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March 19, 2014

Pioneering propane method premieres in Chickasha

CHICKASHA —

Chickasha residents will now be able to grill any time with the development of a new propane vending machine.

Jim Clark, with five partners, started Anytime Propane and developed Oklahoma's first 24/7 propane kiosk that allows people to swipe their card, place their empty 20-pound propane tank in the return door, and pick up a new one from the pick up door.

The first kiosk location is in front of the Ace Hardware at 1617 S. 4th Street in Chickasha. This location is beta testing for 30 days. Clark said picking up a new propane bottle from the machine costs about $20.

Any Time Propane's new kiosk system eliminates the need for a specially-trained employee to retrieve propane cylinders from traditional cages, according to a press release.

"You walk up to [the kiosk] swipe your card and within 30 seconds, you're walking away with a full bottle of propane," Clark said. "It saves going to another place for 30 minutes to fill and pay for propane."

He said this vending system has been in the development process for two years and cost about $600,000.

Now that the first one is up and running, Anytime Propane Co-owner Paul Laney said they expect to have 10 kiosks up and running pretty quickly. 

Laney said the kiosks don't require maintenance, but he expects to hire 25-30 people as they expand to ensure the kiosks are refilled.

He said he expects to open 10 kiosks in central Oklahoma quickly. 

"We're all excited," Laney said. "People who exchange their grill bottles say it's a winner."

Laney said their machine is also the only propane cage he knows of that is handicapped accessible, because a handicapped button is available that opens a lower door for the handicapped to take their propane from.

Laney said he hopes to have a touch screen for selection and a separate kiosk for 30-pound bottles to accommodate RVs.

Clark said Any Time Propane will demonstrate their machine at the National Propane Gas Association Convention and International Expo in April.

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