This excerpt taken from the VLG 10-K filed Sep 28, 2006.
The packaged gases industry is fragmented but has been undergoing consolidation. We believe that there are many reasons for this trend, including the following:
We believe that this consolidation trend will continue, providing opportunities for those distributors that have the financial and human resources to acquire and effectively assimilate acquisitions into their base business. We believe that distributors who fail to participate successfully in this consolidation trend and, thereby, achieve a strong or leading position in their market areas may be at a disadvantage in the long term.
In recent years, the propane industry has also been undergoing consolidation for many of the same reasons as the packaged gas industry. We have been taking advantage of this consolidation trend through selective acquisitions. Except for several large companies, the propane distribution industry is also highly fragmented. Industry sources indicate there are approximately 3,900 independent marketers of propane operating 13,500 local distribution centers nationwide. We believe that the 25 largest propane distributors, of which we are one, have a 50% share of the approximately nine billion gallon annual market.