Agricultural co-op commits to leak checks

April 13, 2018 By    

Photo courtesy of the Propane Education & Research Council

Propane retailers have many ways to ensure safety with their organizations and customers. Whether it’s with CETP, monthly meetings or customer safety checks, retailers do what they can to ensure their businesses are operating safely.

In that vein, Co-Alliance LLP, an agricultural cooperative in Avon, Indiana, takes it upon itself to ensure that every customer it serves gets a leak check.

“We had a few customers who had house fires,” says Mike Hayden, propane manager at Co-Alliance. “None of them were propane related, but it was kind of our ‘ah-ha’ moment that we had to renew our safety emphasis.”

With that in mind, the company established a strategy and a budget for completing leak checks for each customer. It added 15 members to its staff, including office personnel, field technicians completing the checks and managers. The company hoped to complete all leak checks within two years and managed to finish them in 19 months.

According to Hayden, the company initially asked customers to comply with the policy, but it soon changed its approach. Co-Alliance told customers that it wouldn’t deliver again unless the customer agreed to a system leak check.

“We didn’t do that in the winter; we did it in the summer,” Hayden says. “And really I could count the number of people we lost in that program on one hand.”

For anyone looking to implement a similar safety strategy, Hayden warns it is painful and expensive, but he also says it is worth the pain to know customers are safe and you are providing the best service possible.

“It’s very liberating and refreshing when you’re done,” he says. “You go to bed at night knowing you’ve been there and you’ve checked the system. Every system that’s modified has been tested. You just know that you’re doing a better job at caring for your customers. Because the big picture is we are the experts. We’re held accountable for those people in a court of law, but really those customers want us to be accountable for their safety.”

About the Author:

Clara Richter was a managing editor at LP Gas magazine.

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