LP Gas, PERC partner on first Rising Leaders roundtable

April 19, 2018 By    

LP Gas magazine, in partnership with the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), held the first LP Gas Rising Leaders roundtable prior to the NPGA’s Southeastern Convention & International Propane Expo in Atlanta.

LP Gas launched the annual Rising Leaders initiative last year to recognize the propane industry’s young leaders and share their ideas for business success and the future.

The magazine has chosen 24 individuals over two years, and about half of them gathered at the Georgia World Congress Center to discuss opportunities and challenges at their respective propane operations.

PERC leaders fueled a discussion about propane industry issues and the resources available to help propane retailers meet their business needs.

PERC president and CEO Tucker Perkins urged the group to “embrace your youth, your knowledge and the basis of the generations behind you, and seize on it to make change.”

Perkins referenced recent industry discussions about improving propane’s image and developing its workforce.

“We’re going to change our image by beginning to show we’re not only a fuel of change, but the people who serve it can change and the processes by which we serve it can change,” he says.

Perkins cited renewable propane as an example of industry innovation and propane-fueled grain dryers as a way to show the gains being made in equipment efficiency.

“I encourage you all to be the leaders in your office, in your state and across the country, as we think about how to do things materially different,” he says.

Discussion topics

Roundtable participants covered a number of topics over the course of nearly 90 minutes. One key topic that arose was the industry’s need to educate local officials, legislators and end users about propane.

“Each of us has a responsibility to be out there educating those who need to know about propane,” says Christina Armentano, executive vice president of sales and business development at Paraco Gas.

Armentano says she’s been traveling, talking to local officials and legislators about propane. In her conversations, she is surprised to learn that many people “have absolutely no idea what we do, and it’s scary.”

Ofelio Martinez of Propane Ninja adds, “We have to do a better job as an industry to market the end user. We need the marketing, the push. We need to teach people about propane.”

Discussion also shifted to propane gallon growth and protecting current volume from competing energy sources.

Luke Fitzpatrick, a district manager at MFA Oil, says the industry has room to grow in the agricultural market, to serve applications such as poultry and hog operations. He says his company also has found success in the propane mower market, into which it sells hundreds of thousands of gallons annually.

“There are usually two schools of thought [with customers],” he says. “They either want to save money or be on the environmental side. You have to know your audience to be able to tailor it toward them.”

Roundtable participants also talked about the type of support they receive from their respective state associations; workforce development; and propane markets including autogas and cylinder exchange.

“The entire industry needs help with recruiting – new people, new ideas, fresh attitudes, fresh opinions,” says Emily Willis, director of marketing at Blossman Gas. “That is our biggest barrier.”

Brian Richesson

About the Author:

Brian Richesson is the editor in chief of LP Gas Magazine. Contact him at brichesson@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3748.

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