Ralph & Jane Bruinsma, owners of Lo-Cost Propane, have been in the Retail Energy business since 1959Ralph J Bruinsma's Personal Fuel and Trucking Career
Ralph was the fifth of eight children. The family coming from the Netherlands moved several times, ending up on a farm north-east of Rocky Mountain House. Ralph completed grade 8 in June of 1955. After getting to school for only 23 days by mid-November that fall, and finding algebra frustrating, he informed his teacher that he was quitting school. His teacher told him, "It's a cruel world out there…Without schooling you'll wind up pumping gas at Carter's Garage." "Well cruel world here I come," Ralph answered.
So, he joined his older brother Herman at Pete LeCerf Lumber Company 50 miles west of Rocky Mountain House. Spring was seeding time so Herman worked on the family farm and Ralph worked on Kees Nienhuis's farm in Lacombe until the fall.
Then, Ralph and his two brothers had an opportunity to work at the Gunnar Mines in Uranium City, SK. Towards the end of October 1956 they flew up and started work. Ralph ended up developing his skills both as a tradesman learning the machinist trade as well as becoming an entrepreneur. They saved their money and in the spring of 1957 went home for a visit and in the fall came home again to help take the crop off the family farm and provided funds to enable the family to purchase a farm close to Lacombe. Both Herman and Ralph continued to work at Gunnar during 1958. During one of his visits he met Jane Ellen from Lacombe, his partner for the past 50+ years and said good-bye to Gunnar Mines.
An enterprising young man, Ralph Bruinsma acquired his first business at only 19 years of age. Too young to be bonded, Ralph's father had to sign the papers to help him become an agent for BA Bulk Oil Plant in Ponoka in 1959. The business began as K.S. Bruinsma and Sons but a year later, when Ralph was old enough to be bonded, became Ralph J. Bruinsma and Co. Bulk Oil Sales.
Around the same time Ralph's younger brother Andrew acquired the BA plant in Lacombe and the two combined resources to buy a tractor-trailer unit to haul oil products from Edmonton. A few years later Ralph sold the Ponoka operation and joined Andrew as part of independent fuel distributers Bruinsma Brothers Bulk Oil Sales.
When opportunity arose to sell the Lacombe operation, the brothers moved to Lethbridge and in late 1967 opened a gasoline business which grew to seven outlets and two tractor-trailer units hauling gasoline from Calgary into Southern Alberta. The brothers sold that business to Turbo Resources in 1972, after which Ralph moved his family to Eckville and spent three years under contract to Turbo, helping reorganize Freeway Transport.
The family then spent a year living in Hawaii and the Netherlands before Ralph's roots called him home. He sold the Eckville farm and returned to the retail gasoline business in Lethbridge in 1977, starting with one outlet and a car wash business. Ralph soon expanded operations to several gasoline outlets and 33 self-serve wash bays across southern and central Alberta. This became Triangle Gas and Wash Ltd. in Lethbridge and Bruinsma Bros. Holdings Ltd. in Red Deer.
In 1986, Ralph was able to again expand his holdings by adding a retail propane side to the gas and car wash operations. As business grew, Ralph purchased trucks so propane could be distributed to customers. Soon Lo-Cost Propane and Lo-Cost Transport were growing so rapidly that all but one of the gas stations were sold off to help provide for the continually increasing need for transport trucks.
To-day, Lo-Cost operates more than forty delivery trucks, including tractor-trailer units, tri-axle units, tandem units, single axle units and twelve crane trucks. While the head office remains in Lethbridge, satellite bulk storage facilities are located in Cranbrook, Red Deer, Medicine Hat, Leader, Moose Jaw and Humboldt. The company's overall storage capacity tops 900,000 litres from which approximately 7,000 tanks are filled with propane by the in-house transport company.
After 55 years, Ralph is still involved as president of the Triangle Group of Companies. That group sells gasoline, diesel, propane, operates a car wash and transports propane to customers in Southeastern BC, central and southern Alberta and all of southern Saskatchewan.
Ralph and his team insist that customer service comes first, and with decades of experience under their belts, the folks at Lo-Cost Propane and Triangle Gas know something about treating their customers right. Call 1-800-446-1047 for fast efficient service and talk to the nicest people in the world.
Lo-Cost Propane supports many charities and non-profits including: