The History and the Stories of Blossman Founders in a four-part series. Part IV
With President Bob Mayer’s retirement in the summer of 2001, the Blossman Gas Board named Stuart Weidie President. Much like his stepfather, John Blossman in his early years, Weidie exhibited an uncanny ability to lead analysis of future growth opportunities, then create and execute an action plan for implementation.
To facilitate the continuing growth of the company, Blossman took steps to implement a long range plan to upgrade its infrastructure. In 2004 and 2005, the company installed handheld computers at all branch locations, and a task force started working on the first major upgrade of the company’s financial reporting and customer accounting software in twenty five years. By the end of the decade, with the help of virtually every employee, all of the company’s software systems were state-of-the art, giving Blossman the capability to serve twice the current customer base.
The company also reached its goal of moving into Virginia by starting four new branches in Virginia (Fredericksburg and Gordonsville, in 2003, Bedford and Staunton in 2005, and Berryville in 2006), and acquiring a fifth when it purchased Virginia Propane, in Bedford, Virginia.
In August of 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, severely impacting thousands in in the US, including Blossman’s home office in Ocean Springs, MS, and 15 other southeastern branches, leaving employees homeless and shutting down the company’s computer network. Within hours of the disaster, employees from all over the company began descending on the Coast to help clean up the devastation. The volunteer effort led by Blossman employees enabled Blossman Gas to re-open, providing customers, government and non-profit relief agencies with propane and equipment services, such as propane-powered generators. Within days of the storm, Blossman purchased mobile homes and rented spaces in mobile home parks for its homeless employees – at no cost to their families.
In 2007, the Board named David Reynolds Chief Operating Officer. Industry veteran, Randy Doyle, also joined the company that year as Chief Financial Officer, undertaking responsibility for finances and implementation of the new information technology vision and infrastructure.
With a strong leadership team in place, Stuart Weidie began to look for new opportunities to again grow the business and level out the seasonal peaks and valleys of gas sales. He and the company officers brought many new ideas for increasing sales: appliances, lawnmowers, generators, tankless water heaters, autogas, and reticulated systems for housing developments, to name a few.
Alliance AutoGas, founded by Blossman Gas in 2009 to promote propane as a vehicle fuel (called autogas), experienced steady growth that continues through the present time. Alliance AutoGas is an international network providing a comprehensive propane autogas solution to medium and heavy-duty fleets; an industry leader in the sustainable alternative fuel market. Alliance AutoGas is comprised of more than 120 independent propane marketers and authorized conversion centers throughout North America. Alliance’s partners are aligned to provide propane and propane autogas for vehicle fleets and lawn care companies throughout North America. This group of partners is also engaged in offering EPA certified small engines systems through their small engines division, Alliance Small Engines.
On March 30, 2009, John Blossman passed away following a long, courageous battle with cancer, leaving the entire company in mourning for one of the “kindest men who ever lived”, as the Blossman family knew him. John Blossman defined the culture of the company that bore his name, and become one of the most respected leaders in the propane industry. Even as the members of his Blossman Gas family mourned him, his legacy and spirit inspired them to move forward with strength and purpose into the next decade, determined to lift Blossman Gas to new heights.
The second decade of the 21st century opened with Blossman Gas, Inc., emerging from the loss of its beloved Chairman, John Blossman, and continuing in a high growth period.
In the year 2010, the company acquired the propane operations of McCombs Oil Co., of Morganton, NC, and consolidated their customers into the Blossman branch in nearby Hickory, NC. Shortly thereafter, they acquired Leco Gas, Inc., of Canton, GA, and began consolidating its operations into the Blossman Cartersville, GA branch. These acquisitions were quickly followed by the purchase of Uneeda Gas, in Alexander City, AL which was folded into the Opelika, AL Blossman branch.
In 2012, Blossman expanded into the Miami, FL market with its acquisition of Green Tech Energy Solutions. Five acquisitions took place in one year (2014). They included Ankney Propane Plus in Ocala, FL; Palmetto Gas in Hilton Head area, SC; Lassetter Propane in Newnan, Ga; Blue Flame Gas in Douglasville, GA; Dade Gas in Lafayette, GA; and Dixie Gas in West Chesterfield, VA. In 2015, Blossman then expanded in Jacksonville, FL with the Southern Propane acquisition.
Two milestone events were seen in 2013 and 2014. Blossman Services, Inc. became the exclusive United States distributor of Westport’s Prins Autogas products, and in October of 2014, Alliance AutoGas and Blossman Services, Inc. opened their Alliance AutoGas Research & Development Center in Asheville, NC.
Blossman continued to play a large leadership role in the propane industry as Blossman President and CEO, Stuart Weidie became the Chairman of the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) in 2016. Randy Doyle, Blossman’s Chief Financial Officer, became a Council member of the Propane Education and Research Council (PERC) in 2015, and David Reynolds, Blossman’s Chief Operating Officer, was named PERC’s Chairman of the Research and Technology Development Advisory Committee in 2016.
Now, as Blossman Gas, Inc. approaches 70 years of service, its 800+ employees and 150,000+ customers can look back with pride at the legacy of a company that has overcome numerous obstacles to reach the point where it is today – a family held company that is prospering in its third generation of family ownership, a company that continues to fulfill and surpass its founder’s dreams, and a company that truly exists for the benefit of its employees so that they may in turn give superior service to Blossman Gas customers.
Updated June 2018