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All-inclusive: Men support Women in Propane

September 15, 2022 By     0 Comments

Men see the value of Women in Propane.

Which is a positive now considering Nancy Coop was the only woman on the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) Executive Committee in 2011, and a year later women comprised less than 2 percent on its board of directors.

The complexion began to change in 2012 when NPGA approved the formation of the Women in Propane Council, with Coop, an LP Gas Hall of Famer, as the driving force. She’s proud to note today, with the council celebrating 10 years, that women make up about 13 percent of NPGA’s board, chaired for the first time by a woman in Michelle Bimson Maggi of AmeriGas.

Opportunities for all

Women in Propane doesn’t exist just for women; Coop and the council’s leadership are quick to point that out. They recognize the supporting role men have played in the council’s formation and development, welcome men as members and promote its programming to the entire industry.

“Many men are still unclear about their opportunity to participate,” Coop shares.

Coop has referred to Tom Jaenicke of Warm Thoughts Communications as a Women in Propane co-founder – a title he deflects, instead crediting Coop for making the idea a reality.

That idea stemmed from Jaenicke’s project work as a propane industry representative at National Association of Home Builders events, where he noticed the organization’s Women in Building Council. He saw parallels between the homebuilding industry, with many small and midsized family businesses, and the propane industry. He brought the idea to Coop, and she liked it.

“That’s when she really rounded up supporters of the concept,” he says.

Another being Ray Murray of Ray Murray Inc., who in 2011 served as chair-elect of the NPGA board as Coop brought the idea to the association. Women in Propane had his support because he saw a need for more women to get involved in NPGA and for the industry to benefit from its programs.

Just as Women in Propane had support from men at the outset, it also continues to attract new male members today (though men make up only about 6 percent of its 500-person membership). That includes Freddie Ridler of Rural Computer Consultants.

With time to reflect during the pandemic, Ridler sought ways to better himself. He recalls walking into the NPGA booth at the Propane Expo last fall in Atlanta and saying, “My name is Freddie Ridler, and I’d like to volunteer. I’m positive, energetic and I have so much to say. I want to be part of something special.”

NPGA suggested Ridler consider Women in Propane. Hesitant at first, he began to learn about its leaders, events and programs, and saw how the council could help make him a better person and leader.

“This is exactly what I’m going to do,” he thought, and now Ridler will host the council’s new podcast, “Through the Leadership Lens,” which launches in September.

“It was a crazy turn of events where one day I said, ‘I need more involvement,’ and boy did that happen,” he says.

Along the way, Women in Propane formed an advisory committee, composed of industry volunteers – many of them men. It meets several times a year to elicit industry feedback on council matters as well as new ideas and programs.

The Women in Propane Council is soaring as it welcomes all industry members along for the ride.

Men playing a role

Some of the men who have made their support known to Women in Propane in various ways:

  • Steve Abbate, Cetane Associates
  • Gene Bissell, formerly of AmeriGas
  • James Devens, Superior Plus
  • Rich Goldberg, Warm Thoughts Communications
  • Ben Gutkin, Warm Thoughts Communications
  • Mike Hopsicker, Ray Murray Inc.
  • Tom Jaenicke, Warm Thoughts Communications
  • John Jessup, Southeast Propane Alliance
  • Steve Kaminski, National Propane Gas Association
  • Ray Murray, Ray Murray Inc.
  • Freddie Ridler, Rural Computer Consultants
  • Greg Wasson, Irish Carbonic and Propane
  • Stuart Weidie, Blossman Gas

About the Author:

Brian Richesson is the editor in chief of LP Gas Magazine. Contact him at brichesson@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3748.

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