By Jen Reed/ Photos by G. Frank Hart
As a prospective customer of a service company, it can be hard to look beyond where you will get the best price for what you need. But Holtzman Propane is different. A family-owned and operated entity, the pride of family history is felt in every location throughout Virginia, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. Holtzman Propane is an offshoot of Holtzman Oil, which was founded in 1972 by Bill Holtzman, who admittedly took a big chance that paid off. It was in 1997 that son Todd joined the operation when the decision was made to expand the business to propane. Bill tasked his son with building the business.
Having grown up under his father’s tutelage, Todd knew he was up for the challenge.
“I knew I wanted to return to work with the family business [after college],” says Todd. “While grateful for the infrastructure already in place to help me, I immersed myself in the propane industry, bought our first truck, hired our first driver and service technician, and spent several years not only trying to build the company but also delivering propane and performing service calls.” And that experience helped him adopt his management style.
“We try our best to care for our team like family and that means not asking my employees to do anything that I won’t do myself,” Todd says.
From Apples to Oil
Bill was born and raised in an apple-producing region of Virginia. After getting his master’s degree in horticulture at Cornell, he returned to his hometown of Mt. Jackson and went to work for a local apple production company, where he spent more than a decade. But the future of apples in the region had started to change and move overseas and when Bill found a local gulf distributor in Mt. Jackson for sale in 1972, he took the chance. Keeping his full-time job in the apple industry, with $5,000 cash he had saved and a loan taken on his Thunderbird, he purchased Nelson Oil Co.
With a young family to consider, he worked on the Gulf distributorship at night and on weekends for the next year, while maintaining full-time employment at his long-time job during the day. That hard work paid off as Holtzman Oil continued to grow, allowing Bill to leave the apple industry to focus on his expanding business.
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