A future in the propane industry

October 19, 2016 By    
Photo courtesy of Steph Hennen

Mike Hennen, Steph Hennen’s father and a Westmor Industries employee, built Steph a miniature pink bobtail model. Photo courtesy of Steph Hennen

Sitting on my desk at school is a model bobtail that has been spray-painted pink.

No matter where I go, that bobtail comes with me. Not only is it a great conversation starter, but also it is a reminder to me of where I am and where I’m going.

I grew up around the propane industry. My dad, Mike Hennen, has worked for Westmor Industries since the late 1980s and has been in the industry for nearly 30 years. I remember going to look at a bobtail that Westmor built in 2009, and it had a pink decal on it for Breast Cancer Awareness month. After that day, I would consistently ask my dad to please build another pink bobtail. Three years later, he finally listened to me and made me my very own pink bobtail. It may have only been a model bobtail, but to me it was perfect.

In 2013, I graduated from high school and headed to work for Westmor Industries in the company’s marketing department. That summer, I had the opportunity to attend the Minnesota Propane Trade Show and Convention in Duluth, Minnesota. After the show, I knew the propane industry was the place for me.

Going into college, you can imagine people’s reactions when I told them I wanted to work in propane. “Oh, hmmm, really?” My reaction to them was always the same, “Yes! Really! Propane is cool.” Three years later, I’m entering my senior year at South Dakota State University, and I’m known on campus as “that girl who loves propane.”

During my sophomore year, I attended our annual career fair and talked with quite a few companies, including CHS. Tina, one of the college recruiters, talked me through the process of how to apply for an internship at CHS. I immediately applied for the propane marketing intern position at the corporate office in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota. I was nervous, but a couple of months later I got the call that they would like to interview me. In January 2015, I interviewed via Skype. Later that same day, I got a call saying they wanted to offer me the position.

I’ve interned with CHS Propane’s marketing department for the past two summers. During my internships, I’ve had the opportunity to contribute to meaningful and challenging projects – experiences that have helped me grow personally and professionally. The team at CHS has even helped me develop skills that I didn’t even know existed.

I’ve now worked in the industry for nearly five years, both on the equipment manufacturing side with Westmor and the wholesale side with CHS. I was drawn to this industry and I will stay in this industry because of the people. Across the propane industry, you will always find a helping hand and a smiling face, something that can be hard to come by these days.

Not many people my age know much about propane, and I believe that will be our biggest challenge in the next couple of years.

How do we get my generation excited about the industry? It’s simple – just talk to them and tell them why you’re in this industry. If you ask any of my friends, they’ll tell you how much I love propane – which is true – but what I love even more is telling people why I love it. My No. 1 goal in my professional life is to help current and future propane industry participants realize the potential of the industry.

For those who have been in the industry for a while and may think propane is losing its spark, let me tell you this: It’s not. There is so much that can be done to allow this industry to thrive, and I can’t wait to be a part of that. So, when I sit at my desk and look at my pink bobtail, I know that the propane industry has a very bright future.


Steph Hennen is a senior at South Dakota State University studying agricultural communications and agricultural leadership. She is a part of the Alpha Zeta Honor Society, president of the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow Club and an ambassador for the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences.

1 Comment on "A future in the propane industry"

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  1. Nicole Logan says:

    Great article, Steph! You have a very bright future in the propane industry! The industry is lucky to have you!