ADA — Tom Crabtree's family has been peddling the same product since about the time Oklahoma became a state, but that doesn't mean he isn't willing to try something different to keep the family business going.
Ada Coca-Cola started experimenting with alternative fuels about 20 years ago, said Crabtree, the company's president. He is the grandson of founders T.B. and Agnes Blake, who bought the company in 1908.
Crabtree said the company tried propane, a fuel the family was familiar with from its ranch business, but natural gas is the alternative that intrigued him most.
“I knew that was the next step, but there wasn't any way to fuel the trucks,” he said.
An Oklahoma tax credit helped the company build its own compressed natural gas fueling station on site, then it was able to start converting its vehicles to run on CNG.
“It just opened the whole floodgate for us,” he said.
Crabtree said about three-quarters of the vehicles in the company's fleet now run on CNG.
“We've got a hodgepodge of sizes,” he said.
Making the switch
The soft drink distributor, which serves customers in seven southern Oklahoma counties, has large trucks that bring product back from the bottler in Oklahoma City, midsize trucks for deliveries and servicing vending machines, Chevrolet HHRs for its sales people and assorted pickups for family members who work there. Four generations of the family have worked at the company.