Crystal Flash Secures First Three AutoGas Customers in Michigan

Energy Distributor Helps Municipalities, School Districts Save Money,

Improve the Environment by Switching to Propane

Grand Rapids, Michigan, June 3, 2013 – After joining Alliance AutoGas Network six months ago, Crystal Flash™ has secured its first three Michigan customers.

The Grand Rapids-based energy distribution company has been working with Flint Mass Transportation Authority, Charlotte Public Schools and Reed City Area Schools to supply their vans and buses with propane autogas, a fuel that is nearly as efficient and powerful as gasoline or diesel – but with virtually no tailpipe emissions.

The largest of these, Flint MTA will bring 60 new propane-powered regional vans into service on June 15 on its way to building a fleet of 92 within the next year. Reed City has purchased and put six new propane buses into service while Charlotte has replaced five of its old diesel buses with new propane vehicles.

All three operations agree that the new propane-powered vehicles provide a quieter ride, cost less to run and require less maintenance. They also get up to speed faster than their diesel counterparts and boast a faster take-off after stopping.

“We welcome Flint MTA, Charlotte and Reed City schools to the Alliance AutoGas family,” said Crystal Flash President Tom Fehsenfeld. “Autogas is a smart choice for many light-duty vehicles from both a financial and environmental perspective.

“We were gratified to help these three forward-thinking organizations make the switch to propane and look forward to securing even more converts to autogas – a cleaner and more affordable alternative fuel option.”

Unlike ethanol, biodiesel and other alternative fuels, propane autogas is cheaper to produce and easier to supply. Fleets that run on autogas currently save approximately $1.50 per gallon over those that utilize gasoline. It is also about 1/15 of the cost to build an autogas station than one compressed natural gas, or CNG, station.

That was critical in Flint MTA’s decision to make the switch, according to General Manager and CEO Edgar Benning. When the transport authority – which serves seniors, the disabled and other passengers in 640 square miles around Flint – began taking a hard look at cutting costs, it didn’t take long to settle on autogas as the best option among alternative fuel sources.

“Given the job losses and impact of the real estate bubble in our community, we had to find ways to reduce costs while doing the responsible thing for our environment,” Benning explained. “We looked at hydrogen, natural gas and other fuels, but they all had significant barriers to entry. With autogas, we had no special storage requirements and found it relatively easy to train the drivers on how to fuel the vehicles.

“Everything about the conversion was a win-win. Those who have had a chance to ride the new propane-powered vehicles we have in service think they are really exceptional – quieter, yet lots of pep that delivers an outstanding performance.”

Benning said that Flint MTA experimented with its first two propane vans in 2011 before jumping in in a big way this year. Its upcoming delivery of 60 new vans will allow it to replace most of its current fleet vehicles, which have anywhere from 350,000 to 700,000 miles on them.

Flint MTA also has funds and will begin to purchase 34 mid-sized buses, similar to those used by school districts. Combined, the two fleets should have 150-160 propane-powered vehicles by the spring of 2014 – giving Flint the largest propane fleet in the country.

The savings have already started to add up. From an environmental standpoint, Flint MTA has reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 60 percent with its new vehicles. Benning estimates they will reduce fuel and maintenance expenses by $500,000 this year. As more vehicles come online, that will jump to $750,000 in 2014 and beyond.

While the numbers aren’t in for the Charlotte school year, Belinda Hoyle said the district is already saving on fuel and maintenance with the five new propane-fueled buses that are in operation. Charlotte Public Schools operates 16 routes that cover 124 square miles of territory south of Lansing, and Hoyle eventually wants to replace all of her diesel-burning buses with new propane models.

“The buses are quieter than my car,” said Hoyle, transportation supervisor for the district. “They require fewer oil changes and less replacement parts. While we are getting fewer miles to the gallon, the propane is cheap enough that it has made up the difference in the costs. We see the financial and environmental benefits to using cleaner-burning fuel.”

Hoyle encourages other districts to do their research and compare conversion and operating costs when considering a switch to propane. For Charlotte, the initial investment has been worth it – particularly since the district was able to secure a grant from the EPA to offset some of the costs.

Paul Lewis in Reed City agrees. His district, situated equidistant between Grand Rapids and Traverse City, purchased six new propane-powered buses this year to carry students on six of their 15 routes, which cover over 215 square miles.

The driving force behind that switch was the price, Lewis notes. While propane-fueled buses are a little more expensive upfront, the lower fuel and maintenance costs make them worthwhile over the long term.

“Crystal Flash has been a great partner,” noted Lewis, facilities and transportation director. “They put in a filling station with their equipment, so we didn’t have to buy our own. They resolved what few start-up problems we had, and our program is now up and running well.

“Everyone should take a serious look at making the transition. The savings are there – and you’re not polluting in the same way.”

About Crystal Flash™

Crystal Flash™ is a third-generation family-owned energy distribution company focused on commercial and residential customers throughout the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Established in 1932, Crystal Flash has grown as the demand for energy has evolved, and today concentrates on the sale and distribution of propane, diesel and other fuels. Today, the company is one of the largest independently owned energy suppliers in the state with more than 250 employees in 11 locations. For more information, visit us online at www.crystalflash.com.

 About Alliance AutoGas

Alliance AutoGas enables fleet managers to use clean, economical, American-made autogas through vehicle conversions, on-site fueling and ongoing safety training and technical support. The Alliance AutoGas partner network of international propane marketers and conversion centers is experiencing tremendous growth, currently spanning 40 states, Washington D.C., and now the provinces of Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba in Canada. For fleets interested in new propane autogas-powered vehicles, Alliance also provides OEM vehicles through partnerships with automotive experts at ROUSH CleanTech as part of the complete program. Learn more at www.allianceautogas.com.

 

Crystal Flash Adds CA Murphy, Expands Footprint in Michigan

Grand Rapids, Michigan, May 2, 2013 – Crystal Flash™ announced today that it has acquired some of the assets of Sturgis-based CA Murphy, its fifth acquisition in the past 16 months.

The Grand Rapids-based energy distribution company will now be able to expand its service to residential and commercial customers in the Michigan-Indiana border area. The transaction is expected to be accretive to earnings.

 “We are very pleased to welcome CA Murphy to Crystal Flash,” said Crystal Flash President Tom Fehsenfeld. “As we look to strengthen our footprint in Michigan and expand further into the Great Lakes states, we will continue to pursue the path of acquisitions. Our company is financially strong and well positioned to grow.”

 Located at 1100 N. Clay Street, Sturgis, CA Murphy opened its doors in 1976 and delivers home heating fuel, as well as commercial and agricultural fuels. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

 “We are very pleased to join Crystal Flash,” said Kelly Murphy, president and CEO of CA Murphy. “For more than 30 years, we have worked diligently to establish a company focused on providing exceptional customer service. We are pleased that our reputation for excellence will continue under the Crystal Flash name.”

 Since January of 2012, Crystal Flash has also acquired:

  • Drakes Fuel Service in Schoolcraft
  • Elliott Gas & Oil in Gladwin
  • Leelanau Propane in Northport
  • Heartland Propane in Hart

 The Charter Group serves as the exclusive merger and acquisition advisor to Crystal Flash.

 

Crystal Flash Adds Heartland Propane, Expands Footprint in Michigan

Grand Rapids, Michigan, DATE – Crystal Flash™ announced today that it has acquired Hart-based Heartland Propane, LLC, its fourth acquisition in 2012.

 The Grand Rapids-based energy distribution company will now be able to better serve residential and commercial customers in the Newaygo-Muskegon-Hesperia area, including Hart, Shelby, Fremont, Pentwater and other locations. The transaction, which will add one new employee to Crystal Flash, is expected to be accretive to earnings.

 “We are delighted to welcome Heartland Propane to the growing Crystal Flash family,” said President Tom Fehsenfeld. “Terry enjoys an excellent reputation in our industry, and his ‘coffee shop recruiting methods’ have helped build a loyal following. Heartland Propane will be an excellent addition to Crystal Flash, allowing us to grow our customer base in the Newaygo area.

 Located at 5550 N. Oceana Drive, Heartland Propane was launched eight years ago by industry veteran Terry Dykema, who will retire after the acquisition is finalized. The company provides propane to commercial and residential customers in a 20-mile area in Hart and Pentwater of West Michigan. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

“We are very pleased to join Crystal Flash,” said Dykema, Heartland Propane president. “As another family-owned, Michigan-based company, our values and mission to provide exceptional customer service align very much with Tom and the organization he is building.

“With their resources, technology and propane service, I believe Crystal Flash has the potential to further enhance the service options we provide to our customers.”

