Business & Real Estate

Propel Fuels, retailer of renewable fuels, returning its headquarters to Sacramento

Darren Johnson, an operations manager at Propel Fuels, finishes polishing the pumps at a Valero gas station on Broadway in Sacramento that sells Propel’s new biodiesel fuel.
Darren Johnson, an operations manager at Propel Fuels, finishes polishing the pumps at a Valero gas station on Broadway in Sacramento that sells Propel’s new biodiesel fuel. rbyer@sacbee.com

Propel Fuels Inc., which bills itself as California’s largest retailer of low-carbon vehicle fuels, is bringing its home base back to Sacramento.

Propel announced Thursday that it is moving its headquarters from Redwood City to Sacramento.

The move represents a U-turn for the company, which was founded in Seattle in 2004 and moved its headquarters to Sacramento in 2008 before leaving for the Bay Area two years later.

Officials of the company, which offers a line of renewable and diesel fuels, said being in Sacramento puts it near the center of California’s elected officials, energy policymakers and regulators who directly affect its business.

“I believe Sacramento is the place to be if you’re working on California’s low-carbon economy. That’s where the conversation about making carbon goals is occurring, and we want to be part of that conversation,” said Propel’s founder and CEO Rob Elam.

He said Propel has already begun moving into a 4,000-square-foot building at 1815 19th St., which was home to Bows & Arrows, a clothing boutique, cafe and gallery space that closed in January 2014. After Bows & Arrows, the building was open as the Witch Room, a music venue that closed late last year.

“We spent six months or so looking for the right spot,” said Elam. He expects to have all senior management and finance staff moved in over the next four weeks.

Company spokesman Jaime Quick said Propel will employ 15 people in Sacramento by year’s end and plans to expand to about 30 in 2016. All company executives will be located in Sacramento, with field operations staff spread out across the state, he said. Propel employs about 20 companywide.

The company’s 2014 revenue totaled about $60 million.

Elam said Propel is poised for growth, especially given California initiatives promoting renewable fuel sources, reduced motor vehicle tailpipe emissions, the state’s low carbon fuel standard and carbon cap-and-trade system.

Currently, Propel has nearly 45 fueling stations in California and Washington state, most of which are stand-alone pumps at regular gas stations, such as Chevron, Shell or Valero.

Last month, Propel introduced a new diesel fuel manufactured largely from recycled plant and animal oils. It’s sold at 18 Propel fueling sites in Sacramento, the Bay Area and Fresno.

Elam said the company plans to maintain a presence in the Bay Area with its Silicon Valley Workshop, focused on customer experience, retail technologies, data analytics and partner initiatives.

Call The Bee’s Mark Glover, (916) 321-1184.

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