Biz Buzz: Clean-energy trend fuels expansion at propane company

A family-owned propane marketer in Paso Robles has created a new division and brand to market its clean-energy “autogas” at California gas stations.

Arro Autogas, a part of Delta Liquid Energy, now operates four public propane autogas fueling locations in San Luis Obispo County and two in the Los Angeles area, with plans to have 10 fueling stations by the end of the year.

Delta Liquid Energy, co-owned by the Platz family of Atascadero, has been in business since 1936 and has always sold engine fuel propane, also called autogas.

However, the decision to create a new department was in response to a growing demand for cleaner auto fuel.

Propane is a byproduct of crude oil refining and natural gas processing that historically costs about one-third less than gasoline, said Arro Autogas market manager Ted Olsen.

Arro Autogas has 12 clients, including Ride-On in San Luis Obispo and repair companies with fleets that use the expanding network of fueling stations. Propane-fueled vehicles, produced only by Ford and General Motors, are used mostly for commercial purposes.

“As this network is built and becomes available,” Olsen said, “some of our target fleet customers will be the airport ride-share companies, beverage delivery companies, satellite/cable companies, plumber and medical transport services.”

Co-owner Bill Platz declined to disclose Delta Liquid Energy’s annual revenues, but he said autogas, which makes up 10 percent of the business, is poised to grow.

Delta Liquid Energy also sells propane for heating homes and commercial buildings and powering farm equipment.

The company has 110 employees. Three were recently promoted to accommodate the new brand.

Olsen, a six-year employee, leads the department. Troy Mack, a 19-year employee, has been promoted to Paso Robles branch manager to succeed Olsen. Ken Sauret was promoted to assistant manager of operations for the Paso Robles branch to take Mack’s position.

— Julia Hickey