Reinvigorating Success: New Hampshire mainstay in the oil and gas business, Palmer Gas Ermer Oil, share their rebranding plans for continued success
Longevity in the oil and gas industry is a key indicator of success, and Palmer Gas Ermer Oil’s 83 years in business only prove this point. The oil company, founded in 1932 by current owner Bill Ermer’s father, Charles A. Ermer, sold oil and kerosene. A general merchandise store, founded by William Palmer, expanded into propane in 1949. Bill began his work at the general store and later combined the fuel oil and propane business, which has since grown his business into a 100-employee operation with a fleet of 60 vehicles.
Bill Ermer has worn many hats as president of Palmer Gas Ermer Oil. The company was into coal until the early 1980s, and is currently offering propane, fuel oil and several delivery services for their clients. And although the company is located in New Hampshire—one of the harshest climates during the U.S.’s winter—it has one of the best networks of fuel storage in the region.
“Bill has really had a focus on the future throughout his time developing this company,” Joe Trefethen, general manager, shared. “He’s created a fuel storage infrastructure that has really allowed our company to deliver for our customers. Here in New Hampshire, our competitors may have one or two days’ worth of fuel on hand to deliver to their customers at any given time. When we get snowstorms here in the far north, supply can sometimes be interrupted. Bill has really made key investments in fuel storage facilities so that our customers know we have the products they need to keep their homes warm and keep things going even in a challenging winter.”
With a strong foundation and rebranding effort underway, Palmer Gas Ermer Oil is paving the way for a successful future in the industry.
Palmer Gas Ermer Oil is in a highly competitive region in the industry, so standing out to future clients and employees is a must to get the best business. Trefethen shared that the company has some great differentiators from other businesses in the area like a highly experienced staff, great infrastructure, and the ability to deliver in any winter conditions. Unfortunately, not all of their customers know about these stand-out company traits.
“There are a number of companies that do what we do in our area of the state,” said Trefethen. “We’ve got some great services, but our customers don’t really know about all of them. In our rebranding efforts, we really want to communicate to our potential audience how we are different and what we can do for them that our competitors cannot.”
Ermer commented that while the company focused heavily on the propane gas side, the oil side of the business didn’t get the marketing efforts it deserves.
“We’re rebranding using the two fuels focused together to make sure our customers have a better understanding of what we offer,” he said.
Amanda Bacon, the marketing director behind the rebranding push, shared that getting the in-house team on the same page was also a goal of the rebrand.
“Because we now have a company of around 100 employees, it’s really about getting everyone on the same page so that we’re all speaking to the customer with the same company core values, and moving forward in that direction as well,” she said.
Social Media: #Snowmaggedon
Social media has been a huge part of Palmer Gas Ermer Oil’s rebranding effort. The company has been using social media platforms—specifically Facebook—since 2010, but has since amped up their efforts. In doing so, the company has tripled their followers in the last six months, exceeding marketers and competitors in the industry.
“A large part of our social media efforts focuses on the customer and community engagement,” said Bacon. “It allows an immediate conversation with the customer. We really enjoy that instant connection.”
The company has linked community outreach events with its social media feeds and rebranding efforts, allowing its employees to give back to the community in which they live while also having fun. For example, after the hard winter New Hampshire experienced, the company put on a #Snowmaggedon Challenge, an event inviting local companies to participate in a snowscape-building activity while also donating money to a local Boys and Girls Club.
It was a spin on the ice bucket challenge: companies had one week to plan and one hour to execute their design. Palmer Gas Ermer Oil did an active volcano/beach theme, much to their employees’ enjoyment.
“Our company takes part in what is known as the FISH! philosophy. It’s based out of Seattle’s famous Pike Place Fish Market where a bunch of guys everyday are throwing around big smelly fish. You wouldn’t think that it’s the most exciting job in the world. But these guys make it a really fun and positive experience not just for themselves, but for their customers.”
Palmer Gas Ermer Oil have a few FISH! events a year, which are designed to allow employees to play, have fun at work, make their customers day, and to choose their own attitude. Employees had a blast. So far, two other businesses have taken part and reaped the same benefits from #Snowmaggedon.
A Push for Technology
The company’s rebranding effort accompanies a move towards mobile computing for its workforce. Each employee in the field is equipped with Dell Windows tablets that vastly improve their capabilities and productivity when out on a job. Features like the customer database, email and invoice generation, and navigation tools have changed the way the company provides services for the better.
Recently the company was the recipient of the Innovation and Technology Award from the Greater Haverhill, MA Chamber of Commerce for the implementation of its mobile computing system. The awards are a once-a-year variety business awards that honor forward-looking businesses. Trefethen mentioned that receiving an honor like this really lets the company know it is on the right path.
What Does the Future Hold?
In order to continue on this path to success, Palmer Gas Ermer Oil will continue its efforts to market gas, which Ermer, Trefethen, and Bacon mentioned was the wave of the future. The company will not only be selling and delivering the commodity, but will also convert its fleets to propane autogas, making the vehicles more efficient and easier to maintain.
As far as the future of the industry, Ermer believes that propane will be a big commodity in the residential construction industry, so the company is going to continue pursuing efforts there. Oil will continue to be a fairly stable arm of the company, with the option of expansion through acquisitions.
“We want to become the number one company in the area, and with our core values and company culture I think we can do so,” said Ermer. “We’re one of the safest companies, so we’re going to continue our marketing efforts to reflect that.”
The key to success in the future, Trefethen pointed out, was becoming the company of choice for consumers as well as employees.
“When you have happy employees, it’s easier to have happy customers,” he concluded.
Palmer Gas/Ermer Oil strives for excellence by exceeding our customer’s expectations. We provide the personal attention you deserve and can only receive from a family owned and operated business.
We specialize in the delivery and service of your propane and fuel oil needs throughout New Hampshire and Northern Massachusetts. We utilize cutting edge technology and provide competitive pricing to ensure continued growth and prosperity. We continue to pursue better ways of serving your energy needs for this generation and for generations to come.
Our employees are provided with the same concern, respect and caring attitude within the company that they are expected to share with every customer. Palmer Gas / Ermer Oil supports has contributed to local businesses and communities with integrity, trust and value since 1932.
There have been many changes over the past 80 years – different trucks and equipment, new buildings, new appliances and services offered, but the one part of the business that has NOT changed is our commitment to customers– you always come first.
Since 1932, the Ermer family’s goal has been to provide their many customers with excellent service at the fairest possible prices.
Today, commitment to quality service and fair price is still our priority, and has contributed to our continued growth of satisfied customers. Giving to the community is also very important to us. We support local Fire and Police Departments, libraries, youth leagues and fraternal organizations from various towns. We are continually working to be a “cut above the rest.” We hope this makes a difference to you and your community.
Why should you choose Palmer Gas/Ermer Oil?
• 24 Hour Emergency Service to our current customers
• Palmer Points Reward Program
• Propane, Fuel Oil, and Kerosene
• Budget Plan for Heating Accounts
• Pre-Buy Programs
• Highly Trained Service Technicians
• Family Owned Since 1932
• Competitive Pricing
• Serving Southern New Hampshire’s Oil and Propane Needs for 75 years.