Home Builders Find Propane a Favorable Energy Source

Builders were propane buy­ers at the Inter­na­tional Builders Show

The 2012 Inter­na­tional Builders Show (IBS) held in Orlando, FL last month showed a mod­est increase in atten­dance.  Over 50,000 atten­dees and 900 exhibits still makes this one of the largest trade events in the coun­try, in spite of the down­turn in the build­ing indus­try.  Propane was well rep­re­sented in the gas indus­tries exhibit with the Propane Edu­ca­tion & Research Coun­cil (PERC) part­ner­ing with the Amer­i­can Gas Asso­ci­a­tion and over a dozen gas prod­ucts man­u­fac­tur­ers.  These equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers included Gen­erac and Marathon Engine Sys­tems show­ing off new gen­er­a­tor and com­bined heat and power (CHP) tech­nol­ogy devel­oped through PERC grants.

The gas exhibit had lots of traf­fic with nearly 1500 builders vis­it­ing the exhibit and reg­is­ter­ing for more infor­ma­tion about propane and related prod­ucts. Total builder leads from PERC activ­i­ties at IBS should total over 18,000.  Expect to see them posted on the Propane MaRC in the com­ing weeks.  Propane indus­try sup­port from the field to pro­vide vol­un­teers for the exhibit was weak for this event with sev­eral com­pa­nies pulling out at the last minute.  We should all thank Fer­rell­gas and Lib­erty Propane for pro­vid­ing great vol­un­teers to work with builders vis­it­ing the exhibit.  They were kept very busy.

All of the builders stop­ping by seemed favor­able toward propane and had great ques­tions regard­ing a project or two of which they were work­ing and how propane could fit into them.  Two broth­ers who are HVAC con­trac­tors in propane coun­try near Louisville spent over an hour with the Marathon rep­re­sen­ta­tives dis­cussing how CHP could fit into their projects instead of geot­her­mal.  I talked with Jim from Arkansas who wanted to know if propane rather than elec­tric­ity could ful­fill his energy needs in his soon to be con­structed 2,800 sq. ft. hunt­ing lodge.  By the time we were done talk­ing, I walked him over to the Ther­mador sec­tion of the exhibit and he was pick­ing out his gas range.  And there was Bill from Idaho who wanted to know about propane tan­k­less water heaters for a ski lodge project on which he is bid­ding.  Don from Ohio was inter­ested in learn­ing about propane tanks that can be installed under­ground on some of his cus­tom home projects.  Matt from Penn­syl­va­nia has been build­ing about 15 homes a year on propane and wanted to know more about being able to offer standby gen­er­a­tors as an option for his clients.  There were 4 dif­fer­ent builders or devel­op­ers who were look­ing for more infor­ma­tion on com­mu­nity propane sys­tems for projects they will start in the spring.  Robert stopped by and was hav­ing prob­lems get­ting a propane com­pany to per­form a site visit to deter­mine tank loca­tion and pip­ing needs for a cus­tom home he is build­ing for a client in South­ern Florida.  The home will be 18,000 sq. ft. in size and will have 5 propane tan­k­less water heaters and numer­ous other propane appli­ca­tions through­out the home and back­yard.  And then there was the woman builder from New Mex­ico who attended a PERC spon­sored “Meet the Experts” ses­sion who planned the pur­chase of 4 propane standby gen­er­a­tors for projects on which she is work­ing.
These are just a few exam­ples of the high qual­ity of the builder traf­fic stop­ping by the exhibit.  It helped to have the high qual­ity hand­out mate­ri­als that PERC pro­vided, such as the new Propane Tech­ni­cal Pocket Guide that gives com­par­isons between propane, nat­ural gas, heat­ing oil, and elec­tric­ity.  The Pocket Guide pro­vides con­tainer loca­tion infor­ma­tion, pipe siz­ing charts, and other tech­ni­cal infor­ma­tion a builder may need to access on the job site.  Another pop­u­lar part on the propane exhibit was a big screen mon­i­tor that had the PERC con­struc­tion pro­fes­sional web site online so builders could try out sev­eral online tools such as the Energy Cost and Car­bon Cal­cu­la­tor.

Builder atti­tudes at IBS were guard­edly opti­mistic about build­ing activ­ity in 2012 based on the pos­i­tive response they are get­ting from prospec­tive home buy­ers.  Cus­tom home buy­ers seem to be lead­ing the shift in sen­ti­ment and direc­tion, and that is good news for the propane indus­try.  Large cus­tom homes in propane coun­try have always been our sweet spot for new busi­ness.  Don’t expect dra­matic changes this year, but it is def­i­nitely time to con­nect with builders and remod­el­ers in your area and turn favor­a­bil­ity into propane sales.

If you want to inter­act with trade pro­fes­sion­als, you should vol­un­teer to work at the JLC Live res­i­den­tial con­struc­tion show in Prov­i­dence, RI on March 21–24.  PERC will share exhibit space with the Propane Gas Asso­ci­a­tion of New Eng­land and sev­eral prod­ucts man­u­fac­tur­ers at the Rhode Island Con­ven­tion Cen­ter.  You can find more details at www.newengland.jlclive.com.


Tom Jaenicke is the owner and prin­ci­pal advi­sor at ATomiK Cre­ative Solu­tions, LLC, a com­pany that pro­vides mar­ket­ing ser­vices, tech­ni­cal advice, con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion solu­tions, and busi­ness devel­op­ment assis­tance to energy com­pa­nies and sup­port orga­ni­za­tions.  He can be reached at 810 252‑7855 or tom@atomikenergysolutions.com.  Con­nect on Face­book and LinkedIn