A new Superior propane service company moved in just down the road from the longtime propane company company Energy Partners. The new business is Mineral Energy Co., and is owned by Energy Partners’ previous manager, Kirby Smith.
Smith was born and raised in the area and worked for Energy Partners for 35 years. It was originally Hanson’s Oil and was bought by Cenex in 1991, which is a part of Energy Partners. Smith felt it was time to open his own shop, which he did on Aug. 1 with two former Energy Partner employees, Business Manager Beth Price and Propane Specialist Scott Dodd.
“We wanted more control over our community and wanted to keep things local,” said Smith. “Energy Partners was getting further away from that. We have always given good service and the community needs it.”
He said a lot of propane outfits only deliver propane and don’t deal with piping, or appliances.
“We need someone out here because to have someone from Missoula come out gets expensive. We are a full service propane provider,” he said.
So far, business has been good and they’ve already hired another employee. The company is planning to host a grand opening on Oct. 31. In the meantime, they are still getting moved into their new building located at 113 River St. in Superior.
THE BUILDING itself has an interesting history. It was purchased by Pearl Boyer in 1923 from Bill Castles. Bill’s son, Tom, owns Castles Grocery Store in Superior. She opened Pearl’s Variety store and sold many items, including ice cream, pop and candy. Even Smith remembers walking across the street from school and buying “penny candy” from Pearl.
“We are here to serve our friends in the community,” said Price, who has worked with Smith over the past few years. “We are just getting moved in and still have displays to put out and pictures to hang on the walls.”
Mineral Energy Co. is a full service company and offers installation, repair work for appliances like furnaces, stoves, and hot water heaters. The process to switch over to them is fairly easy, said Dodd, “if you have a rented tank we just switch it out and pump the fuel across from one tank to the other.”
They serve Mineral County from Petty Creek to Lookout Pass as well as out to Quinn’s Hot Springs in Sanders County.
Smith’s old employer, Energy Partners, also supplies propane to homes, farms and businesses in Mineral County as well as throughout Western Montana, and are co-owned by Missoula Electric Co-op and Mountain West Co-op (Cenex Harvest States). They deliver propane, install new tanks and install and services gas appliances.