LP Gas Growth Summit facilitates relationship building

November 5, 2020 By    

The LP Gas Growth Summit was one of myriad propane industry events forced to the sidelines this year amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Meeting photo by LP Gas staff

Each one-on-one meeting at the LP Gas Growth Summit lasts about 20 minutes. Photo by LP Gas staff

Since 2015, the annual Growth Summit has brought together retail propane company decision-makers and propane industry vendor partners for one-on-one meetings and other networking and recreational activities at Reunion Resort, outside Orlando, Florida.

“It’s certainly a disappointment that COVID canceled so many of the fine industry meetings and events across the U.S., especially the LP Gas Growth Summit,” says Tankfarm COO Mark Zimora, who attended the inaugural Growth Summit five years ago as the director of U.S. operations for Energy Distribution Partners.

Zimora would have been on the other side of the table this year with Tankfarm, one of 10 partners lined up to attend the Growth Summit before COVID-19 took hold in March. President Donald Trump had declared a national emergency in response to the global pandemic, and in-person events across industries began to fall by the wayside as organizers transitioned some of them onto virtual platforms. 

LP Gas canceled the 2020 Growth Summit and is planning to hold the event in person next year.

With the formation of propane partnerships serving as the foundation of the Growth Summit, companies that attended in prior years reflected on their experiences and the connections they cemented during the two-and-a-half-day event.

“There are certain [events] that I really will never stop going to, and the Growth Summit is one of them because we’re getting that specific one-on-one time with people and socializing with them to see their needs, and you don’t find that out sometimes,” says Warren Van Wyck, general manager of Propane Management Systems (PMS).

Meeting time

Meeting photo by LP Gas staff

Propane retailer decision-makers have the opportunity to sit down in the comfort of a Reunion Resort suite and visit privately with partners during the LP Gas Growth Summit. Photo by LP Gas staff

The one-on-one meetings are at the heart of the Growth Summit because propane retailer decision-makers have the opportunity to sit down in the comfort of a Reunion Resort suite and visit privately with vendor partners representing a wide range of equipment and service categories. The respective meetings, each lasting 20 minutes, give retailer attendees a look at how partners can help improve their propane operations.

“IPS has been to all of the LP Gas Growth Summits, and they have all been very beneficial to our company,” says Jeff Vandemark, president of Michigan-based Industrial Propane Service (IPS). “We have made new, significant relationships each and every time. One of our favorite parts of the summit is the one-on-one time we get to talk to the decision-makers of different companies. It is a very relaxed atmosphere with a relatively small crowd of vendors and propane retailers.”

Vandemark says the propane industry is based on relationships. New friendships or business relationships formed at the Growth Summit may have future benefits for both retailers and partners, especially in the form of referrals.

“The Summit includes different retailers every year, from large to small, and we get an opportunity to meet all of them,” explains Grant McAllister of ADD Systems. “Every year we leave with new relationships and look forward to returning to make new connections the next year.”

David Dodd of Otodata attended his first Growth Summit in 2019 and noticed the relaxed atmosphere that allowed him to meet and spend time with the propane retailer attendees. He came away with a positive first impression.

“With regard to the summit, I’ll be able to spend a lot more time with them, one on one,” says Dodd, Southern U.S. regional sales representative for the tank monitoring company. “I’ll get to know them; I’ll get to know about their family; I’ll get to know about their company, their employees. We’ll have breakfast together, or we’ll have dinner together; we’ll be able to see, ‘Hey, what kind of issues are you dealing with on a daily basis?’ and see how those issues are being solved by different marketers. I found that extremely helpful to me. It does make me a better vendor partner for our customers going forward if I know what kind of issues they’re having to face. It may be an issue I can help design a product around that will allow them to be a better company.”

Van Wyck of PMS agrees. He’s often seen at the Growth Summit sitting with propane retailers and demonstrating PMS’ software offerings on a large monitor. It’s during this time that Van Wyck learns about retailers’ needs and “what they’re looking for in a system because everybody thinks their system is the best system, but if it’s not what the customers want, it’s not very good,” he says. “I enjoy meeting the customers and seeing what they’re looking for in a system.”

Mixing it up

Golf photo by LP Gas staff

Other networking, educational and recreational activities, such as a golf outing, complement the two days of LP Gas Growth Summit meetings. Photo by LP Gas staff

Other networking, educational and recreational activities complement the two days of Growth Summit meetings. Vendor partners provide overviews of their companies in quick-hitting boardroom presentations to the collective group. In addition, attendees have enjoyed a welcome reception, a speaker and panel presentation during breakfast, a golf outing and a casual barbecue on the final night.

Blue Cow Software says it looks forward to the Growth Summit every year.

“It allows both the retailers and the vendors to conduct business meetings in a laid-back, comfortable environment, but also allows a bevy of networking opportunities outside of our two-day vendor/retailer 20-minute meetings,” says Nick Quaratiello, vice president of the Massachusetts-based company. “Playing golf, attending a networking event poolside and having a great barbecue dinner the final night offers all attendees a great way to accomplish the goals they were looking to achieve by attending this event.”

Propane retailer decision-makers can apply for the 2021 LP Gas Growth Summit.

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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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