Longtime industry leader: Stand up for propane

September 23, 2021 By    

Stuart Weidie bounced around minor league baseball for five years, mainly playing outfielder in the Boston Red Sox organization before injuries ended his professional career.

The 20-year president of Blossman Gas jokes with his wife Ann, saying she wanted to marry a gas man anyway.

Weidie has transferred the enthusiasm that he’s held for America’s pastime to one of America’s premier energy sources – even as the industry is still hard at work sharing with others how propane can help pave the way to a clean energy future.

“There’s reason for enthusiasm and for us to be positive about the future of our industry,” Weidie said in the minutes after taking the gavel from AmeriGas’ Daniel Dixon and becoming the new chairman of the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) at its July meeting in Colorado.

Chair experience

Five years earlier, Weidie had assumed the chairmanship of the National Propane Gas Association. At that time, he focused on identifying growth opportunities, creating a favorable business environment for propane and ensuring reliable supply for the domestic market.

It wasn’t uncommon then and in years prior, Weidie says, for the industry to remain under the radar and cautious about saying too much or promoting itself for fear that regulators would take notice and target propane businesses.

But, he says, “We’re threatened more so today than we were five years ago,” forcing the industry to become more visible and tell its story.

Energy’s relationship to the environment has also gotten more attention since Weidie’s last stint as chairman of a national propane organization, forcing the industry to talk more about the environmental benefits of propane.

“There’s a rising consciousness – and I think it’s a good one – that we need to be more environmentally sensitive in how we use energy in this country,” he says. “Propane is a great energy source, and I don’t think we should ever apologize for it.”

An LP Gas Hall of Famer, Weidie has always been an outspoken supporter of the industry. But with propane under attack from misinformation and ongoing threats to local codes and regulations that nullify a consumer’s energy choice, his messages now seem to come across with a greater sense of urgency.

Weidie says it’s important for industry volunteers to share their perspectives and initiate discussion.

“I’ve felt at times I needed to take a position to challenge the industry … to generate discussion because healthy discussion moves us forward on setting the proper agendas and establishing the priorities,” he says.

Environmental message

Weidie’s ability to generate discussion proved valuable on a joint industry task force established to explore an environmental message for propane.

Its findings served as a foundation for what would become the industry’s unified environmental messaging plan.

“We’re repositioning our energy source in the U.S.,” Weidie says.

That repositioning involves a new brand identity for propane, which PERC unveiled in July.

“Propane has such a big story to tell,” says Aaron Dotson, executive creative director at Elevation, the architect of the new brand campaign built on the message of “Energy for Everyone.”

Propane’s new brand identity needs to tell that story but also invite people into the conversation so the industry can define what it means for audiences, Dotson says.

“The national conversation is changing,” he adds. “We have a lot of folks we need to invite into the conversation with us.”

Joining Weidie as new PERC officers are Casey Cramton of Dead River Co. (vice chairman, marketers); Duncan McGinnis of Aux Sable (vice chairman, producers); Jeff Kerns of ThompsonGas (treasurer); and Gary France of France Propane Service (secretary).

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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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