This month, Holtzman Propane will celebrate the opening of the Holtzman Propane Fireplace Store in Purcellville in the shopping complex the parent company actually created. But, as Holtzman Propane GM Todd Holtzman assures us, the Holtzman’s aren’t newcomers to Loudoun County. Todd’s father Bill Holtzman started Holtzman Oil, the largest oil company in the region, with just $5,000 cash and a loan on his Thunderbird 50 years ago in 1972. Holtzman Oil now provides gasoline and diesel to more than 150 area gas stations, supplies home heating oil and a full array of lubricants products to commercial and residential customers throughout the area. Holtzman Oil and Holtzman Propane together employ nearly 400 people. Holtzman Propane serves more than 22,000 customers.
Holtzman Propane was founded in 1997, the year Todd graduated from Virginia Tech, and is also celebrating an anniversary, in this case, its 25th. For all those decades, the company has been a reliable supporter of community causes and organizations, including Patrick Henry College, adjacent to the shopping complex where the new fireplace store is located. Such giving has always been done “discreetly,” says Todd, though he added, “We believe that when you make your living in the community you need to be a good member of the community and you need to give back.”
Todd prefers to promote offering great, dependable service that makes their customers’ lives easier, which is also an aspect of being a good neighbor. “When we’re your propane supplier, that is one less thing to worry about in your home,” he added.
Another reason for Todd’s passion for his business is that, “Propane is a very clean burning fuel, so it’s environmentally friendly. There are no contamination risks with propane because if there’s a leak, it vaporizes.” Moreover, “It's a domestic product. We have tremendous domestic production of natural gas and propane in North America, so that's creating jobs here. And, propane is portable, so it can go wherever you need it.”
Propane also is versatile: you can heat your home and your water, cook with it and dry your clothes. It supports outdoor living by fueling your grill. It powers gas fireplaces and space heaters which can address specific issues in both heating and decorative needs for homeowners. Gas generators provide power in the case of power outages from other power-generating systems. “You can even heat your swimming pool if you have a home with a pool!” Todd says; “All of those uses can be supplied by the same tank at your home.”
Todd maintains that heating with propane, either as the principal source or backup to an electric heat pump, just feels warmer in cold temperatures; in fact, the temperature of the air from a heat pump is around 90°, while the air from a propane furnace is around 120°. “You’re also going to have lower operating costs with propane than you do with electricity, so, I think it provides a better lifestyle, better quality of life.... The technology has come a long way.”
What sets Holtzman apart is that it is a full-service operation. “In today's world where it's getting harder and harder to find good service and people are getting comfortable with mediocrity, we're really trying to stand above that. Our highly trained comfort advisors meet with customers in their homes and customize a solution based on their family’s needs.” Because their employees are trusted to work inside people's homes, “We do it right. I don’t subscribe to all of the excuses about why we can't get things done, so our customers can depend on us.” In part, that’s because the company was built from scratch and, while its size likens it to a regional utility company, “we are a utility where the customer has lots of choices.”
He explains, “If you're upset with the power company, you stay upset. If you're upset with your propane provider, you have other options, so we have to take good care of people. Pricing has to be very competitive and the service has to be stellar.”
Purcellville will be the northernmost Fireplace Store in a string of seven that run as far south as Holly Ridge, North Carolina. The well-appointed store can be used as a design studio where homeowners can sit with a highly trained consultant to discuss what kinds of fireplaces they envision having for their homes, right down to the look of the logs in the hearth. The company can work either with customers’ architects and builders from the blueprints on up, or with customers directly on anything from new construction to retrofitting existing homes that have wood-burning fireplaces. They even handle venting if you don’t have a chimney.
He explains, “You could take an existing masonry fireplace and put a set of gas logs in it. You could take where a wood stove had been and put a cast iron, gas-burning stove that would look the same. You could also go into a room with no fireplace and install a fireplace along a wall or corner and put a mantel around it, and you could either have it unvented or you can vent to the exterior and cut a hole on the sidewall: the options are endless. If someone wants an additional heating source for a cold spot in the home or they would like the appearance of a gas fireplace, or they’d just like to stop cutting wood and simply push the button on the remote to make the fireplace turn off and on – we offer all of those solutions. Can you convert from electric? Yes, you can make the decision during new construction or at any point when you decide that you'd like to add a gas-burning appliance or furnace to your home. It's something that we do and offer a turnkey service from start to finish.”
Todd adds, “We’ll run your gas lines. We'll install your water heater. We have an HVAC division, and of course, we can install your fireplaces. Being able to do all those things is what sets us apart. Because working inside the customer's home can be challenging, other suppliers are moving away from that.” They’re tempted to say, “Let a plumber do that, or let Lowe's decide what kind of appliance you get. We're trying to be a full-service company which is why we think having a local presence in Purcellville is meaningful; it's an extra opportunity for our customers to interact and see us face to face!”
The fireplace store has 18 functioning appliances as well as catalogs to help customers compare installations. The store also has a propane cylinder refill station and will fill people's cylinders for their grills or their RV. “That's just one more reason for the customer to come in and visit us at that location.”
He hopes area builders will take advantage of the design center as well. The store at 1201 Wolf Rock Dr. in Purcellville will celebrate with a grand opening on April 15th, complete with a ribbon cutting with the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce. You can learn more at https://bit.ly/PurcellvilleFireplace or call (540) 751-9292 for information.
“We subscribe to the principle that when you make your living in the community you need to be a good member of the community and you need to give back to the community.” Todd Holtzman