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Back on the beat: Propane Expo returns to Nashville

April 22, 2022 By    
Photo: benedek/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

NPGA’s Propane Expo will return to Nashville for the first time since 2017. Photo: benedek/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Propane returns to the stage.

That is the National Propane Gas Association’s (NPGA) tagline for its 2022 Southeastern Convention & International Propane Expo, taking place April 24-26, and it suits the event in more ways than one.

This month marks the return of the Southeastern show to Nashville, Tennessee. The industry gathered in Music City for the show in 2016 and 2017, which produced record-breaking attendance numbers of more than 4,000.

Nashville was set to host the 2020 show, but the pandemic forced its cancellation. And while last year’s show took place about six months ago in Atlanta, a resurgence of COVID-19 caused some to refrain from attending the event.

But as pandemic-related concerns and restrictions seem to have eased, NPGA expects a high – perhaps even record-breaking – turnout for this year’s expo.

“We had Atlanta, and it was great to see everyone,” says Steph Hennen, marketing manager at Lakes Gas and chair of the NPGA Conventions Committee. “But we knew going into that, it wasn’t going to be what we call a ‘full show.’ So the combination of this really being that first [full show] and then, of course, being back in Nashville after five years, I’m definitely expecting and hoping to break some records with attendance.”

Steve Kaminski, president and CEO of NPGA, shares similar expectations.

“There’s a lot of excitement around it,” Kaminski says. “It’s going to be big. It’s going to be exciting. And I think we’re going to see things not only back to normal but better than ever.”

What to expect

Steph Hennen headshot

Hennen

The Propane Expo will offer nearly 40 education sessions, covering topics such as renewable propane, autogas, price risk management and entry-level driver training.

When planning the event, Hennen says a tremendous amount of work went into selecting education sessions that are engaging and cover relevant issues for industry members.

“We just want to make sure that we’re really focusing on what the current issues are in our industry, and how we can help everyone understand those issues and move forward, not only as individual companies, but as an industry,” Hennen says. “And so we work really hard to get the right speakers, to get the right sessions and to make sure we’re planning the sessions in the best way possible.”

In addition to the education sessions, attendees can hear from singer, songwriter and keynote speaker Jimmy Yeary on April 24. Technical workshops will also take place, as well as a Women in Propane roundtable and Young Gassers reception.

Collaboration and innovation

A lot has changed since 2019, the last time NPGA hosted a “full show.”

For example, the pandemic exacerbated challenges that were already present in the industry, such as employee shortages and difficulty finding drivers, Hennen explains.

“Our industry is extremely focused on the future and how we can be a big player moving forward in the future,” Hennen says. “But we’re also dealing with current issues, like employee shortages and driver shortages.”

In addition, the electrification movement has evolved, creating more challenges for the industry. The Propane Education & Research Council released new messaging to promote propane’s place as a clean fuel; talks of renewable propane heightened; and state associations from coast to coast helped to implement energy-choice bills that counter industry-threatening legislation.

New NPGA President and CEO Steve Kaminski

Kaminski

NPGA promises talk of innovation at the show, both through education sessions and networking with fellow industry members.

“Expo is the place where you’re going to see the most innovative products,” Kaminski says. “You’re going to see that innovation discussion. We’re going to have conversations about next steps around renewables, dimethyl ether and blends. We’re going to have folks from Europe talking about lessons learned. In a lot of cases, the European groups and companies are four to five years ahead of us in terms of combating these electrification efforts. So, there’s a lot in terms of growth and innovation and how we can not only protect our market against these electrification policies, but how we can actually grow it, as well.”

To provide high-quality collaboration opportunities, the Propane Expo will not offer a hybrid or virtual option. The industry works best together in person, and most of its members prefer the in-person experience, according to Kaminski.

“[Hybrid shows] just don’t have that same sort of interaction and dynamic atmosphere as a full in-person show,” Kaminski says. “And I don’t get the sense from our industry that people want hybrid shows. Of course, it’s easier for some people on occasion, but everyone has so many Zoom meetings that there’s not really an appetite for that.”

He adds: “In terms of big shows, I don’t ever see us going to a hybrid component unless we have to do so for public health reasons.”

A revamped skyline

Propane Expo attendees can expect Nashville to look different from the last time the show was held there five years ago, Hennen says. The city has grown significantly, and new hotels have sprinkled its skyline.

“If [attendees] went to Nashville five years ago, it’s going to feel like a brand new city to them [now],” Hennen says. “Nashville has kind of exploded in the past five years. It’s crazy how much it’s grown. I’ve been there about three times since 2017, and every time, it looked different. There’s new hotels going up, new bars on Broadway. I’m really excited to have everyone back in Nashville, especially if they haven’t been there since 2017, because it’s going to look completely different.”

Kristen White, director of conventions and meetings for NPGA, agrees that downtown Nashville has grown significantly since the last show there.

“You are not going to recognize that skyline,” she echoes.


Where to find LP Gas

April 23: LP Gas will host its Hall of Fame dinner and awards ceremony at the Omni Nashville Hotel, where it will honor four inductees from the Class of 2022.

April 24-26: Visit us at the Southeastern Convention & International Propane Expo in booth 500.


Jimmy Yeary headshot

Yeary

Jimmy Yeary to keynote convention

Singer, songwriter and speaker Jimmy Yeary will deliver the keynote address at the National Propane Gas Association’s Southeastern Convention & International Propane Expo on April 24 at 3 p.m.

Yeary is the lead singer of Grammy Award-winning band Shenandoah. During his career, Yeary has written more than 2,000 songs, including hits such as “Mama Knows,” “Somewhere in the Vicinity of the Heart” and “Sunday in the South.” According to NPGA, Billboard Magazine has certified nine of his songs as No. 1 hit singles.

The Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music Awards awarded Yeary with the Song of the Year for “I Drive Your Truck,” written about the father of a fallen soldier. Additionally, Yeary’s most recent No. 1 is “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright,” which he wrote for country music singers Kenny Chesney and David Lee Murphy.


Schedule of events

2022 Southeastern Convention & International Propane Expo schedule

Click to enlarge. Chart: LP Gas staff

About the Author:

Carly Bemer (McFadden) is the managing editor at LP Gas magazine. She can be reached at 216-363-3930 or cbemer@northcoastmedia.net.

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