LP Gas

2017 LP Gas Rising Leader: Christina Armentano

Vitals: Age 34; director of business development and strategic partnerships at Paraco Gas in Rye Brook, New York

Years in the propane industry: 4
But I have been around the business all of my life.

Please describe your role and responsibility, as well as your vision, in growing your company and connecting with propane customers of today: I was asked to head the business development, mergers and acquisitions team in order to expand resources within our department. … Today I am responsible for creating opportunities that align with our overall corporate strategy. Under my direction, the team will identify and pursue appropriate markets in order to increase long-term value by deploying acquisitions as a strategic tool for transforming the business. Additionally, I am passionate about formulating new and “out-of-the-box” ways of doing business to improve competitive positioning and assess new opportunities that create competitive advantage and value.

Propane industry opportunities and threats: There is tremendous opportunity to gain market share by continuing to educate consumers on the significant benefits of [propane]. New construction opportunities increase demand opportunities, as do oil-to-propane conversions and the additional uses of the energy source. … Fuel alternatives such as natural gas and electricity continue to be potential threats in the propane industry. Warm winters, customer conservation, efficiency improvements, energy competition and a slow-to-recover housing market have also led to declines specifically in the residential market.

How then can the propane industry prosper in the coming years? In the Northeast, the competitive landscape has increased with the addition of new companies entering the market that previously offered fuel oil only. For the industry to continue to prosper, we must expand the platform in which propane is the preferred, most viable and accessible energy source. We must also continue to join forces as an industry to emphasize propane as an essential fuel that provides convenience and performance benefits and, in general, improves public health and the environment as a whole.

What does your generation offer that previous generations did not? The ability to create unique and out-of-the-box concepts compared to traditional ways of doing business. My generation tends to question how and why certain things are executed. Our ability to understand and utilize technology will have a significant and positive impact on propane from an e-commerce perspective, opening up additional channels and ways of selling our product.

What technologies are you using (or plan to use) to support business operations? We are extremely metrics driven and utilize a variety of systems to track our progress to ensure our operations run smoothly. These systems provide the company with the opportunity to also understand the productivity of our workforce and hold our employees accountable while rewarding successful performance.

As an effort to leverage technology and go green, we plan to reduce our paper by 98 percent in 2017. We have also invested in a more robust software program allowing increased utilization of our human resource management system from 10 percent to 100 percent in 2017 for talent management, human resource planning and human capital. This will reduce human error and create faster, more efficient processes. Lastly, 100 percent of our employee base has an email for company communications.

Externally, we promote a forward-thinking approach to how we interact with our customer base from a technology perspective. In addition to the traditional methods of communication, we feature “chat” functionality, so customers can communicate via instant message. We provide an online customer portal that allows customers to view and pay bills online, request deliveries and service appointments, purchase a pre-buy program and go paperless. We have mobile point-of-sale in our propane delivery trucks with signature capture. As a safety feature, we are highly invested in GPS technology that remotely captures the speed of our vehicles. And we work diligently and take all necessary precautions against cyber threats.