How safety plays a role in profitable growth

September 17, 2012 By    

Sustainability is a big buzzword in the propane industry these days.

But what exactly does sustainability mean? According to Webster’s Dictionary, sustainability is the ability to provide with nourishment, to keep going and to hold up.

Today, however, broader context is taken to relate sustainability to business goals and objectives. Being a good steward of the environment has become politically correct and can be financially rewarding.

For some companies, this means goals such as:

■ To be supplied 100 percent by renewable energy

■ To create zero waste

■ To sell products that sustain people and the environment

The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) has been developing a number of programs designed to meet the needs of those industries where sustainability is a goal and a value.

I highly recommend you attend one of the new PERC mower sales training programs designed to improve propane sales through consultative need selling skill development. It is a great way to sustain your profits.

On that note, I’d like to suggest that safety compliance is the only way I know for you to sustain and grow profits. Many leaders of large and small propane companies would appear to disagree via their head-in-the-sand approach to safety. To these folks, it is a law of numbers rather than an act of sustaining customers, employees and the image of the propane industry.

In my opinion, safety must be a forethought rather than an afterthought. True leaders of this industry understand that sustainable safety is the only way to achieve profitable growth.


Sustainable safety must be accountable.

Most of us don’t like setting goals and keeping score. I believe it is because we don’t want to admit to a setback or face failure. Sure it is rewarding to achieve a goal and cross it off a list, but more often than not we rarely succeed the first time. And then we tend to quit. We cannot afford to have quitters when it comes to propane safety.

Safety is a huge concern of consumers when it comes to propane. Offer them a sustainable, lower maintenance, cost-efficient process like propane mowers or fleet conversion to propane, and their first question is: Is it safe?

Actually propane is safer and more ecologically friendly than gasoline. Some say that a consumer being struck by an airplane falling from the sky is more likely than having an accident with propane.

Not sure if that’s true, but it suggests that, due to the standards of product design, excellent training availability and code compliance requirements, accidents with propane are a rare occurrence. Therefore, safety should be propane’s strongest selling point.

When we ignore the consumer concerns about propane safety, we further the notion that propane is unsafe. I believe we should paint a picture of sustainability, safety compliance and use success stories to illustrate the foundation of our industry’s successful safety culture. One of the best things about propane is that it is safe.

At your next safety meeting, spend a few minutes asking all employees to share why they feel propane is safe. What elements of training, code compliance and leadership development make your company safe?

What safety features have been designed into products, and what company policies are in place to make propane the safe, clean-burning fuel of choice?

Lastly, how do we sustain our efforts? I’m tired of people telling me what is wrong with the world. Let’s make a list of what’s right, good and true.

Best-practice leaders achieve safety sustainability by nurturing employees and encouraging them to lead, follow or get out of the way (go find another industry). They listen to consumer concerns and address them with confidence that propane is the safe, clean-burning fuel of choice.

It’s the safety way.

Jay Johnston ( is an independent insurance agent, safety management consultant and inspirational safety speaker in the propane industry. He is the publisher of The Safety Leader newsletter and author of the book “The Practice of Safety.” You can reach Johnston at or 952-935-5350.

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