Ken.
The technology is designed to speed up the driver's work. It also allows new or substitute drivers to quickly and easily fill-in for regular drivers.
OLG has about 40 employees, having fluctuated in the past, it remains relatively stable. With eight sales locations and four additional storage sites, the company serves over 12,000 customers throught central Oklahoma.