In the Hudson River View
Updated: Jul 11, 2018
Crown Energy goes the extra mile for their customers and their community.
Article by Joe Doran -
It’s bound to happen sooner or later--that first real cold snap in the Valley, signaling Winter is at the door. It might be with a blast of sleet, or a dusting of snow. But one thing it shouldn’t be without, is a reliable source of heat. That’s where Crown Energy Corp (formerly Crown LP Gas) has the Hudson region covered. They are a leading provider of energy services, including many based on Liquid Propane.
With a fleet of 11 delivery trucks, 8 service trucks, and thousands of customers, the Pleasant Valley family owned and operated business puts a priority on being reliable, even in the toughest weather conditions. Serving Southern Columbia, Dutchess County and Northern Putnam County, Crown LP Gas trucks are on the road around the clock, providing residential and commercial service on call, 24/7. And because well-being and safety of their customers is always top priority, the company has a 24-Hour Emergency Service line available to answer questions and handle any issues or problems.
Co-owned by Ed Hutchinson and his son Erik, the secret of the company has always been working hard to provide great service, says Erik’s wife Michelle. “We’re a three generation family business that takes great pride in providing exceptional service to this community because it’s our home. Ed raised his family and has lived in Pine Plains for over 40 years. Erik and I currently reside in Red Hook with our two young children Ella and Colton.”
Though known as a leader in propane, they have also diversified as an energy company. In 2013, they began rebranding as Crown Energy Corp, opening a location in Millerton, NY that in addition to propane, offers heating oil, diesel fuel, gasoline, and kerosine. Heating system service and installations are also available.
Many people are familiar with liquid propane from the small tanks that power sizzling summer barbecues. But propane can do much more. Everything from heating systems including hot water heaters, to appliances like stoves, and even LP ready refrigerators, washers and dryers, can run on this efficient, and environmentally friendly fuel. And it can even be safely stored in tanks (often installed underground) large enough to provide reliable heat and energy for extended periods, in cases of power outages and other emergency situations.
“Most of propane usage years ago was residential cooking gas,” notes Michelle. “But as our area grew and our customer base started looking for alternate fuel for heat, hot water and space heat, so did the demand to fulfill that need. We now have many of our customers who use propane to run their entire homes and businesses. Consumer propane sales are projected to grow by about 9% between 2014 and 2025.”
The efficiency of propane compared to electricity or other fuels is one reason driving greater use, says Michelle. The other one, is that efficiency and other factors make propane a legitimate green energy solution.
“Propane is an environmentally friendly fuel. With cooking ranges, propane gives more precise control over temperature and can be cheaper than electric. As far as hot water heaters, temperature adjustment is more precise. And a tankless hot water heater offers ‘heat on demand’, eliminating the need to keep water heated. That also saves money.”
According to the US Dept of Energy, propane heat costs about half as much as electric. Crown Energy Corp sells and services furnaces which have a similar 15 to 20 year life-span to oil furnaces, and have venting options that eliminate the need for chimneys.
But don’t block that chimney just yet. Propane options can get cozy, when that winter night begs for a warm fire. Crown Energy Corp offers attractive and cost effective options for people who want the ambience a fireplace or space heating source--only with better efficiency and safety. “Fireplaces are a nice option as an insert in existing wood burning fireplaces, or a freestanding unit,” Michelle says. “And all of the heat stays in. With wood, you have the damper open and all the heat goes out. Most units offer a remote control which easily turns on and turns off. That eliminates the worry of leftover embers still burning.”
No matter how large or small the commercial or residential need, Crown Energy Corp can handle the job. They’ve been in business since 1976, when Ed’s father, company founder Edward Hutchinson, bought a small propane cylinder exchange company in Hopewell Junction, NY. Hutchinson realized that though liquid propane was not nearly as utilized as oil for heating homes, it had important advantages. It was a domestically produced and plentiful resource, and was cleaner and more efficient than electricity and oil. It was also non-toxic, and not harmful to soil or water.
Edward Hutchinson worked hard in those early days to sell people on the benefits of switching to LP. He explained that the fuel was very safe, stored in moderately pressurized tanks that kept the natural gas in a liquid--and thereby much more compact--form.
Over the years, as his son Ed and later grandson Erik entered the business, Crown initiated things like bulk deliveries, and automated metered deliveries. As new appliances were built specifically to take advantage of LP’s efficiency advantages when compared with electricity, the company stayed on the leading edge of providing service and parts.
And service is still the key to running a great business, according to Michelle. “Customers can reach a live person, if needed, 24/7/365. During business hours your call will be answered directly by customer service, and they can take care of any questions or concerns the customer may have.”
Making sure all drivers and service technicians are professionally trained is a must. Every Crown Energy Corp propane worker is trained to meet the standards for CETP (Certified Employee Training Program) set forth by the National Propane Gas Association. The certification ensures that they gain the necessary skills and knowledge to carry out their jobs safely and effectively.
“In addition, we offer training sessions that cover all types of issues that may come up as the industry grows and changes. Our main focus has been and will be the safety of our customers, employees and our community. We take the time to explain propane to our customers and to ensure that their installation is safe and sound.”
With their attention to professional training and safety, Crown has earned the industry’s Energy Excellence in Risk Management Award multiple times.
Peace of mind for customers also involves working with them to fit their budgets and time schedules, to make the service that Crown Energy Corp provides as seamless and efficient as possible. “We have automatic delivery, which takes the guesswork out of when you may need your next delivery; we offer budget payment plans where you can spread the cost of your deliveries out over a period of time.”
But even all that doesn’t fully capture how Crown Energy Corp has the communities they serve covered. Ed and Erik and the Hutchinson family have always strived to support numerous worthy community causes and programs, including the Tunnel To Towers Foundation (https://tunnel2towers.org), which helps extraordinary individuals who have sacrificed to protect others.
“Last summer we had the honor and privilege to be a part of the home build for Stephen K. Valyou (a disabled Iraqi war veteran), donating all of our labor and materials for home heating system and tanks.”
Another cause very close to their heart is Colton's XXXtraordinarY Cause, a non-profit created by Erik and Michelle to support children in the community who have been diagnosed with rare diseases and syndromes, in honor of their son, who has 48XXXY. A Rare Affair, a fundraising event associated with the non-profit, was host in 2017 in Pine Plains (Globe Hill at Ronnybrook Farm), and attracted over 350 attendees. Almost 100 local businesses got involved, and over $40,000 was raised.
That kind of involvement, whether it’s literally going the extra mile to get fuel to customers in emergencies, or following the highest standards of safety and customer service, or investing in worthwhile community causes, is at the heart of Crown Energy Corp. It’s warmth of the human touch that powers a great local company.