2020 LP Gas Rising Leader: Phillip Scheel

February 19, 2020 By    


The essentials: Age 37; co-owner, CEO at Tumbleweed Propane Inc. in Thermopolis, Wyoming

Years in the propane industry: 11

How did you get your start in the propane industry?

In 2009, my wife and I moved to her hometown and purchased the propane company from her mother. My business partner and wife, Shurie, and I started with an old bobtail and a couple hundred customers. In just over 10 years, we have grown to nearly 1,000 residential, commercial, agricultural and industrial customers selling nearly 1 million gallons annually. We have a team of six employees, three bobtails, two service trucks and in 2018 completed construction on a new office and shop.

What is your vision for growing your company, and how can you achieve that vision?

My vision is a simple three-part strategy: personalized service, every gallon counts, and treat customers and employees as I would like to be treated. As I have transitioned from the only bobtail/service technician to a management/company leadership role, our vision is my primary focus. When I lead our team by providing the training, resources and flexibility to accomplish our vision, growth and profit have been the outcome.

How can the propane industry prosper in the coming years?

The propane industry has changed so much during my tenure that, in my opinion and experience, prosperity is the way of the future. Partner organizations like the Rocky Mountain Propane Association (RMPA), Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) and National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) help and hold our industry together. Training, education, advertising and consumer awareness programs provided by PERC, and legislative information and efforts by the NPGA, are invaluable to the future success of the propane industry. As a past president and current treasurer of the RMPA, I have experienced a direct connection with other industry leaders. When we all join together through PERC and the NPGA, we enjoy a synergy through national initiatives. This leads to a prosperous future for our industry.

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

With respect to the generations of industry leaders before me, I feel that we today have so many opportunities and tools to offer benefits in the years to come. Technology is the greatest asset to propane professionals today. When I was first able to attend the Western Propane Trade Show and Convention in Reno, Nevada, most exhibitors were selling valves, tanks, insurance, transports and paint. Recently, I find more than half of the show vendors are displaying routing software, invoicing and collection programs, and computerized truck and delivery tracking and reporting packages. I feel that these new tools don’t replace good customer service but compliment and add value to my company’s ability to meet our customers’ needs.

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

We have implemented a few new technologies that support our business operation. Even though this might seem to be a no-brainer, a web and social media presence has been fruitful (even in the frontier of northern Wyoming). We use a cloud-based invoicing system, as well as a web-accessible routing and customer service program for drivers. QuickBooks Online, Google Suite and other simple tools help support and grow our business.

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