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2024 LP Gas Rising Leader: Chris McGuire

February 9, 2024 By    

Logo: incomible/musri/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Company: Lakes Gas / Wyoming, Minnesota

Job title: Division manager

Years in the propane industry: 14

How did you get your start in the propane industry?

I was very lucky that the industry found me. It was my first job out of college, and I haven’t looked back. I started with Ferrellgas in Fargo, North Dakota, as a general manager, and now I am with Lakes Gas, based in Wyoming, Minnesota. I grew up working for a family business, and now working for one of the biggest family-owned propane companies in the country has been a great fit. The industry is full of great people, and I have made many lasting relationships because of it.

How do you help lead your company in your current role?

I oversee the operations of what we call the West Division. It includes southeast North Dakota, northeast South Dakota and western Minnesota down to the Iowa border. I do my best to help the local branches with strategy and planning, resource allocation, clear roadblocks they face and ensure they have everything they need to grow and take care of the customers. I get the privilege to work with some of the best people at the local branch levels.

What change would you like to see to the propane industry to ensure its success?

Our industry relies mostly on two main things: people and trucks. We need to continue to invest in recruiting and bringing in new generations of [the] workforce. I believe that starts with helping break down the stigma of blue-collar work and having a rewarding career that doesn’t need a college education. In that same vein, a lot of us are at the mercy of our local truck shop and mechanic. We need to ensure that career path is alluring as well.

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

One of the biggest traits I think newer generations have is adaptability and readiness to leverage technology where it wasn’t previously used before. We have the ability to work from pretty much anywhere with a cell signal. I am able to visit multiple locations in a single day and still be plugged in. We are just starting to see the power of AI and the many uses it brings to business. I would be very surprised if within three years everyone wasn’t using it in some capacity.

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

We use tank monitors, routing software and other industry standards. Technology can only do so much for you, though. At the end of the day, we are still interacting with people on a daily basis. We have local customer service representatives answering phone calls, and if our customers would like to visit any of our offices, we welcome them to drop on by.

What propane industry associations are you involved with at the state and/or the national level?

I am on the NPGA Propane Supply & Logistics Committee.

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

Lakes Gas has been a great place to continue my career. It is filled with wonderful people. If I’m not at work, chances are I’m with my wonderful wife at a rink or field watching one of our four boys play hockey or lacrosse.

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