Blossman Propane Gas, Alliance & Service

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Blossman Founders Part III: The 1990s

This new decade began on a sad note with the loss of Blossman Gas founder and Chairman E.W. (Woody) Blossman on February 26, 1990. However, John Blossman assumed the duties of Chairman and appointed Bob Mayer as President, David Reynolds as Chief Financial Officer and Jessie Johnson as Vice President of Operations.

Heading into the new millennium, the Blossman Gas family included 77 branches with over 76 million gallons in sales – ranking Blossman number 11 in size in the U.S., and the largest independent, family-owned propane company in the country.

High Expansion Mode

The growth in their Greenville, SC, grass-roots branch had been so successful that the company jumped over into the fast growing mountain areas of western North Carolina and established a second grass-roots hub in Asheville in 1990.  

Blossman LeadershipIn 1991, with the company committed to capitalizing on the potential in the Carolinas, Tennessee, and hopefully Virginia, current CEO and President Stuart Weidie was brought into the company to eventually oversee the growth in these areas.

Additional branches Anderson and Walhalla, SC, spun-off from Greenville, SC, and from Asheville, branches in Sylva and Burnsville, NC, opened. In the same year, the company moved to Eastern NC, opening another “grass-roots” location in Greensboro. The company’s first branch in Tennessee was opened when the northern portion of the Lafayette, GA, branch became the Cleveland, TN, branch, and within two years another grass root start up in Elizabethton, TN, was opened.  With this flurry of growth activity happening in the northern areas of the company’s footprint, Blossman management was still on the lookout for expansion opportunities in the southern part of the U.S.  A new branch was added in central Mississippi with the acquisition of Weir Butane in Newton, MS, and growth in the Pensacola market resulted in another new branch in Milton, FL.

In 1996 the company’s growth potential was pinpointed toward the northern half of Alabama and Georgia, the western half of North Carolina, and the eastern section of Tennessee

In 1999, the State of Georgia deregulated its natural gas industry.  The largest natural gas utility in the state, Atlanta Gas Light (AGL), elected to divest in their retail business and retain only its pipeline and distribution infrastructure.  Many companies were formed to compete for the former AGL customers.  Blossman Gas recognized the potential of one such company- Peachtree Natural Gas, with 70,000 customers, and purchased a large interest in the company. Peachtree’s customer base grew to 140,000 quickly, but major infrastructure problems resulted in an inability to properly bill their customers. Blossman Gas took on unbilled receivables and the rights to the customer base, which was then sold to Shell Oil. This situation gave Blossman a new set of challenges to overcome as an investor.      

Mr. Al Allen set up a collections operation in Ocean Springs, MS, and successfully collected about 80% of the accounts.  With a strong austerity program in place and good cold weather, the company was back as strong as ever by the year 2000.

Thus, Blossman Gas ended the 20th century defining its resiliency over the previous half-century. However, the stage was already being set for yet another instance of the Blossman Gas people pulling together and overcoming adversity that would once again impact the company in 2005.

With Bob Mayer’s “final” retirement in the summer of 2001, Stuart Weidie was named President, and much like John Blossman’s first years, he led a full scale analysis of where the opportunities for future growth were and created the vision for the new decade ahead. 

Read the full Blossman Founders series:

Part I: The Early Years

Part II: The 1980s

Part III: The 1990s

Part IV: The New Century