I just arrived in Washington DC for the Propane Engine Fuel Summit. Many speakers will be here representing all areas of the propane industry and the use of propane in equipment and vehicles. It will be interesting to see what new ideas and technologies will be available for fleet managers as well as for my interest, the landscape and lawn maintenance industry.
Anyone that wants to listen can log in to the propane engine fuel summit and see the agenda and the video webinar of the speakers on the web.
Today I got a call from a contractor in Michigan. We both spoke a few months back and he was asking questions about the Roush/Ford F350 and if he would be able to switch over his company to propane. I gave him a few tips then to pursue.
His update after he worked on this for a few months sounded familiar. As he went out into the marketplace to find a distributor of propane, and a manufacturer of equipment, he was stopped in his tracks. Many in the propane industry told him that propane would not work well for trucks and maintenance equipment. Propane companies that delivered propane to homes and farms didn't want to help him in his quest. Equipment dealers aren't interested in selling equipment if it is not gasoline. Even when he said that his goal was to use 5000 gallons this year, they still were not interested in the hassle of finding all of the different pieces involved in converting and put them together for him.
He finally found a distributor that was willing to put in a fill station. He found a lawn equipment dealer willing to order two machines for him this Spring that he could purchase, and he is going to add a truck to his operations as well.
This process was all done with frustration and lack of help and knowledge from the groups that should be the experts. Landscape maintenance contractors are interested in switching over but the majority of them will quit before they get going. Having 1 or 2 machines in an entire fleet and occasionally using them to market green initiatives, or used during ozone days will not allow expansion of this alternative fuel. It will be a temporary use of propane and never catch on.
On Thursday I will be describing the contractors perspective on switching from gasoline to propane. We have been working on this for 2 years and are still not there yet.
Will we get there ? I believe that the answer is yes if we keep working with the truck and equipment manufacturers, propane distributors, and the propane industry and lobbyists that are working to promote propane as an alternative fuel.
I will update you on the progress.
Eric Hansen, President Competitive Lawn Service, Inc
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