Holtzman Propane brings family values and superior service to Cape Fear
By Jen Reed » Photos by G. Frank Hart
As a prospective customer of a service company, it can be hard to look beyond where you will get the best price for what you need. But Holtzman Propane is different. A family-owned and operated entity, the pride of family history is felt in every location throughout Virginia, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.
Holtzman Propane is an offshoot of Holtzman Oil, which was founded in 1972 by Bill Holtzman, who admittedly took a big chance that paid off. It was in 1997 that son Todd joined the operation when the decision was made to expand the business to propane. Bill tasked his son with building the business. Having grown up under his father’s tutelage, Todd knew he was up for the challenge.
“I knew I wanted to return to work with the family business [after college],” says Todd. “While grateful for the infrastructure already in place to help me, I immersed myself in the propane industry, bought our first truck, hired our first driver and service technician, and spent several years not only trying to build the company but also delivering propane and performing service calls.” And that experience helped him adopt his management style.
“We try our best to care for our team like family and that means not asking my employees to do anything that I won’t do myself,” Todd says.
From apples to oil
Bill was born and raised in an apple-producing region of Virginia. After getting his master’s degree in horticulture at Cornell, he returned to his hometown of Mt. Jackson and went to work for a local apple production company, where he spent more than a decade. But the future of apples in the region had started to change and move overseas and when Bill found a local gulf distributor in Mt. Jackson for sale in 1972, he took the chance. Keeping his full-time job in the apple industry, with $5,000 cash he had saved and a loan taken on his Thunderbird, he purchased Nelson Oil Co.
With a young family to consider, he worked on the Gulf distributorship at night and on weekends for the next year, while maintaining full-time employment at his long-time job during the day. That hard work paid off as Holtzman Oil continued to grow, allowing Bill to leave the apple industry to focus on his expanding business.
According to Todd, Holtzman Propane has been interested in expanding beyond Virginia for years but takes a careful approach in looking for the right combination of people to help expand to locations where services are needed. Late last year, the first location in North Carolina opened in Holly Ridge, led by Regional Manager and lifelong North Carolina resident, Mitch Rose.
The Holly Ridge location not only offers propane service but also top-of-the-line propane-powered fireplaces, fireplace inserts, log sets, cast iron stoves, tankless water heaters and more. All stores are also design centers, with highly trained propane product specialists who can help develop completely customized solutions for a customer’s home or business. The location is unique with an outdoor showroom, displaying grills, outdoor fireplaces, and other outdoor heating options.
But Holtzman Propane doesn’t want to be known just for superior product offerings. Todd says they pride themselves on top-quality customer service.
“In the era of dial-around customer service, we always want our customers to reach a real-live person when calling,” he explains. “It’s important to us that we are good employers, neighbors, and citizens in every community we operate in and provide not only delivery of fairly priced propane but a full-service department to help support our customers’ appliances and systems.”
Todd adds they also take great care to ensure employees thrive within the business. The company takes an unconventional approach to how off-season work is handled.
“Propane is generally a sought-after resource throughout the late fall and winter, and traditionally many propane companies would hire delivery staff at the beginning of the season and let them go when business is complete for that season,” says Todd. “We wanted to make sure our team had reliable jobs year-round, which is why we began Valley Ice, an ice manufacturing and distribution company.”
Many of the propane employees work in Valley Ice in late spring and summer, during peak ice production and delivery season, providing consistent work and employment for what used to be more part-time seasonal work. Valley Ice also recently expanded into North Carolina, with the acquisitions of Eastern Ice in Bayboro and Rose Ice in Wilmington.
“We are grateful for this opportunity to grow the Holtzman team and provide valuable service to North Carolina,” says Todd.
Holtzman Propane prides itself as a full-service propane provider, which not every propane company is. From propane product sales and professional installation to reliable delivery and service, they do it all.
“We are here to serve our customers as best we can, no matter how long it takes,” he says. “With the friendly staff in our office to our detail-oriented techs out in the field to our responsive call center team, every employee working with Holtzman Propane is local.”
For more information, contact Holtzman Propane at 888-306-4243.