2018 LP Gas Rising Leader: Nicole Sullivan

February 9, 2018 By    


Essentials: Age 35; senior vice president at Anderson Propane Service in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Years in the propane industry: 13

How did you get your start in the propane industry?

I applied for a staff accountant position and had every intention of only staying for a couple of years while I finished up grad school. Here I am, 13 years later, and I can’t envision a professional future outside of the propane industry.

What is your vision for growing your company and how can you make that vision become a reality?

Our company roadmap includes future plans like expanding into new geographical markets and developing existing business segments. It is my job to ensure we fully understand the principles of those new initiatives, and any other in our company’s future, so we don’t build on shaky ground. As an individual, I contribute a relentlessness to push beyond the comfort zone and make sure we continuously challenge the status quo. But my most important contribution is to hire and retain employees more skilled and smarter than I am, make sure they have the right resources to succeed and then get out of their way. In my relatively short time as a leader, I have learned time and time again that success is dependent upon empowering the right people.

How can the propane industry prosper in the coming years?

There are existing and obvious approaches we can take to achieve a prosperous future, like continuing to educate legislators, market new and innovative ways to use propane, and recruit and retain new talent. But a lot of the progress already achieved is often overshadowed by a negative public perception of our industry during the times our customers really depend on us. In a Google News search of the word “propane,” especially during a cold winter, you will mostly see articles on customer runouts or fears and complaints over higher prices. Whether or not these customer concerns are accurate, they are the perception of the public in many regions. I believe we need to do a better job at securing and diversifying supply, having adequate storage and projecting customer demand so that we can more responsibly serve our customers rather than simply reacting in times of crisis. A more concerted effort on the part of our industry as a whole will get these headlines out of the media and allow all of our success stories to get the attention they deserve.

Sullivan works to ensure that her company is growing from a solid foundation. Photo courtesy of Anderson Propane Service

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

As a Generation X/millennial cusper, I think our generation brings a voracious appetite for change. I am not accusing previous generations of not having the same type of energy, especially since I wasn’t there, but it takes a different format in today’s world. This approach to change often involves leveraging technology to grow our business, but I think it is more about our desire to challenge old standards while maintaining respect for the history. It’s also important that we avoid change for change’s sake.

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

About four years ago, we converted our back office to Cargas Energy and, as a result, have gained efficiency across the board. Measurable results include improvements in our delivery efficiency and service department. We have also invested in Silicon Controls’ Gas Log tank monitors and will continue to add more and more of those in the field.

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

As a child, I never stood up on career day and said I wanted to work in the propane industry, but I genuinely feel lucky to have stumbled upon it. Although I am not a member of the Anderson family, they have always given unabated support of my development and I am grateful to call so many colleagues I have met along the way, true friends. I feel immensely privileged to be a part of the industry.

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1 Comment on "2018 LP Gas Rising Leader: Nicole Sullivan"

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  1. Nancy sawyer says:

    Great article Nicole, congratulations on your success