About Teeco

Teeco Irvine





TEECO is a privately held wholesale distributor and fabricator of gas equipment established in 1946. The employees here are dedicated to providing the highest possible level of customer service and quality merchandise at competitive prices. 

The Story begins….

The year was 1946. World War II had ended and the pent up demand for goods fueled phenomenal growth in the California economy. Residential, commercial and industrial energy needs were being filled in part by a burgeoning LP-Gas industry. The need for equipment became obvious to a former poultry and egg salesman and District Manager for Standard Stations, Inc., Bennett C. Tilden.

Ben began filling the growing equipment requirements of the LP-Gas dealers, selling cylinders, copper tubing and Bastian-Blessing Co. (now RegO) regulators and valves. In order to fully meet customer needs, he quickly realized that dealers would require brass fittings, so he started to carry an assortment of these fittings in the trunk of his green 1941 Pontiac. This service met with such acceptance that the volume of sales required a small warehouse. Thus began Tilden Engineering and Equipment Co. (TEECO).

The first “warehouse” was a 10 foot by 15 foot rented garage where shipments were made from. This facility was quickly outgrown, so TEECO moved to a 420 square foot building on Figueroa Street in Los Angeles, and remained there until 1949.

Word quickly spread throughout California, particularly in the San Joaquin Valley, and demand rapidly grew. So Ben decided to relocate TEECO centrally in the state to better serve his customers. A 40 foot by 80 foot building, formerly a grocery store, was acquired on Cherry Ave. in Fresno, CA. This was to be home to TEECO until 1953.

During the four years in Fresno, sales volume in the Los Angeles basin continued to grow rapidly, and the decision was made to relocate back to Los Angeles. Temporary warehousing was located on 14th street in a 4,000 square foot building. Then in 1956, TEECO moved into new 10,000 square foot quarters in Burbank, CA.

The staff at TEECO during these years grew from one to 19. Among those joining Ben Tilden were employees who would play a significant role in shaping the company in succeeding years. These included M.F. (Mike) Ball, John Parkhouse, Gene Hardester and D.M. (Marshall) Etter. Their efforts, along with those of others, would contribute to the continued growth of TEECO into the 1960’s.

During the 1950’s TEECO relocated several times, each time moving to larger facilities to accommodate the ever increasing equipment demands of our customers. These LP-Gas companies were growing at a phenomenal rate, fueled by new start-ups, acquisitions and mergers. Petrolane Gas Service, Suburban Gas (Doxol and Uregas) Van Gas, Pargas, California Liquid Gas Corporation (Cal-Gas) and Unigas acquired new customers and were instrumental in developing innovative and expanded uses for LP-Gas.

All of this growth placed heavy (but much appreciated) demands on TEECO to supply valves, fittings, hose, appliances, pumps and meters. As would be expected, this growth once again necessitated that TEECO find a “new” home. Following an arduous search and lengthy market review, a 20,000 square foot warehouse facility was located in rapidly growing Orange County California. This site, in Anaheim, was ideally situated near major interstate freeways for ease of shipments to all of the western United States.

During this time, TEECO, with the support of its suppliers, entered into a complete meter service program. Two field technicians in fully equipped vans, plus an inside staff, provided support to the growing industrial business in the LA/Orange County area. TEECO also entered a new market during the 1960’s, that of supplier to the agricultural industry for their liquid fertilizer applications. TEECO expanded its sales area to include all of the far west states. Population growth in these areas had fueled a greater demand for both energy and food products, and TEECO was there to help LP- Gas dealers meet those needs. Ben, Marti (Ben’s Wife), Marshall, Mike, Gene and John were leading TEECO into a new era and preparing for the seventies.

TEECO began the 1970’s in the Anaheim, CA. warehouse, servicing the eleven Western States. The customers were stable and well established companies with a record of growth. Many markets were maturing and the future looked good. Just when it appeared possible to take a breath and relax, July 25, 1972 brought the single greatest challenge to TEECO. A disastrous fire totally destroyed the warehouse, offices, inventory and equipment at the Anaheim facility. But even as the ashes cooled on July 26th, the true depth of TEECO’s character became evident. Telephones were installed, patio furniture setup, and the business of the day was handled in a parking lot under a bright California sun.

On July 27th, a new temporary warehouse was leased and the process of rebuilding was begun. TEECO’s customers, vendors, suppliers and competitors were superbly supportive in helping to overcome this immense challenge. By August 4th, over 50% of inventory had been replenished. Barely one year later, TEECO was again in a new permanent facility in Irvine, CA.

Little time was available to reflect on the events of 1972 as the first oil crisis was under way during 1973. Carburetion sales plus the support equipment was in high demand. Commercial fleets were converting to propane as rapidly possible when equipment was available. The dealers were busy with conversions and dispensing equipment.

