Is Propane Right for You?

"Propane is a viable option for any size landscape company." Those aren't the words of a propane dealer trying to convince you to buy propane from them. They are the words of a landscape contractor named Josh Denison.

Denison isn't just talking about lawnmowers either. He sees an opportunity to switch over to propane-powered trucks.

"When all is said and done, we'll be at less than $2.60 per gallon on a regular basis for propane," Denison says. Just looking at fuel cost savings alone, Denison says his propane-powered trucks will ultimately pay for themselves.

Denison is the human resources and operations manager at D.C.-area Denison Landscaping & Nursery. He has become one of the Green Industry's leading proponents of propane. He spoke about the virtues of the Roush CleanTech propane autogas option in Ford's booth at the GIE+EXPO this past October. Denison now offers the following advice for contractors thinking about running propane-powered trucks.

Plan to go all in. Representatives from Roush CleanTech had initially approached Denison about switching to propane. Denison says he wasn't interested at first because a significant upfront cost would be necessary. However, he soon warmed up to the idea after learning more about the benefits of propane. Then a company called MetroLawn started pitching the concept of propane-powered mowers. Denison was now sold on the concept of propane, but wanted to start with trucks.

"If you're going to run a mower or two on propane, you might as well go full bore into it and make sure your trucks can also run on propane," Denison says. That's why he wanted to start off by purchasing a couple of propane-powered trucks for his managers to use. This gave Denison an opportunity to see how the trucks would perform. He's been pleased with the results, and now has the confidence to expand the use of propane in his operation—which will include the trucks his maintenance crews use.

Converting to propane has been roughly a six-month process for Denison Landscaping. Those first two manager trucks, Ford F-250s, were deployed in October 2010. Denison switched over to propane mowers in February. The process of replacing existing trucks with propane models is ongoing.

On-site fueling the way to go. Denison also plans to have on-site fueling capability at the maintenance division's yard this spring. "We want a 1,000- to 2,000-gallon tank that is dual-metered for on-road and off-road," Denison points out.

"Most of the potential vendors we've talked with are willing to capitalize the initial cost of the propane tank and amortize that cost through our fuel purchases over time," Denison continues. "So the process of getting a fueling station at your facility seems to be fairly simple. Still, we're taking our time in selecting a vendor. We want to make sure we make the right long-term decision for Denison Landscaping."

On that note, Denison Landscaping wants to make sure it makes the right decision when it comes to their propane trucks. "We'll stick with the Roush CleanTech system," Denison relates. "It has proved dependable and economical, and the service is there. Ford backs the warranty 100%, which is a nice thing."

Based in Fort Washington, MD, Denison Landscaping & Nursery also operates branches in South Heights, PA (Pittsburgh) and Delmar, DE. Visit denisonlandscaping.com for more information.

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