From family roots to a propane powerhouse, Paraco continues to meet new demands 

From its early days as a welding and gas supplier in the New York City area to its current position as one of the largest privately held propane companies in the US, Paraco continuously places customers at the forefront of its operation. The business has gained a strong reputation in the Northeast and has evolved its operations to align with industry changes and evolutions, particularly amid rising concerns over sustainability.  

Christina Armentano
Christina Armentano

Created by visionary entrepreneur, Pat Armentano in 1968, the business remains under family ownership, with Pat’s son, Joe, at the helm as CEO, supported by third-generation family member, Christina, who occupies the position of COO.  

As talk turns to the company’s current operations, Christina shares an overview of its history. “We originally started off in the industrial gas business under the name PATSEMS in Westchester County, New York, from a small garage in Mount Vernon NY. We entered the propane market in 1979, and since the purchase of Paraco Gas Corp in Peekskill NY we have grown tremendously within the propane market. We’ve undergone a total of 60 acquisitions throughout our history to expand our capabilities and operational footprint. We are proud to have a stellar reputation for purchasing and transitioning acquisitions. Today, as one of the top propane marketers in the US, we serve more than 120,000 customers across eight different states. 

“We provide over 60 million gallons of propane every year to service a range of different applications for both residential and commercial use. People think propane is just used for fueling your barbecue, but it has so many more uses, from heating hot water for cooking to supporting outdoor living by heating pools and fueling fire pits. In fact, less then 40 percent of our overall business is used for heating, so the uniqueness of our business is that we’re busy all year round.  

“We also provide backup generators at residential properties, municipalities, hospitals and many businesses to ensure we can provide power in times of outages,” she adds. “On the commercial side, we service various business segments including restaurants, resorts, warehouses, laundromats, gas stations, retail stores, and many more. Our business segments are as vast as the products they fuel.    

Innovating service offering 

“In addition, propane is increasingly being used as a bridge fuel with other energy sources. We’re starting to see an evolving landscape of energy alternatives like solar, geothermal, and several other technologies, and propane is used alongside them as a dual application in commercial and residential settings. EV charging stations, for example, can be equipped with backup generators fueled by propane, so as more energy alternatives surface, propane will be increasingly used to ensure reliability.” 

Aside from its core portfolio, Paraco has expanded into two new segments with the launch of its HVAC business and a plumbing division. “We’ve established these divisions to grow our capabilities and meet increasing demands from customers,” Christina expands. “As we started to see an increase in inquiries for HVAC and boiler changes, for example, we decided to set up these divisions to create a one-stop shop for all our customers’ needs. Previously, we typically only completed service work outside of the home, but our plumbing and HVAC divisions take us inside the home. Although we’re still in the early stages with these ventures, as we want to ensure they are adequately set up to experience long-term success, we’re already receiving positive feedback from our customers.” Propane tank instal;ation

Christina is also keen to tell us about the company’s continued focus on operational automation. “Our facility in Waterbury, Connecticut, refurbishes propane cylinders that can be put back into circulation and prevented from entering landfills. We’ve automated this process to ensure maximum efficiency, this year adding a robot to our workforce named PAT, the Paraco Automated Teammate. Named after my grandfather and founder, PAT lifts and moves pallets of propane cylinders from conveyor belts to other areas or machines, eliminating the more labor-intensive tasks from the refurbishment process.”  

Growth trajectory 

Looking forward, Christina considers Paraco’s future as one that will continue to put customers and employees first while staying ahead of the changing landscape. “If you look at our history, it’s clear to see that we’re a company of constant evolution; we originally started out in industrial gas, before transitioning to propane,” she reflects. “We’re now becoming more of a residential services model, where in addition to providing power, we also service offerings to both residential and commercial customers.  

“When it comes to the wider industry, I think the future will see propane increasingly used as a bridge component for alternative energy solutions and for backup generation. New technologies will inevitably arise, particularly in the energy sector, and propane will continue to play a key role going forward.  

“At Paraco specifically, customers and employees are our top priority, but we’ll also remain at the forefront of technology and sustainability to bring new concepts and advancements to our portfolio,” Christina concludes. “Overall, the future will see us continue our current trajectory to grow and expand within our existing geographies as well as in new territories that we don’t currently service.”