First hall of fame class produces sense of pride for industry to share

February 9, 2012 By    

I never met half of them, yet somehow I feel a kinship with the nine men whose tireless work forged legacies that have earned them the first seats in the Propane Hall of Fame.

It’s a pride that I truly hope the rest of the industry shares as they are honored at our black-tie dinner and awards ceremony April 13 at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in downtown Atlanta.

Congratulations and welcome Mark Anton, John Blossman, James Ferrell, Sam McTier, Robert Myers, Walter Snelling, Milford Therrell, H. Emerson Thomas and John Wallace.

We launch this landmark event to recognize the pioneers, icons and leaders and create a permanent legacy for their outstanding work. It’s our contribution to the industry’s proud, yearlong celebration of its 100-year anniversary.

I’ve always been intrigued by history. I think it’s vital to understand our roots and remember how we came to own this slice of the American Dream we call the propane industry. I believe the Hall of Fame underscores that sense of tradition.

I wonder what thoughts would have gone through the keen, curious minds of Snelling, Thomas and Anton to be recognized for the foundation they laid a full century ago. Would it be just another plaque on a crowded wall for the rest of these industry giants, most of whom have already been lauded for contributions to business, industry, charity and community over the years?

The answer became clearer with each phone call to notify the inductees and those who nominated them.

John Wallace joked that there likely weren’t many industry folks still around since his fond days at the helm of Petrolane some 25 years ago. He said he’s anxious to reconnect and catch up with old friends in Atlanta.

Friend Glenn Miller and daughter Betsy Therrell Collins both choked up explaining how much the award would have meant to Milford Therrell, the Squibb-Taylor rep who rose through the ranks to become president of the Dallas equipment supplier.

Frank McTier said he literally jumped up and down when he learned of his Uncle Sam’s selection.

Mark Anton, grandson and namesake of the man who formed Suburban Propane and helped establish the national trade association, said the news made a great Christmas gift for their thousands of proud employees.

Bob Myers said it was humbling – quickly noting that humility is not his strongest suit – to be listed among the elite members of the industry.

Overall, I’m pleased with the results of our first selection process. We opened the nomination processs to the entire industry using the magazine’s website. We chose to consider people from the full spectrum of industry service, reasoning that a longtime bobtail driver with an unblemished record may be equally worthy as an association leader or successful company CEO.

The nomination process produced 44 names for consideration over three months. That number should grow as the event gets wider recognition and the nomination process expands to six months. We’ll start taking nominations for next year’s class at the conclusion of the 2012 awards ceremony.

Our 11-member Selection Committee discussed the merits of every nominee. It also rated each for “moving the needle” for the industry as a whole. For example, Blossman helped start an industry-wide safety training program, Myers nurtured the motor fuel market and Therrell instigated a means to finance desperately needed industry research and development.

I’m sure we’ll hear from some folks disgruntled that someone they consider more worthy is not going into the Hall of Fame this April. For the record, committee members could not vote for persons not formally nominated via our website process. Those nominated but not chosen as inductees in 2012 automatically qualify for consideration in future years.

This year the propane industry celebrates 100 years of growth from its meager Pennsylvania roots to its promising role in solving America’s pressing need for a clean, reliable energy alternative. Please join us in saluting nine special men for their roles in building that century of excellence.

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