How SchagrinGas grew its generator business

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Mark Wood, vice president of operations at SchagrinGas in Middletown, Delaware, shares information about the company’s generator business.

LPG: Can you explain the work you do on the generator side?

Wood

Wood: We are a Generac Elite Plus Dealerwe sell, install and service their residential and commercial standby generators.

LPG: Why get involved in the generator space – what drove the decision and when did it start?

Wood: We began selling generators in the mid to late 1990s to help some of our propane customers meet their backup power needs. Fears surrounding the year 2000 produced a surge in sales that cemented our place in the installation and service market. Over the past 20 years, home standby generators have gone from a luxury item to a “must have” for many people.

LPG: How many employees are involved in this segment and who installs the generator?

Wood: We have four locations that install generators throughout Delaware and parts of Maryland and Pennsylvania, and it’s usually a two-person crew to set up the generator and do the gas piping. We also have installation coordinators who plan the work and make sure permits and inspections are taken care of. Our generator installation crews also install the other gas appliances we sell and service, such as fireplace products, grills, tank and tankless water heaters, and HVAC equipment. We also have a full-time generator service technician who we keep busy performing routine maintenance and repairs in our higher density areas, as well as several other versatile technicians to provide coverage across the our customers.

LPG: Is this segment growing? How do you market this aspect of the business to customers?

Wood: It is growing and we usually see some seasonality with hurricane season and winter storms. Our region has experienced severe storms, including a rare tornado in August 2020, which boosted our sales, and we have seen a sustained increase in demand which we attribute to “work from home” customers impacted by the COVID pandemic. -19. We market using print, social media, radio, vehicle graphics, email and invoice mailings.

LPG: How much propane does a generator burn?

Wood: A typical residential air-cooled generator burns about 2-3 gallons per hour, depending on load. It can be a bit higher if everything is maxed out, but most people don’t have everything running full blast, 24 hours a day.

LPG: What kind of feedback do you get from customers?

Wood: Our customers love their generators. Generators provide the peace of mind that comes from knowing we can continue to enjoy the necessities and comfort items we’ve become accustomed to – heating, air conditioning, lights, internet connectivity and, here, sump pumps – no matter what. Mother Nature sends us. It takes control of your home instead of depending on the power supply.

Featured homepage photo courtesy of Generac

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