In the propane business, it’s all about keeping up with demand. This not only includes supply of product, but efficiently transporting that product to customers, especially during high-demand fall drying season.
For Central Farm Service (CFS) in south central Minnesota – who is projected to sell 15 million gallons of propane in 2018 – CHS is the right partner for propane supply and delivery.
“Every year, we sit down with CHS and plan dryer and home heating season,” says Steve Johnson, vice president of energy at Central Farm Service, who retired in early 2018. “During high-demand season, we might talk with CHS multiple times per day about what our plans are and about what our needs are depending on what crops are doing.”
That constant communication paid off in 2017. Early in the peak demand season, the main pipeline servicing Minnesota was put on allocation, limiting the amount of propane available to CFS at their main terminal. Fred Urch, who became vice president of Energy for CFS when Johnson retired, consulted with CHS propane account manager Dallas Engel, who helped CFS get set up at multiple Iowa terminals serviced by other pipelines so they could source additional propane from CHS. “Fred’s quick decision to take advantage of lifting from Iowa terminals contributed to the success of CFS to maintain propane inventories and service their customers’ needs,” says Engel.
And CHS Transportation handled the hauling, helping the co-op sell more than 4 million gallons of propane in the month of November, more than in the entire fall of 2016. “Without CHS Transportation and CHS Propane we wouldn’t be able to keep up with that demand,” says Urch.
CHS Transportation also calls on third-party carriers during high-demand seasons to make sure customer’s needs are met. “CHS Transportation has the ability to adjust to our needs, especially when we go from a few loads a day to 25 loads in one day during drying season,” says Johnson.
“Our partnership with CHS goes a long way toward meeting our customers’ needs, making sure they are supplied during harvest and can stay warm in winter months,” says Urch.
By partnering with CHS Transportation, CFS can not only reliably deliver propane to its customers, but it can also take advantage of specialty tools, such as the ability to track and place orders through the Transportation Control Room on MyCHS. “It’s easy for us to put orders in and monitor progress online,” says Johnson. “The online tools at MyCHS are second-to-none with regard to ease of use when placing orders and being able to efficiently track what’s going on with our orders.”
CHS Transportation also takes care of other situations, such as driver training and equipment break-downs. “The dedicated drivers know our plants and our situation and I know they’re doing the job safely and efficiently,” says Johnson.
Johnson has worked closely with Tom Hoffmann, district manager for CHS Transportation. “We work to make sure our customers don’t have to worry about their product getting from point A to point B, we’re providing full service logistics solutions, especially during high-demand season,” says Hoffmann. “And it’s during these times when the cooperative system is at its best.”
“By working with CHS Transportation, I order the product and have confidence it’s getting where it needs to go,” says Johnson. “CHS Transportation helps our business be more efficient and takes a lot of worry and concern off my plate.”