Propane marketers partner with Rinnai to add burner tips to homes

Ear­lier this year a small group of propane indus­try mem­bers, led by Randy Doyle from Bloss­man Gas, began meet­ing with Rin­nai to explore ways to add gas load to their res­i­den­tial propane cus­tomers and attract more res­i­den­tial propane busi­ness.  All propane mar­keters have been suf­fer­ing through warm win­ters, con­ser­va­tion, and the load shav­ing effects of a bad econ­omy, but this group came together in a part­ner­ship with Rin­nai to find ways to over­come losses due to energy switch­ing, espe­cially to elec­tric­ity.  The Part­ner­ship “Group” is explor­ing ways to add burner tips to each exist­ing propane home and to max­i­mize the num­ber of burner tips in new homes being built.  The Group is com­mit­ting to try harder to con­trol the controllable.

Rin­nai appeared to be a log­i­cal choice for an ini­tial part­ner­ship with the propane indus­try mem­ber group.  Rin­nai is the num­ber 1 sell­ing brand of gas tan­k­less water heaters in North Amer­ica.  A sub­stan­tial amount of Rinnai’s tan­k­less water heater busi­ness is in propane mod­els.  When you exam­ine Rinnai’s global mar­ket­ing per­spec­tive, it also offers a wide range of kitchen and laun­dry appli­ances, heat­ing and air con­di­tion­ing units and other unique gas equip­ment for res­i­den­tial use.  Many of these prod­ucts are not cur­rently being offered for sale in the U.S., and the Group is explor­ing that port­fo­lio of prod­ucts to see where new burner tip oppor­tu­ni­ties may lie.

The Group also func­tions with Rin­nai as an advi­sory group on new prod­uct devel­op­ment, design, and com­mer­cial­iza­tion.  The Group’s objec­tive is to “organ­i­cally grow Res­i­den­tial gal­lons by dis­plac­ing other fuel sources, mainly elec­tric­ity, with propane burn­ing appli­ances that are:  1) high qual­ity; 2) depend­able; 3) func­tional; 4) inno­v­a­tive; and 5) priced com­pet­i­tively to meet the wide range of cus­tomer needs served by the propane part­ners.”  This objec­tive is meant to help all propane mar­keters will­ing to com­mit to try­ing harder, along with the Group.  Rin­nai seems to have lots of poten­tial to assist with the objective.

Some of the Part­ner­ship Group’s Lead­er­ship Team Randy Doyle, Bloss­man Gas Mike Pea­cock, Rin­nai Heat­ing and Energy Devel­op­ment Man­ager Tom Jaenicke, ATomiK Cre­ative Solutions

 There are over a dozen ini­tia­tives under study by the Part­ner­ship Group with 7 of them deal­ing directly with bring­ing unique new res­i­den­tial propane prod­ucts to mar­ket.  The Group is also look­ing at effec­tive ways to mar­ket to the res­i­den­tial chan­nel, sales train­ing for the propane indus­try, and plumber edu­ca­tion to make them believ­ers in tan­k­less water heaters, and the oppor­tu­ni­ties list goes on.


What the Rinnai/Propane Part­ner­ship is not 

This is not a plan to inter­rupt or inter­fere with the nation­wide dis­tri­b­u­tion sys­tem that Rin­nai has estab­lished.  Rinnai’s dis­tri­b­u­tion sys­tem has been suc­cess­ful to date, but there may be ways to make that sys­tem even more pro­duc­tive and effec­tive as we go for­ward.  I am sure dis­trib­u­tors will have full voice in those types of deci­sions, if it comes to that.   This is not a buy­ing group to get cut rate prices from Rin­nai or its dis­trib­u­tors.  Price is not the issue here.  The issue is hav­ing the right prod­ucts in the hands of the right mar­keters with the right knowl­edge to sell those prod­ucts to propane con­sumers.  If more sales vol­ume ends up bring­ing bet­ter pric­ing, so be it.

This is not a move to cut PERC from the pic­ture or dupli­cate its efforts.  In fact, PERC Pres­i­dent Roy Willis and Brid­get Scan­lon, PERC Direc­tor of Res­i­den­tial and Com­mer­cial Mar­kets, have given full sup­port to the Group’s efforts and recently become involved in the Group meet­ings to find ways to assist and pro­vide PERC resources if needed.  Oth­ers from the PERC staff and Swan­son Rus­sell, PERC’s adver­tis­ing agency, also have been involved in the meet­ings.  PERC has bud­geted heav­ily in the auto­gas and engine fuel mar­ket for next year, but seems eager to help in the res­i­den­tial area where new gal­lons are avail­able.  Propane mar­keters are start­ing to speak up about the need for more help from PERC in pro­tect­ing and grow­ing the res­i­den­tial mar­ket, the largest seg­ment of the retail propane mar­ket in the U.S., and PERC seems to be listening.

If you are inter­ested in join­ing the Part­ner­ship Group or find­ing out more about it, con­tact Randy Doyle at or me.  Our motto is:  “There is no rea­son for an all-electric home in the U.S.”

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