2018 LP Gas Rising Leader: C. Ryan DiGuiseppe

February 9, 2018 By    

DiGuiseppe

Essentials: Age 28; northeast sales for Global Gas Inc.

Years in the propane industry: 5

How did you get your start in the propane industry?

When I graduated from college, I went to work for a propane transport company named Venezia LPG Services. In that role, my responsibility was to sell transportation services to propane producers and wholesalers, but we also dealt directly with marketers and end-users as well. This put me in a unique position to learn the industry from both the supply and marketer side. That knowledge gave me a well-rounded perspective of the industry that I bring to our customers.

Please describe your role and responsibility, as well as your vision, in growing your company and connecting with propane customers of today:

I am responsible for wholesale propane sales in the Northeast. I live in the greater Philadelphia area, so I spend a lot of time with our customers in their offices and at trade shows. We connect with our customers by providing information and transparency. The supply landscape has changed drastically over the past several years. Propane is now sold on a global market and the gas goes to the highest bidder. Our management invests significant resources to make sure Global Gas stays on top of current trends in supply. Our customers don’t have access to that information, so we bring our knowledge back to them and together create a reliable supply plan. Too often, I hear of marketers who feel like their relationship with their supplier is “us vs. them.” It takes a partnership between supplier and marketer to navigate the changing supply landscape. My vision for growth is to continue to build these partnerships through trust, information and reliability.

What do you consider to be the greatest opportunities and threats in the propane industry today?

Opportunities: I believe the greatest opportunity for growth in the propane industry is in the autogas sector. Everyone in the propane industry felt the effects of the last two warm winters. The impact those years had on most companies’ bottom lines was significant. I think the industry should use it as motivation to look for nontraditional approaches to grow gallons. Autogas, specifically school buses or other large vehicle fleet applications, is not weather dependent. These accounts can keep bobtails moving all year round and help protect bottom lines from the volatility of weather dependent accounts. From a supply perspective, if the industry is able to increase demand ratability, it will be more attractive for producers to keep gas here as opposed to exporting it.

Threats: The biggest threat to the industry that I see is the lack of infrastructure. Attempts are being made to add storage and improve infrastructure, but most of them are stopped dead in their tracks. A large-scale example is the upstate New York storage project. There is a dormant salt cavern with enough capacity to store all of New York’s propane supply for an entire heating season, with virtually no environmental risk, yet the project faces a mountain of opposition. On a smaller scale, I hear the same complaint from marketers from Maryland to Maine. Installing a new storage tank or adding additional storage is very difficult. It’s not uncommon for it to take a marketer several years before they have all of the approvals they need to add one 30,000-gallon storage tank.

How then can the propane industry prosper in the coming years?

From a legislative standpoint, we need to continue to work with local, state and national regulatory authorities so they can better understand the needs of our industry.

At the marketer level, we need to continue with public outreach efforts to educate consumers about the diverse range of propane applications. Once the word is out, demand will become more ratable, and with improved infrastructure, propane can finally break free from its stigma of being expensive and hard to find in the winter.

What does your generation offer to the propane industry that previous generations did not?

Our generation can connect with customers more easily than ever, and that has to be taken advantage of. Technological advances allow us to improve our customer experience and our own businesses at the same time. The amount of information we can gather and use in marketing efforts is incredible. Several of our customers have employed full-time or third-party marketing experts, and the results they’ve gotten from those investments have been extremely positive. As younger generations enter the industry, we bring an entirely new network of people with us. We need to make sure we’re getting our message out, and we have the tools to do it more effectively than ever before.

What specific technologies are you using (or plan to use) to support business operations?

We use remote tank monitoring to help us manage our customers’ supply. We are able to get real-time tank percentages, which really helps us with load scheduling. Many of our customers are set up so they never have to call us to order gas. They let us watch their tanks and send transport loads in as needed. It’s a big help to them during the peak season when things are hectic. If they get busy and forget to order a load, they can be in big trouble. If we can see their tanks, that won’t ever happen.

On-board scanning is another technology we’re starting to see. The transport companies who haul for us have scanners in their trucks, so they can get us BOLs and other paperwork almost in real time. This allows us to pass information to our customers much faster, which everyone seems to want these days.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself, your company and/or the propane industry?

On a personal level, the propane industry has treated me very well so far in my early career. I hope to continue working in the industry until retirement, as I really love the people I work with and the customers we do business with. By the time my career is over, I hope to have contributed as much to the industry as my mentors have. I’m currently involved in several state associations throughout the Northeast, and I hope to one day get involved at the national level. Our owner sits on the NPGA supply committee, and has served on countless other boards and committees throughout her career. The work she has done has most certainly changed the industry for the better. I hope to accomplish the same. As a company, I believe that what we’re doing at Global Gas can help bring positive change to the industry. Our team has extensive experience across all sectors of the industry – retail, wholesale and transportation. With that experience, we help our customers make informed supply decisions, but we also bring that knowledge to producers to help them better understand the needs of the independent marketers. We’re in a unique position that allows us to act as a liaison between the producer and marketer, and with our experience sitting on both sides of the table, we hope to improve the supply sector of the industry.

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