Industry-Specific Locks Provide Many Benefits

(December 2, 2019) — Five years ago, Frank Minnella was talking with a neighbor who was in the propane business. He asked what propane marketers do when someone doesn’t pay, and was told that the operator usually cuts them off. Minnella wondered if they locked off the tank. As CEO of Lock America (Corona, Calif.), he saw an opportunity. He knew his company could apply its expertise to provide security and other benefits for the propane industry.
Lock America  specializes in lpg industry-specific locks for propane cylinder cages have many benefits reports BPN nov 2019
Today, Lock America offers two high-security locks for propane tanks. While designed specifically for this industry, the locks benefit from the company’s 30-plus years of experience developing security solutions for the vending, gaming, and self-storage industries.

“The development of these locks was customer-driven,” Rich Morahan, marketing consultant to Lock America, tells BPN. “Frank saw a need for protection and revenue enhancement. Based on his knowledge of the self-storage industry, he knew propane marketers needed a way to lock their tanks.”

One of the products offered by Lock America is the Fill Valve Lock, which prevents unauthorized fills of tanks owned by the propane marketer. The Fill Valve Lock is a screw-on fitting with a slip ring on the top. When installed, the cap just spins when turned, preventing access to the tank without a key. The authorized delivery driver just puts his key in the slot, turns it, lifts off the cap, and pumps in propane.

“This is designed to lock out delinquent customers and slow-pay customers,” Morahan explains. “If a customer owes you money, and your tank is not locked, he can call around to get propane from someone else who will give him 90 days to pay. The solution, like in self-storage, is to lock them out. Don’t let them shop around and put someone else’s propane in your tank.”

When beginning to lock their tanks, he adds, propane marketers typically start with delinquent and slow-pay customers and then expand to all customers.

“Another benefit is that the lock prevents tampering,” Morahan says. “A cheap device allows a customer to tamper with your tank. We know of at least two cases in which natural gas and propane marketers have been subject to lawsuits because a customer tampered with their tank.”

The other propane industry-specific product offered by Lock America is the POLock, which prevents unauthorized connections. The POLock works similarly to the Fill Valve Lock, but secures the output valve.

“If a customer owes money, again, you own the tank so you can lock them out,” Morahan says. “They can’t take this cap off without using a key.”

Both the Fill Valve Lock and the POLock are designed specifically for the propane industry and for these purposes. Both feature brass and chrome-plated brass components and are pick- and drill-resistant.

In addition, each Lock America customer gets a unique key code. They can have as many locks with that key code as they’d like, and all their locks will open with one key. The same key code can also be used for locks on the company’s gate and office. With this registered key code, the customer is the only person authorized to order a replacement key.

“This company started in the vending industry,” Morahan notes. “A company would have, say, 20 machines in east Massachusetts and 20 machines in south Massachusetts. Lock America would make one key that would be the same for all the locks.”

“Lock America has over three decades in the security lock business,” he concludes. “Building on the same principles as the vending, gaming, and self-storage industries, but specifically designed for the propane industry, these locks provide safety, security, liability protection, and revenue enhancement.” — Steve Relyea