The 1970’s were filled with major events for TEECO. Aside from the fire, the singular event of the decade was the retirement of Mr. and Mrs. Tilden and the sale of TEECO to Mr. Leonard Andrews in 1976. The changing of the guard so to speak was a major point in TEECO’s history.

The 1970’s drew to a close with the LP-Gas industry actively embroiled in vehicle conversions. This growing market caused by the second “Oil Crisis” created phenomenal demands for carburetion equipment and all of the support equipment to build the necessary infrastructure. TEECO was experiencing the pains of growth as were our customers. The need for additional distribution capacity was met with the acquisition and construction of a new 24,000 square foot warehouse in Auburn, Washington to replace the smaller Tukwila, Washington warehouse started in 1974. This along with a move to North Highlands, California from the San Francisco location provided the needed capacity to meet the growing requirement of the LP-Gas dealers.

A brief chronology of the 1970’s:
July 1972 – Disastrous fire at Anaheim CA., warehouse.
1973 – First oil crisis.
August 1973 – Move to Irvine, CA. location.
November 1974 – Seattle branch warehouse opened.
July 1975 – Acquisition of Simpson-Eckel Company, San Francisco, CA.
1976 – Mr. and Mrs. Tilden retire and sell TEECO Products to Mr. Leonard Andrews.
1978 – Second oil crisis.

This decade brought many challenges and many changes to TEECO. The strengths, capabilities and determination of TEECO’s employees, customers and suppliers helped to build a full service company for future decades and the challenges they would bring.

TEECO’s customer base was changing during the 1980’s. National marketers were restructuring and merging with one another to create even larger marketing companies. Many of these mergers resulted in the divestiture of non-related businesses acquired during the 1960’s. This generated another opportunity for TEECO in the form of the acquisition of Hill’s Gas and Appliance, with warehouses in South Dakota.

TEECO now had service facilities, sales and support staff to provide equipment and services to the eighteen Western United States. As fate would have it the rapidly expanding market came to an abrupt stop. Market demand for carburetion equipment fell off dramatically. This allowed time for the adjustment and changes for TEECO to focus on new markets, as the prior acquisition provided access to gas burning appliances that the customer needed to continue growing their business base.

In 1989 the opportunity to grow the core business became available. TEECO acquired PACA, a major fabricator of trucks and equipment, with facilities in Sacramento, California. This created a most unique operating unit: Equipment distribution, truck/vehicle fabrication and service, dispenser fabrication, LP-Gas carburetion conversion and service, along with engineering and construction capabilities. All of this in a new 46,000 square foot building on seven-plus acres; a true LP-Gas support facility for the new century.

The 1989 acquisition of PACA and the completion of the Sacramento facility allowed TEECO to concentrate on growing our efficiencies in distribution and to acquire new product lines that greatly expanded our service capabilities.

During the 1990’s, TEECO acquired the marketing rights to the Homestead Patio Heater. This proved to be a momentous acquisition as it opened new, large markets for TEECO. As the decade matured, the gas grill market evolved once again and TEECO became one of four regional marketers for an upper scale gas grill. We also acquired distribution of the R.W. Lyall poly fittings and gas riser products for the Western U.S.

At the close of the 1990’s it became apparent that our Sacramento facility could become a true “Super Store” for the LP-Gas dealers in the West. TEECO consolidated the Irvine and Sacramento inventories and warehouse functions into Sacramento, thereby providing full service from a single location to all LP-Gas dealers and other related markets. Irvine remained TEECO’s Corporate Headquarters.

The year 2000 brought high hopes and anticipation. What developed were high fuel prices, high winter temperatures and reluctant dealers. TEECO was ideally positioned for the much expected turn around and growth cycle the industry is known for.

2000 also marked TEECO’s entry into the internet. TEECO’s modest seven page website has since evolved to a valuable resource site visited thousands of times per day. This evolved in 2005 to include an Online Ordering System; a complete B2B e-commerce site with real-time data and personalized account information. The site allows customers to conduct business with TEECO 24/7.

Today, TEECO has locations in Irvine, CA; Sacramento, CA; Auburn, WA and Rapid City, SD, and is led by President and CEO, Jay Stephens. As we look ahead to the future, we can reflect on how it came about and most especially pay tribute to a few of those people who contributed immensely along the way – Ben Tilden, Martha Tilden, Leonard Andrews, John Andrews, M. F. (Mike) Ball, Gene Hardester, John Parkhouse, D.M. (Marshal) Etter, Ed Albertoni, Dwaine Goodwin and Bob Bailey. Thank you for making TEECO what it is today.

There are many more, both past and present, who have been vital to the success of TEECO. Most especially, a TEECO thanks to all of our vendors and customers for your continued support.