Minden propane company offers more than gas

Sonny Weathers, manager of Universal Propane in Minden, couldn't have picked a colder winter to go into business, though he attributes the company's success in the last year to more than below-zero temperatures.

"Business has been great," said the 52-year-old Carson City resident, who started driving propane trucks in Fallon in 1979. "There's a real need for competition in the area, not just because of the high price of propane, but also the level of customer service. We get more customers based on our customer service than on prices."

Located off Airport Road, Universal Propane is a two-man, two-truck operation, Weathers and driver Ron Smith. With a parent company in Southern California, the Minden duo offers both cylinder exchange and bulk propane for residential, commercial and agricultural customers.

"We handle customers from Reno to Topaz, from Tahoe to Yerington," Weathers said. "When people deal with us, they only pay for gas. They call in, and we give them a fair price per gallon and don't charge any hidden fees."

Weathers said Universal Propane is offering free installation, free tank rental for a year and free safety inspections, with no delivery, hazmat or fuel surcharges.

"We're growing like crazy," he said. "People are happy to see us."

Although the two-man team is holding down the fort for now, Weathers hopes to have another driver by next fall.

"It's not as cut and dry as manager/driver," Weathers said. "We do everything. That's the way it is in propane. Everybody works every job. The good thing is that when a customer calls in with a concern, they can talk to one of us, to a local."

Smith, a former Marine and Gardnerville resident, said good business is all about working well with people.

"When you walk a customer through a safety inspection and explain to them what's going on, they really appreciate it," Smith said.

Universal Propane is located at 1081 Airport Road. Regular business hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call 782-0400 for more information.

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