Business

Kitsap Propane joins the green team

Paul Sallup (left to right), Patti Walden, James Hess, Leah Henry and Larry Brooke make up the team of five at Kitsap Propane. - File Photo
Paul Sallup (left to right), Patti Walden, James Hess, Leah Henry and Larry Brooke make up the team of five at Kitsap Propane.
— image credit: File Photo

For earth and ethics: Kitsap Propane is

eco- and etho-friendly.

KINGSTON — For Kitsap Propane’s five employees, focusing on being eco- and customer-savvy has paid off exponentially.

In the past two years the business — located on Ecology Road just off of Hansville Highway — has grown from servicing 80 customers in the North End to more than 1,000 in Kitsap, Mason and Jefferson counties.

For the five, who put in long work days, labor and brainpower, it’s a sure sign the team must be doing something right.

“We’re here and local. People can come in physically and talk to us. They aren’t routed to some big telephone company out east or down south,” said Sales and Marketing Manager Leah Henry. “It seems like a small thing but it really makes a difference.”

Servicing 10 times the number of people they were in 2006, the team continues to push themselves, stretching work hours to fill as many customer needs as possible.

“We don’t have great employees, we have awesome employees,” Henry said, who came onboard two years ago. “They don’t want to let anything go until they solve the problem.”

The team, she said, is committed to continuing expansion. Each story of taking over competitor’s fuel tanks lights up their faces, earns high-fives and a well deserved chuckle.

“We are unique, independent thinkers and solution finders who do really work well as a team,” said Larry Brooke, the company’s propane system specialist.

The company prides itself in individual specialties, especially Brooke’s custom design work for underground tanks, so people don’t have unsightly gas tanks in their gardens.

Brooke has engineered and designed systems for Kitsap Propane since its inception in 1999.

“There is nothing he can’t figure out, he has so much experience,” Henry said.

Specialty designs are necessary in the area due to the variety of property layouts in the three counties, she said, including high bluffs, steep backyards and skinny side-yards.

“That is what we do, we figure out everyone’s specific needs. It doesn’t matter what it is,” Brooke said. “This isn’t a cookie-cutter program.”

Propane is one of the cleanest energy choices as it emits less carbon dioxide than any other heating fuel.

Now, not only does Kitsap Propane sell it, the company also runs all its delivery trucks on the gas, estimated to reduce carbon monoxide by 28 tons per truck — the same as planting 10 acres of trees.

For a company that sells propane, the choice to power delivery trucks with it is business savvy. The business sense by no means stops there.

There are two things the employees at Kitsap Propane believe make them stand out: customer service and fair pricing.

“Anyone can sell propane, but for us it’s the customer service,” Henry said.

Sitting in Kitsap Propane’s yellow, home-like office-building, Henry takes call after call within an hour’s span.

Most calls coming in are comparing prices to competitors.

“Most people are in disbelief when we tell them what we sell ours for,” she said, explaining the company sells its propane at a fixed rate. “We don’t increase price for any other reason except when the cost of goods goes up for what we get it at.”

Oftentimes, Henry or Office Manager Patti Walden take calls and listen as soon-to-be new customers vent about how difficult it is to get problems solved with their current, soon-to-be former, propane service.

Propane, unlike electricity, isn’t a state-regulated utility, said Henry. Therefore, propane companies charge what they want.

“Many people don’t understand how other companies charge,” she said. “They feel they are at the mercy of what they want to charge that day. When people talk to us, they feel completely gouged by their last company.”

At Kitsap Propane, equality and fairness is the golden rule. For new and returning customers price is always the same.

“Yeah we want to reward our new customers but we don’t want to penalize our returning customers,” Henry said. “If you give someone a discount you are going to have to charge another person more to keep things even. That’s not fair.”

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