When Mark Delehanty, owner of Pennsylvania-based Independence Propane, first became involved with the Pennsylvania Propane Gas Association’s (PAPGA) executive board in 2006, he noticed a lack of youth represented in the group.
Delehanty, then 30, wanted to change that within the association.
After a few years of discussing possible ways to get younger people involved in the association, Delehanty and PAPGA’s board members decided to form GeneratioNext, a committee dedicated to encouraging younger industry employees to get involved in association leadership. About half a dozen people attended the committee’s first meeting in the summer of 2015.
Since GeneratioNext’s first meeting, word spread among Pennsylvania retailers about the new committee, and about 20 to 30 people now attend the group’s meetings.
“There seems to be an eagerness among our leadership to encourage the younger people to become involved in the leadership of the association,” Delehanty says.
Other similar groups are also forming in the propane industry. The National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) also recently formed a similar group to address the issue of finding future leaders in the propane industry. NPGA has formed a workforce development task force to help determine how best to recruit new quality employees to the propane industry and retain them.
“This topic has been discussed for a number of years, particularly at board meetings for NPGA,” says Stuart Weidie, president and CEO of Blossman Gas and chairman of NPGA’s board of directors.
Based on Weidie’s discussions with other state associations, the issue of recruiting new, younger people to the propane industry seems to be a common problem.
“As I traveled around, I heard this issue over and over again,” he says. “It’s been in the making the last several years.”
NPGA’s workforce development task force is in its early stages, but Weidie says he hopes this might help ease some of the issues of attracting new talent to the industry. Several other state associations have also expressed an interest in developing committees similar to what PAPGA offers, Weidie adds.
“If the industry expects to attract people to it in the future, it has to be a growing, thriving industry,” Weidie says. “We’re deluding ourselves into thinking we can find good, quality people to work in our industry if we’re in decline. We better grow something rather than live on the past.”