Written on: April 4, 2023
IPS Equipment, Inc., originally known as Industrial Propane Service, Inc., based in Byron, Michigan with product guide here, was founded in 1968 by Charles and Helen Vandemark. “Charlie” drove transports and worked on building plants in the 1960s for Pyrofax Co. In 1968, Charlie and Helen decided to give it a try on their own. Along with their son, Robert Vandemark, they started Industrial Propane Service, Inc.
In the beginning, the focus was on bulk storage plants for retail companies and stand-by systems for factories. With the gas shortages of the 1970s, the business boomed, especially in the propane stand-by systems. Charlie became known as “Propane Charlie” in the industry. He had a gift to “crunch” the numbers and design back-up systems for natural gas.
Eventually, Industrial Propane Service, Inc. began servicing and building bobtails. In 1983, the company became a wholesale distributor for RegO Products, Blackmer Pumps and LC Meters. Their product lines continued to grow to include almost everything needed for propane retailers.
Robert and Brenda Vandemark’s son, Jeff, joined Industrial Propane Service, Inc. in the spring of 1987. He began working with Robert and Charlie on installing bulk plants. In 1988, Charlie and Helen retired, and Robert and Brenda took over the company. In 1993, Robert and Brenda’s other son, Rob, joined the company and began working with the wholesale department. In 1996, the company was divided into Industrial Propane Service, Inc. (IPS) and IPS Equipment (IPSE). IPS would handle plant construction and service plus all the bobtail and transport work. IPSE would strictly manage wholesale equipment sales. The companies would remain at the same location and be operated by the same management team.
Robert and Brenda’s daughter, Kim Godlewski, joined IPSE in 2003. Kim had previous experience in wholesale distribution. Rob Vandemark transferred to bobtail sales and service, while Jeff continued to work with Robert on plant construction and service.
In 2008, Robert and Brenda retired, and Jeff, Kim and Rob (pictured) took over IPS and IPSE.
REBRANDING TO “IPS – A FAMILY OF SOLUTIONS FOR THE PROPANE INDUSTRY”
In 2018, the company began rebranding the company to IPS – A family of solutions for the propane industry. Although the companies are still separate operating entities, most people just refer to them as IPS so company leaders decided it would be best to brand it all that way. In addition, since it is a family-owned company, they thought the ‘family of solutions” was a fitting tagline.
In 2012, IPS started really getting into building Autogas dispensing systems partnering with the Gasboy and Gilbarco line of dispensers and was able to upfit them for LP Gas. IPS has since received NTEP and UL approvals for its units and continues to build and develop this product line. It has sold several of its systems across the country.
KEY OFFERINGS TO RETAIL PROPANE MARKETERS
IPS Equipment, Inc. is a wholesale distributor of propane equipment, including RegO regulators, Blackmer pumps, LC meters, Neptune meters, Worthington cylinders, Quality Steel tanks, Hannay hose reels, Mopeka tank monitors, Empire heating products, and Hot Dawg and LB White heaters. The company has distribution centers in Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
Industrial Propane Service, Inc. continues to grow in the bulk plant construction and service industry. The company also build propane bobtails, including the IPS exclusive design, the Clear Vision Enclosure (CVE). It also designs and builds the propane Autogas dispensing systems.
Both companies together offer a full line of equipment and service to the propane industry – The company offers everything but propane.
The customer base is mostly US, although they have done some international projects. They have sales representatives calling on customers in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Kentucky.
Both companies are always trying to come up with unique and new products for the propane industry. Some come to them through manufacturers wanting them to market their products, but some they design themselves. Some of their IPS branded products are the CVE bobtail, and their cylinder evacuation system. Sometimes new products take a few years to really get going, but once they can prove the benefits and ROI, customers see what a win they are.
The company currently has 32 employees. Most are Michigan based, but some live in Ohio and Wisconsin.