LP Gas

Travel goals, takeaways from the Propane Expo

The LP Gas staff attended the Young Gassers reception at the Propane Expo.

Whether it’s the Southeastern Convention in April, the Western Trade Show in May, the Mid-States Propane Expo in June or any other propane industry event, you have specific reasons for attending and you probably ask yourself: What am I trying to accomplish here?

For example, as we travel to events, we’re looking for great content to share with our readers – content that can help you, your business and the propane industry.

Having left Nashville, Tennessee, where the National Propane Gas Association’s (NPGA) Southeastern Convention & International Propane Expo ended a two-year run in the Music City and now returns to the long-running host city of Atlanta for two years, we offer notable items from our southern travels. This includes information to…

Inspire: Like when Blossman Gas President and CEO Stuart Weidie says, “Comfort is the enemy of success.” Or, “We don’t have a supply problem in the U.S. We have a demand problem.” Or, while speaking about building propane demand in emerging markets, “Sometimes it takes decades to be successful in these endeavors.”

Uncover opportunities: Like when Weidie, also NPGA chairman, says, “I’m for water heaters,” and notes that 4.5 million existing propane customers are without a propane water heater.

Contemplate alternatives: Like when ProGas Inc. President Ron Schramm tells us the industry must consider establishing minimum propane inventory reserves as a safeguard against future supply problems. The industry faced supply and distribution challenges during the 2013-14 winter. Since then, U.S. propane exports have ramped up to record levels, and much of the country has experienced back-to-back mild winters. “No one is talking about it,” Schramm says, “and we need to.”

Warn of threats: Like when Mike Sloan of ICF cites electricity as the big subtracter of propane market share and also warns against growing regional efforts to address carbon emission standards. Moreover, Blue Star Gas President Jeff Stewart presented to the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) in Nashville on the topic of zero net energy (ZNE) and the prospects of developing renewable propane to help preserve core markets and avoid falling behind even further to renewable competitors. With ZNE, a building must generate as much energy as it consumes over one year.

Stewart says ZNE has the ability to reduce propane sales in the residential and commercial markets in the coming years unless the industry can define its role in this new regulatory environment. The issue started in California, but a number of states are rolling out ZNE code requirements, he says.

“We must have a complete ZNE product suite,” says Stewart, whose company operates in California, Oregon and Washington.

Meanwhile, the propane industry is taking notice of the issue.

“[ZNE] is an existential threat to the future of this industry,” says NPGA President and CEO Rick Roldan. “Our board voted unanimously to establish this as an industry priority.”

Grow relationships: On the eve of the Propane Expo, LP Gas magazine announced a partnership with propane industry veteran Rita Pecilunas. The president of Strategic Marketing Resources and the former marketing director and vice president of marketing and member services at NPGA joined LP Gas as a sales and marketing specialist. Pecilunas will work closely with LP Gas Publisher Brian Kanaba and the LP Gas team on key propane industry initiatives, including the LP Gas Growth Summit, taking place Sept. 18-20 in Orlando, Florida.

Honor leaders: Roy Willis has been working on the “PERC toolbox for nearly 20 years,” as he puts it, as the council’s first and only president and CEO, but he will retire in July. We also recognized the 2017 class of the LP Gas Hall of Fame in Nashville, and we’re now accepting 2018 nominations at lpgashalloffame.com. Help us lift a deserving industry leader into the spotlight.