Map leads back to Atlanta

May 1, 2008 By    

Glass littered some streets, and police barricades kept traffic from others. In some parts, Atlanta looked like a war zone.

Brian Richesson
Brian Richesson

A tornado that blew through the city on March 14 reportedly packed 135-mph winds, leaving behind destruction and debris. The storm also left doubt about whether the 58th Southeastern Convention & International Propane Expo – the propane industry’s biggest show – would even be held.

After relocating the show to another part of the Georgia World Congress Center, the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) pushed forward as planned March 29-31. And we all saw firsthand, but maybe hadn’t taken seriously, the news we had been hearing: Atlanta was a wounded city.

Yet, by relocating the event to Building C and redrawing the exhibit hall’s floor plan, the show went on.

Second go-around

Allow me a moment to introduce myself and tell my story.

One year ago, I walked these same Atlanta streets as the new senior editor of LP Gas magazine. I had been on the job less than a month before attending the Southeastern show, and editor-in-chief Pat Hyland was left with the tall task of explaining propane to a rookie writer.


Having no background in the industry, I walked the trade show floor in a clouded daze, in awe of the endless aisles of equipment and products. What was I doing here?

I had come from the newspaper industry in Northeast Ohio, working as a sportswriter and covering everything from high schools to minor league baseball. Propane seemed another league away. But the time was right to start anew, meet new people and write stories about something new to me. So here I am.

Coming into focus

My father-in-law once said a new employee must spend one year on the job before truly adjusting to his surroundings. Recent experiences have confirmed that.

Even with plenty to learn, the clouded daze from a year ago has cleared somewhat and the pieces of the puzzle are falling into place. I’ve begun to understand some of the industry’s key issues, which were discussed in Atlanta:

  • The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) continues its search for a lead agency, which will devise a commercialization plan to coincide with the changing market.
  • High propane prices compared to other energy sources continue to jeopardize PERC’s consumer education campaign. This ratio is measured as part of legislation that created PERC.
  • Industry veteran Sam McTier revived the composite cylinder cabinet heater project, which appeared dead after the NPGA board’s February vote in San Diego. McTier organized an international coalition that met for the first time in Atlanta.
  • NPGA continues its grassroots push against a bill that would regulate how propane is stored, Philip Squair, senior vice president for Public and Governmental Affairs, explained. NPGA wants to know which companies have received feedback from the Department of Homeland Security’s Top-Screen survey.

An open door

Pat Hyland and I are beginning a monthly rotation in this column space. As I begin my second year in the industry, I encourage your feedback to specific columns and industry issues and welcome ideas for the future.

Success in the propane industry is measured in numbers – in the volume of propane sold or a new market’s potential load. There is strength in numbers.

So let’s grow this industry and this column together, starting today.

About the Author:

Brian Richesson is the editor in chief of LP Gas Magazine. Contact him at or 216-706-3748.

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