About Crystal Flash™

Crystal Flash™ is a third-generation family-owned energy distribution company focused on commercial and residential customers throughout the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Established in 1932, Crystal Flash has grown as the demand for energy has evolved, and today concentrates on the sale and distribution of propane, diesel and other fuels. Today, the company is one of the largest independently owned energy suppliers in the state with more than 250 employees in 11 locations. For more information, visit us online at www.crystalflash.com.

 

Crystal Flash Joins Alliance AutoGas Network as Exclusive Dealer in Michigan

The Grand Rapids-based energy distribution company will provide a complete program to help regional fleets to switch to propane autogas, a fuel that is nearly as efficient and powerful as gasoline or diesel – but with virtually no tailpipe emissions. Engines that use autogas, which is growing in popularity in Europe as a green alternative fuel, run cleaner, cost less to run and require less maintenance.

As a new partner in the international Alliance AutoGas network, Crystal Flash will offer vehicle conversions, autogas fuel station installation at the customer’s location, safety and operational training, and ongoing technical support to commercial customers in virtually every county of the state.

“Fleets are looking for affordable alternative fuel options now more than ever, so it was important to us to partner with Alliance AutoGas to get Michigan fleets running on clean, affordable, American-made autogas,” said Crystal Flash President Tom Fehsenfeld. “The Alliance network is growing to meet the needs of fleets wanting to cut fuel costs with a domestic clean fuel, and we're proud to be a part of it.”

Unlike ethanol, biodiesel and other alternative fuels, propane autogas is cheaper to produce and easier to supply. Fleets that run on autogas currently save approximately $1.50 per gallon over those that utilize gasoline. It is also about 1/15 of the cost to build an autogas station than one compressed natural gas, or CNG, station.

“Crystal Flash is a welcome addition to the Alliance AutoGas partner network, as they extend our reach to serve more fleets in Michigan,” said Stuart Weidie, president of Alliance AutoGas and founder of Autogas for America. “While state governors lobby Detroit to produce more natural gas vehicles, we're already helping real fleets – business owners, government agencies, public transportation and more – switch to the most practical vehicle fuel, propane autogas.”

David Dykstra, commercial sales manager for Crystal Flash, said the company expects its new relationship with Alliance AutoGas to have a positive effect on its bottom line in 2013.

He said that autogas would be a smart choice for many light-duty vehicles, from police cars and school buses to delivery vans and service trucks. Dykstra explained that fleets using more than 175 gallons of fuel each month would save money by making the switch to autogas. Initial conversion costs range between $5,000-6,000, with savings realized almost immediately through its vehicle and infrastructure leasing programs.

“We are incredibly excited to join the growing network of Alliance AutoGas dealers,” Dykstra said. “The ability to offer current and new customers such an effective, efficient and green alternative fuel will help Crystal Flash continue to grow. We continue to be on the leading edge in fuel and energy distribution.”

 About Crystal Flash

Crystal Flash is a third-generation family-owned energy distribution company focused on commercial and residential customers throughout the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Established in 1932, Crystal Flash has grown as the demand for energy has evolved, and today concentrates on the sale and distribution of propane, diesel and other fuels. Today, the company is one of the largest independently owned energy suppliers in the state with more than 250 employees in 11 locations. For more information, visit us online at www.crystalflash.com.

 About Alliance AutoGas

Alliance AutoGas enables fleet managers to use clean, economical, American-made autogas through vehicle conversions, on-site fueling and ongoing safety training and technical support. The Alliance AutoGas partner network of international propane marketers and conversion centers is experiencing tremendous growth, currently spanning 40 states, Washington D.C., and now the provinces of Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba in Canada. For fleets interested in new propane autogas-powered vehicles, Alliance also provides OEM vehicles through partnerships with automotive experts at ROUSH CleanTech as part of the complete program. Learn more at www.allianceautogas.com. 

Click Here for PDF Version of this Press Release

 

Crystal Flash Announces Acquisition of Leelanau Propane

September 21, 2012 - Crystal Flash is proud to announce the acquisition of Leelanau Propane of Northport, Michigan.  With this recent acquisition, Crystal Flash continues to expand its area of operations in the northwest lower peninsula.

Sander Scott, former owner of Leelanau Propane, expressed excitement that his former customers would still be serviced locally out of the Crystal Flash office in Traverse City.  He said, "I've found a great partner in Crystal Flash.  I believe Crystal Flash has the potential to further enhance the customer's service options."

 

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