More than a half century and three family generations later, , of Tiverton, marked a milestone this weekend. The business celebrated its 60-year anniversary with a party Saturday with customers, friends and neighbors.
Owner and President Phil Viveiros, 60, said the company began on his birthday.
"We want all those people to come who helped us keep in business," he said in an interview Friday. "It's a big thing, especially for a propane business, especially today."
The company started in Viveiros' grandfather's garage in Common Fence Point in Portsmouth, selling bottled gas when fuel was not yet popular. Philip C. Viveiros used his garage to store the propane bottles, and he delivered and exchanged bottles from there.
"It got bigger and bigger," Viveiros said.
The company eventually opened an office in Fall River before purchasing a 30-plus acre piece of property at 477 Crandall Road and moved to Tiverton.
"He built a house he was going to eventually live in, put an office on the first floor and put a storage tank in," Viveiros said about his grandfather.
Viveiros said when his grandfather died, his father Louis took over not knowing much about the business.
"He had to learn his way," Viveiros said. "I was going through high school and college at the time, and I would work for him, making deliveries."
When his father retired in 1985, Viveiros said they only had a couple used delivery trucks and their small, 18,000-gallon tank in the yard, and they grew from there.
"At that time we only had three employees," he said. "Today, we have 18."
A growing, changing industry
Viveiros said his business has experienced several changes.
"As technology goes by, the tanks get bigger," he said. "The use of propane gets larger. The portability of propane can be used for a lot of things when there’s no natural gas. It’s grown quite a bit."
Viveiros noted that a few years back, oil was the cheapest thing you could use, along with coal.
"That's not the case anymore," he said. "Oil is very expensive and environmentally not very friendly, so, propane has gotten to be a very popular fuel to use. Underground tanks are a big thing, too."
Viveiros credited the power small business can still have in Rhode Island, despite the economic climate of recent years.
"I'm 60 years old," he said. "I have no plans to retire. People that work for me are very happy to be here."
He said they have started making deliveries around the state in the last couple of years, especially to Kent and Washington counties.
"We want to grow," he said. "Time, God willing, that we could put a location out there some day."
For more information about the company and its history, visit their website. Saturday's party was catered by , and employees provided the public tours of their office. Local musician Gary Farias performed live music, and Viveiros added that Phil's Propane received proclamations from the offices of Gov. Lincoln Chafee and Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI).