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Propane Power



Renze Display — Omaha, Neb.

Renze Display has its hands in the history of Omaha, Nebraska, to a time when founder Gus Renze repaired and built floats for the city’s first Aksarben parade in 1895. The business changed hands to the Buchanan family in 1935 and has continued through three generations to Doug Buchanan, current owner and president. Renze has kept its foundations in the Midwestern city but the displays, graphics, interior branding, and marketing Renze teams create are used by corporations across the United States. Many of its largest clients still have one foot in Omaha, but whether they’re Fortune 500 or local mom and pop stores, Renze prides itself on providing extraordinary services to every one of its clients.


Renze Display, known for creating custom displays and very large graphics, needs forklifts that can haul heavy and unwieldy boxes, pallets and materials without being slowed by refueling or concerned about tipping. With propane, machines can be refilled anywhere from warehouse to woodshop and have the power to lift up to 5,000 pounds while maneuvering up steep ramps.


  • Forklifts get work done quickly in a fast-moving business.
  • Propane forklifts are so reliable that Renze has stayed with them since switching from electric forklifts more than eight years ago.
  • Propane retailer is so good that refueling is out of sight, out of mind for Renze employees and management.

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Renze employees work with up to 100 clients on a daily basis, from taking orders to ship lightweight portable exhibits, to fabricating, crating, and shipping full kitchens to clients such as ConAgra Foods. As much as possible is done on-site from their offices and warehouse in northeast Omaha, where they moved in 2008 to consolidate their facilities.

“We like to keep things in house because we’re working on such quick deadlines,” said Lindsey Buchanan, senior account executive.

Shipping orders for portable displays can come two months in advance, or two weeks, or two days, so the ability to move displays at the drop of a hat is vital.

“A company’s brand is always on the line,” Doug Buchanan said.

To meet quality demands and deadlines, they needed equipment that could reliably move heavy materials between their connected warehouses, production, and woodshop.


Renze purchased an electric forklift in 2001, and a second in 2004. But the machines couldn’t meet the demands of the company. Bryan Meusch, senior exhibit manager at Renze for 20 years, said they burned up the engine in one of the electric forklifts trying to get it up a ramp. Forklifts would run out of battery charge in the middle of a job, leaving operators with the hassle of getting the vehicle back to the charging station.

“Electric forklifts were not a good fit for us,” Meusch said.

Now, limited downtime with the company’s three propane-powered forklifts contributes to their capability for fast turnaround. Refueling doesn’t take a machine out of action for hours of recharging such as with electric forklifts, which caused the company trouble when forklifts were used late into the night and weren’t charged up by morning.

“There’s a lot more power, a lot more lift capacity to where we don’t have to worry about tipping over a forklift.”

Bryan Meusch

Senior Exhibit Manager

Renze Display

Meusch said he can tell when the tank is getting low or about to run out, so he’ll start driving back toward the propane cage. If he doesn’t make it, it isn’t a problem. Empty, the tanks are around 15 pounds. Full tanks are closer to 40 pounds, light enough that employees can take the fuel right to the forklift with the use of small carts.

They have nine tanks in total, three on the machines and the other six in a cage. Once they start running low, Meusch said they call their propane retailer and the empty tanks are swapped out within a day. The convenience of the fuel provides peace of mind.


“I don’t think about it like I don’t think about breathing,” Lindsey Buchanan said, and can focus her energy on her clients — seeing projects through from sale to shipping.


Along with providing high-quality products for clients, Renze wants a high-quality of life for all 42 employees. Because the forklifts primarily operate indoors and doors to all parts of the company are constantly opened and closed, diesel forklifts and their accompanying fumes were never an option for a clean work environment.

Propane also fits with Renze’s goals to be environmentally responsible. They use Eco-System sustainable exhibits and recycle spare or unused materials. Propane tanks function on a closed-loop fuel system, so there are no extra demands from the Environmental Protection Agency for contamination or clean-up.

For the four employees, including Meusch, who operate forklifts, the machines provide safety to their daily work.

“There’s a lot more power, a lot more lift capacity to where we don’t have to worry about tipping over a forklift,” he said.

When setting up displays to check each piece before shipping, they use the forklifts to hold heavier pieces, such as canopies and trusses, in place that would be dangerous or too heavy for a ladder.

Propane forklifts stand in line with Renze’s state-of-the-art printing and fabricating equipment in their drive to provide consistency and quality on every project from the drawing board to the shipping docks.

“It just works well for our size of operation,” Doug Buchanan said. “All of the propane we use is vital to the type of work that we do.”

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