Your behavior appears to be a little unusual. Please verify that you are not a bot.

Effective partnerships matter

January 24, 2022 By    
Bergquist’s Trent Johnson, center, and VAPGA’s Dennis Cruise, left, teach ABC’s plumbing students from a propane system board. (Photo by Darryl L. McDonald)

Bergquist’s Trent Johnson, center, and VAPGA’s Dennis Cruise, left, teach ABC’s plumbing students from a propane system board. (Photo by Darryl L. McDonald)

Partnerships are an effective way for the propane industry to solve its workforce and environmental messaging challenges.

Because the propane industry is small and fragmented, one could easily argue that, without partnerships, our attempts to go it alone will cost more while producing fewer results. This has been a theme in my column for years.

Our industry’s dire need for productive and well-trained technicians is well known. What is also commonly known is the plumbing and HVAC trades have long needed sound propane education that can lead to safe installations that are code-compliant. Trade professionals who know propane are more likely to promote propane rather than electricity.

My involvement with the Virginia Propane Gas Association (VAPGA) gave me the chance to see firsthand how partnerships can create win-win results. In this case, the VAPGA partnered with the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) – Virginia Chapter to add propane curriculum to its plumbing and gas-fitter training.

This two-year partnership provides a testimony of what it takes to establish a successful partnership and proves the benefits of such relationships.

Keys to effective partnerships

Darryl McDonald, ABC’s plumbing instructor. (Photo by Amber Stricker)

Darryl McDonald, ABC’s plumbing instructor. (Photo by Amber Stricker)

  1. Engaged state association: Engagement begins with leadership. Nicole Sullivan, VAPGA past president, provided clear and firm support for this partnership with her words and actions. Bergquist’s Trent Johnson, VAPGA safety and training chair, provided the technical guidance throughout the process of adding Certified Employee Training Program (CETP) materials to the training and equipping the lab with propane appliances. VAPGA members who already have full-time jobs devoted many volunteer hours to move this first stage of the partnership to completion.
  2. Committed partners: ABC’s management was supportive because of the trust and shared goals developed through their relationship with VAPGA’s leadership. Darryl “Big Mac” McDonald, ABC’s plumbing instructor, brought enthusiasm and vision about expanding his curriculum and lab to include propane instruction.
  3. Good planning: The project to introduce CETP curriculum and build the lab required a clear path that included deadlines and funding.
  4. Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) resources: PERC’s $10,000 technical training partnership grant provided the appliances required for the lab and sent a strong message of propane’s commitment to the partnership.
  5. Persistence and patience: The path when trying something with new partners is never clear and will have challenges. This two-year development effort required the sustained commitment of both the VAPGA volunteers and ABC staff to stay focused on the end goal.

Results justify the effort

  1. ABC’s member plumbers, HVAC and gas-fitter professionals are being properly trained about propane. This should lead to more safe installations in compliance with code and trade professionals who will be more confident to speak about the benefits of propane.
  2. VAPGA member companies will now have access to a well-equipped, hands-on training facility at an affordable cost.
  3. VAPGA member marketers will have access to a list of qualified plumbers, HVAC professionals and gas fitters who could be reliable subcontractors.

“We can achieve greater industry benefits through partnerships,” says Johnson. “I especially enjoyed seeing those who work on propane systems eager to learn more about propane.”

McDonald sees the propane partnership important to fulfilling his vision: “I want to create the learning environment so that my students can thrive and prosper. Adding propane to my curriculum creates more opportunity for my students.”

The VAPGA plans to expand the ABC partnership to include ABC’s training facilities in Richmond and Hampton Roads, which will provide technical propane training for most of the state.

Partnerships work.

Randy Doyle is a 40-year industry veteran who serves on the NPGA board of directors and is active in the Virginia Propane Gas Association. He is a past PERC councilor. He consults with Holtzman Propane in Mt. Jackson, Virginia.

1 Comment on "Effective partnerships matter"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Timmy R. says:

    Having a good partnership with people in other trades which directly interact with yours definitely makes life that much easier, I couldn’t agree with you more.