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Founded in 1968 by the late Pat Armentano, a man described by contemporaries as a “true entrepreneur,” Paraco Gas began as a distributor of welding supplies and industrial gas. Through a series of acquisitions and divestitures, the company narrowed its focus to propane gas in 1996 and today is one of the largest family owned and operated propane gas retailers in the US.
What fueled Paraco’s phenomenal growth is a rare combination of a family-run business emphasizing personalized service plus an acquisition strategy that has enabled Paraco to increase its customer base to 80,000 residential, commercial and wholesale customers in nine states.
Joseph Armentano, CEO, explains what makes Paraco unique: “We’re one of the few family-owned and operated privately held non-public companies that has the credit facility, financial wherewithal and management team to expand in the propane industry in a fairly aggressive and disciplined way.”
That dedication to expansion was demonstrated in 2006 when Paraco started its acquisitions department, led by VP John Armentano, Joseph’s brother. “The customers we inherit through acquisitions benefit from our status as a large regional marketer of propane because we have the ability to offer them the best value in services and products,” John asserts.
But perhaps Paraco’s greatest source of pride is its ability to remain true to the culture and core values the company was founded on and to remain a customer-focused family business throughout all of its acquisitions and growth. Paraco also strongly supports its business communities through involvement in a number of charities, youth sports organizations and local associations.
In addition to propane, Paraco has cultivated a mix of energy management products and energy-saving solutions for cooking, drying, hot water, pools and temporary and space heat. “We’re unique in this industry because we have operations in some non-traditional propane markets, like swimming pool heating and cooking,” explains Joseph Armentano. “We also have our own branded propane exchange tank business, so we’re not as dependent on winter as most companies in our industry.”
Currently, Paraco employs over 290 people and operates 28 propane distribution facilities in nine states, handling 40 million gallons of propane. Joseph Armentano predicts a bright future for propane as more effort is directed toward new product development in home/leisure and engine fuel. He is especially hopeful that the propane and natural gas industries will collaborate on developing a gas air conditioning product over the next 10 years, especially in high-electricity-use areas such as the Northeast. “The more we align ourselves with natural gas, especially on technology-related issues, the better off we are,” he says.
Remaining true to the entrepreneurial spirit of their father and founder, Pat Armentano, Paraco’s second generation of leaders continues to focus on what has always been at the company’s core: sales, marketing and especially customer service. Says John, “My father did a good job preparing the company for the next generation.”