Certain jobs are best left to a professional – that’s you

August 1, 2014 By    

In early discussions about a new propane industry safety program on the potential dangers of do-it-yourself gas projects, a baseball analogy was born.

“It’s the World Series, Game 7, bottom of the ninth,” Scott Brockelmeyer, vice president of corporate communications and marketing for Ferrellgas, as well as a St. Louis Cardinals fan, says to me. “Are you going to toss the ball to Brian Richesson or Mariano Rivera?”

The reference, of course, is that it’s best to leave certain jobs to a professional. And though our offices here are only blocks from Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Indians, I think we’d all want the recently retired Yankee on the mound in such a high-pressure situation.

Certainly the gas industries have their own kind of high-pressure situations, with more on the line than winning and losing. Lives are at stake.

Do-it-yourself gas projects are “absolutely a concern,” Brockelmeyer says. “Tens of thousands of people each year, perhaps millions, participate in do-it-yourself projects. People see it as an enjoyable activity, a recreational activity and a great way to save money. But anyone in the propane industry is quick to tell you there are things best left to a professional.”

Our safety issue this month looks at how the propane industry is trying to reach these do-it-yourselfers before they go too far. You can read it here and see how propane retailers can play a role.

Blue Rhino update
Staying on the topic of safety, the Orlando Sentinel continues to report on the aftermath of last July’s blast at a Blue Rhino propane cylinder production facility in Tavares, Fla., where five workers were severely burned.

The latest, according to the newspaper: In a written response to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, lawyers for Ferrellgas, Blue Rhino’s parent company, said any unsafe conditions at the plant linked to the incident and described by the agency were the result of “isolated and unauthorized actions by certain employees and/or supervisors.”

Ferrellgas had previously told us it is contesting all allegations and fines. A hearing on the company’s challenge is set for September, the newspaper reported.

Industry safety materials
Information about several new safety-related deliverables crossed our desk in recent weeks.

The Propane Education & Research Council’s (PERC) Safety and Training Working Group helped develop an updated transport operator training program; brochures and flyers outlining responsibilities of propane tank ownership; and a flyer featuring tips about the safe and efficient operation of propane autogas vehicles. Visit propanemarc.com to see how you can incorporate them into your business.

Business directives
I’ll leave you with a few directives that we picked up from Tucker Perkins, PERC’s chief business development officer, at the Western Propane Trade Show & Convention.

The directive: “Go have a relationship with a builder. Tell them who you are and how propane works.”

The idea being: Propane can offer efficient space heating for new homes, but it also can fuel other applications such as water heating, cooking, clothes drying, fireplaces and generators. With residential demand falling each year, builders need to know this.

The directive: “Stop by your local rental store and say ‘I’m the propane guy in this town and I want you to be aware of these products.’”

The idea being: New propane-fueled products such as mobile generators and hybrid light towers are available and should pique the interest of rental store owners and construction professionals.

The directive: “Go meet your [commercial mower] dealer and follow up with customers.”

The idea being: One commercial mower running on propane can burn the equivalent volume of two residential accounts – about 1,000 gallons per year. The industry provides cylinder exchange programs for forklift customers, so why not for mowers? This potentially lucrative mower market needs a boost, and you can help.

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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