By Ryan S. Murphy
The name of Allen in Allen’s Oil & Propane means a lot to the people that run the business.
“We’re on our 95th year, and we value our name,” Ronald Allen said. He currently runs the company with his wife, Sandra, and his two sons, Douglas and Jason.
Ronald Allen’s grandfather, Harry T. Allen Sr., started the company in 1919, supplying coal from a location in Mt. Holly. Ronald’s father took over the business in 1964.
Even at a very young age, Ronald was immersed in his family’s business, and this immersion eventually lead to him taking over the business with his brother in 1977.
“I’ve always worked here, even since grade school,” he said. “My brother wasn’t always here, but when we bought the company from my dad, he came in, too.”
Ronald’s son, Douglas Allen, who now runs the propane side of the business with his brother Jason, recalled how hard his father has worked over the years.
“When my dad got into it, he brought oil into the business, and then full service cleaning of heaters and air conditioners,” Douglas said. “We started out with just a couple people. My dad used to do the night calls, delivering the oil and driving all day.”
Ronald now laughs thinking of some of the challenges he had to face early in his career.
“The biggest problem we had back then was interest rates,” Ronald said. “We were expanding very fast, the building boom was on, and we were building a lot of oil tanks.”
Ronald worked hard to grow the company and allow it to evolve with the times. In 1991, he made the decision to start providing propane to his customers.
“We didn’t have to buy anybody out to do it. The goal was to get one customer a day, and we ended up getting far more than that,” he said.
But Ronald is also quick to point out that the men in the family have not been the only ones keeping the company alive.
“I’ve been very fortunate that my Aunt Wildred worked here for 30 years, so she deserves a lot of credit,” he said. “At the time there weren’t a lot of people here, and she kept it all together.”
And of course, Ronald’s wife Sandra has always been at his side, even when Allen’s was still a fledgling company struggling to expand.
“People used to call our house at night, and my mom would dispatch the calls to my dad,” Douglas said. “It was just them at the time, and they really ran with the business.”
Like his dad, Douglas had been helping out at the company since he was a kid, even though his father never pushed him towards it.
“My dad always said we could do whatever we wanted to do,” he said. “But since we were young, my brother and I always came here. We worked here over the summer or after school, doing whatever we could to help, painting tanks or washing trucks. We started at the bottom… When we got out of high school, I found myself more here at work and less in the classroom. So after a couple years in community college, I figured out it wasn’t for me. I knew where I wanted to be.”
Douglas got the job of carrying out dispatches for deliveries, taking over for his uncle’s previous job. His brother, Jason, got his associate’s degree and then joined the business as well, at which point both of them finally took on full-time positions.
Allen’s Oil & Propane has expanded significantly over the years. It now services virtually all of South Jersey. But while the Allens certainly want to continue expanding their business as much as possible, they also want to make sure they keep their current customers satisfied.
“We hire good, knowledgeable people. We value honesty and good service. And we keep our trucks clean,” Ronald said. “It’s the people, our dedicated employees that make our company what it is.”
Allen’s Oil & Propane is located at 427 N. Main St. in Vincentown. For more information, call (609) 859-2334. On the Web: allensoilandpropane.com.