LEBANON, PA. — The story of Vincent R. Boltz Inc. is one that spans three generations and more than 90 years. Value and dependability are synonymous with the V.R. Boltz brand throughout Lebanon, Pennsylvania, and surrounding areas, where they offer everything from fuel delivery to plumbing and mechanical service.
In the most recent chapter of the book, the company went through a smooth acquisition that left all parties — including customers and employees — feeling appreciated.
Much credit is due to Bob Boltz, who owned the company from 1980 until 2015. His foresight throughout ownership and during the acquisition left all employees and customers in a good position.
“Bob taught us that our customer base is our most important asset,” said Gary White, who has been with the company for 22 years, and now serves as the firm’s general manager. “You can spend all the money in the world on advertising, but maintaining customer satisfaction is the best way to achieve positive, word-of-mouth recognition.”
When it came time to retire, it was important to Boltz that he sell the company to a buyer who would maintain that culture, both within the company and among hard-earned customers.
“Before we were purchased by Rhoads Energy, Bob made sure each employee would keep their job,” said White. “There have been a few small growing pains, sure, but every aspect of the acquisition has been positive, for us and for customers.”
Because Rhoads Energy owns several HVAC and energy businesses regionally, the transition has added to the Boltz service offering. Boltz is now able to deliver propane, and even sell natural gas. That was a big advantage, considering that 50 percent of their service customers use gas.
Built on trust
“Rhoads gave us the tools to expand our service offering,” said White. “Customers don’t know that anything has changed, aside from a few new words on their invoice.” And because Boltz is a well-oiled machine, Rhoads hasn’t asked them to change any of their day-to-day operations.
Inevitably, though, clients will hear about the acquisition, and some may wonder why the family-owned company they’ve trusted for decades isn’t family-owned anymore. But White says that’s of little concern. He’s confident that the good faith Boltz has earned over the years will carry them through the transition period.
“A very real sense of trust is woven into the fabric of this company,” said White. “And because our employees remain, and we keep providing the same premium fuel and products, with service and installation work that proves our commitment to quality, the customers will stay, too.”
Special attention is given to their bio-blend heating oil, just like it is to the products they install. Boltz has stuck with brands they’ve come to trust for years, sometimes for generations. Bradford White is the water heater of choice. Fujitsu ductless systems are often used to provide AC in old farmhouses. Buderus boilers are an efficient hydronic choice for oil customers, and Taco has been the brand of choice for circulators since the 1940s.
“We’ve trusted the Taco 007 for decades,” said White. “The pump curve fits almost every hydronic system we service.” Because most of the homes in their territory are zoned with circulators, they’ve haven’t started using ECM pumps until recently.
Taco’s new 007e is the only fixed-curve, ECM (electronically commutated motor) circulator on the market, and was designed as a drop-in replacement for the standard 007. While it features the same pump curve as the 007, the new circulator uses less energy and offers two other advantages; BIO Barrier and Sure Start.
“BIO Barrier is a technology that prevents the strong magnets in the ECM motor from collecting the ferrous sludge inside an old hydronic system from building up within the circulator,” explained White. “That’s a major concern in our area, considering that a lot of our hydronic systems are in old homes with cast iron radiators and sectional boilers.”
Sure Start self-purges air from the circulator and frees a locked rotor. These functions are indicated by an LED light on the face of the pump; white when in Sure Start mode, gold for standard operation.
“Staying ahead of the technology curve, whether with pumps, boilers or geothermal heat pumps, is a way that we’re able to offer more than our competitor,” said White.
Comes at a good time
The ability to offer more products and services is timely. The past year or two have been lean for oil dealers, and technicians and delivery drivers at Boltz aren’t an exception.
A mild winter, paired with low oil prices has also cut into the number of retrofits. But White thinks the election year isn’t helping, either.
“We keep hearing that the economy is good, but folks around here aren’t so sure,” he said. “Instead of replacing old equipment, they seem to be waiting until after the election. That’s what I make of it, anyway.”
In an area ripe with delivery-only companies, V.R. Boltz, now under new ownership, continues with their business model of out-servicing competitors who carry much lower overhead. A company that sells good fuel, good products, and keeps outstanding employees who’ve built a reputation of service excellence made a strong acquisition for Rhoads Energy.
“Bob Boltz always said that we’re an HVAC company first, and that we happen to do premium fuel delivery,” said White. “I think I speak for everyone here when I say that I’m glad it will remain that way under new ownership.”