Keeping the home fires burning during BBQ season

Looking to make backyard grilling more convenient, Breslau’s Jason Wiles has launched BBQ Tank Express, which offers home pickup and delivery. [Faisal Ali / The Observer]

Spring certainly seemed to take its own time to reach us. But now that it is finally here, we can expect the backyard chefs amongst us will be donning their aprons and firing up their grills for the season. For a lot of us, that will mean stocking up on our propane – fortunately there’s a local entrepreneur looking to make sure you always have enough gas in the tank.

Jason Wiles is the force behind the BBQ Tank Express, a propane-delivery business in Breslau, also the community he calls home. The novel approach his business takes means that customers can use their barbecues confident they’ll never have to run out of propane again.

“We are a barbecue tank delivery service where we set [customers] up with two different tanks so that they never actually run out, because they always have a spare one there,” he explained.

By having tanks delivered two at a time, customers have a backup in case their first tank runs out. And when it does, it’s a simple matter of calling Wiles who will personally come and pick up the empty tank from outside the house, and replace it with a fully filled-up tank. Wiles even offers to install the propane tank to the barbecue for those interested.

“It kind of resembles back in the day, kind of like milk delivery. How you’d have the milk delivery guy come around. You take the empty bottle of milk, I give them a full bottle of milk,” he says. But instead of milk bottles, it’s now a tank of propane.

“Everything else you can pretty much get delivered to your door now,” noted Wiles, but the big exception to that is propane, which is something he wants to change.

There are three levels to the BBQ Tank Express service depending on how regularly customers make use of the grill. There’s the bronze package, which operates as a ‘pay-as-you-go’ type service, silver, which is closer to a pre-paid subscription, and gold.

“The gold package is more for our high-users, and it’s mostly people that just don’t want to worry about it ever. It’s almost like they want to use the propane as if it’s natural gas where they never run out, they never want to have to worry about it,” said Wiles.

The gold package commits the customer to purchasing four tanks in the year. Per unit, it is the least expensive. The way the service works is customers can set up a schedule with Wiles for deliveries for a total of four tanks over the year. They select the times depending on when they expect they will be running low, and Wiles does the rest.

“They pick the four months, and on those four months I’ll come automatically to their location, switch out their tank with a new one that’s filled, and then they never have to worry about it,” he explained.

Besides the hassle of running out of gas right in the middle of a backyard culinary endeavour, transporting propane tanks to and from the store is an inherently risky act. The tanks are sensitive to heat and poorly ventilated areas, with the industry generally advising people not to leave them in their car for extended periods, or in enclosed spaces like the trunk. Moreover, the tanks need to be kept upright during transport and, of course, away from sparks.

Handled correctly, it’s a safe product to use, but Wiles’ service eliminates that hassle and the risk entirely for consumers.

“Mainly it’s the convenience factors for families, the elderly, and just people that are overall too busy,” said Wiles. “They don’t have time to worry about running to the store or putting their kids in danger by putting the tank in their car. They can enjoy their free time and don’t have to worry about that.”

What’s more, using Wiles’ service ensures customers are always getting freshly painted and safe tanks to use, rather than relying on older ones.

It’s a simple and straightforward solution to the problems and frustrations that Wiles’ himself has personally had to deal with. It was his own experiences with the inconveniences of using propane that led him to create his new business model.

“In the past I’ve had a propane barbecue, and I know the hassle of actually putting it in your vehicle, worrying about whether or not it’s going to run out,” he said. “I switched to natural gas because I hated switching out the tanks myself, and I figured that there is enough people out there that have that same experience, so I was looking to try to solve the problem.”

The result was the BBQ Tank Express. Right now, the delivery service is operating in and around the Waterloo Region, including the townships, Elora, Cambridge and Guelph. But Wiles’ is definitely interested in growing his business outwards to other parts of the province.

“I would say that my expansion plans are that I’m looking to expand to other cities in Ontario and potentially franchise across Canada,” he said ambitiously.

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