LP Gas Hall of Fame profile: Joe and Rosie Buschur

March 19, 2024 By    

The 2024 LP Gas Hall of Fame dinner and induction ceremony will take place April 4 at The Westin Charlotte in downtown Charlotte, North Carolina. This year’s inductees are Joe and Rosie Buschur (McMahan’s Bottle Gas), Randy Doyle (MAPCO/Thermogas), Bruce Swiecicki (National Propane Gas Association) and Mike Walters (Superior Energy Systems). Visit the LP Gas Hall of Fame website.

Joe Buschur

Joe Buschur

They’ve done life together for nearly 50 years. It seems only fitting that they would enter the LP Gas Hall of Fame together as well.

Rosie and Joe Buschur, owners of McMahan’s Bottle Gas in Dayton, Ohio, met through one of Joe’s roommates and married March 1, 1975. Working side by side, they built a propane business, now with two locations and 15 employees, that serves residential and commercial customers throughout the greater Dayton area.

But it is their effort outside their business that has inspired their colleagues’ deep respect as hard-working and dedicated advocates on behalf of the propane industry, and earned them a place in this year’s class of inductees to the Hall of Fame.

“You need to be willing to serve,” Rosie says.

Call to service

That heart for service has its roots in their large Catholic families, where looking out for each other was just part of their identities. Joe grew up on a dairy farm with 11 siblings, including four who still milk 700 cows three times a day. Rosie is from a family of seven girls and one boy.

They entered the propane business through family connections as well. McMahan’s Bottle Gas was part of McMahan’s Mobile Home Park, and Don McMahan was married to a cousin of Joe. Don hired Joe’s older brother Nick to work there in January 1969, and Joe joined him in the summers during high school.

After two years in college to study engineering, Joe seized a chance in 1979 to take over the business operations from Nick. Six years later, he bought the company from Don but retained the name.

Rosie Buschur

Rosie Buschur

Joe did not waste a moment to become involved in the industry. In his first year of taking charge at McMahan’s, Joe joined the Ohio Propane Gas Association and immediately saw the value of membership. He learned a lot, especially about safety and the right way to do things. At his first meeting, Joe was asked to run for one of the board’s director positions and was surprised to discover there was no one to run against him. Thus began a lifelong dedication to service on behalf of the industry.

Putting himself out there wasn’t always easy. At heart, Joe was a farm boy who grew up several miles outside North Star, a village in Darke County that, in 2020, boasted a population of 224.

“I was way better at talking to cows than I was to people when we first moved to Dayton,” he admits.

Eventually Joe served as the Ohio association’s president in 1998-99. Rosie, who had begun working in the business in the late 1980s, assisted Joe in his duties as president.

“I don’t understand how anybody could be in the propane business and not be active, at least in the state, if not the national [associations],” Joe says. “There’s too many rules and regulations that you can’t just ignore. The more involved I got, the more I learned.”

Those meetings led to summer conventions with little children in tow.

“It was like a summer vacation get-together,” Rosie says.

Eventually, the children grew and took on work responsibilities and leadership positions within the company. Today, two sons work at the family business, along with a nephew who’s been a longtime employee. A brother-in-law – who set up his siblings on blind dates that led to five marriages between the families, including Joe and Rosie’s – has spent his career there.

Rosie saw an opportunity to better organize Ohio’s representation at Propane Days. (Photo courtesy of Joe and Rosie Buschur)

Rosie saw an opportunity to better organize Ohio’s representation at Propane Days. (Photo courtesy of Joe and Rosie Buschur)

Leadership and advocacy

As the Buschurs expanded their network, the friendships they made within the industry made the work fulfilling and fun.

“When he became Ohio’s president, that’s when we started traveling around the state,” Rosie explains.

They spoke frequently with state representatives to advocate for legislation that would help propane marketers like them.

“You find that the more you get involved, the more you know about the issues,” she says. “It’s really interesting.”

To bolster his knowledge as Ohio’s president, Joe started attending the Midwest Propane Gas Convention board of directors meetings, then stayed involved after his presidency to help Ohio’s association. He became vice chairman and then chairman, and Rosie assisted with such jobs as running the silent auction at their conventions.

That experience led him to become Ohio’s state director to the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA), which Joe calls one of the more satisfying and fulfilling roles he has performed. He was selected – an unprecedented two times – as NPGA’s State Director of the Year.

Joe and Rosie traveled together for 16 years to the board meetings, where Rosie attended scholarship committee meetings with many of the other spouses, eventually serving as vice chair and then three times as chair of the scholarship committee.

Rosie saw an opportunity to better organize Ohio’s representation at NPGA’s Propane Days, so she took on the responsibility of setting up meetings with elected officials and their staff.

“We are proud of the fact that, under our leadership, Ohio has been well represented at Propane Days and that we have developed strong relationships with most of our elected officials,” she says. “What we enjoy most about NPGA’s Propane Days is that we feel like we have made a difference.”

While the national political climate can seem intimidating to marketers whose businesses serve rural communities, Joe and Rosie quickly learned the value of overcoming those fears. After all, elected officials are just people, and they need to be educated about the issues affecting their constituents.

“I think Washington, D.C., has a bad reputation with all those politicians,” Joe says. “They’ll talk to you and listen to you.”

Getting the ear of representatives and their staff is especially important today as the “electrify everything” movement threatens the viability of the propane industry. While Joe says he’s sympathetic to the desire for environmental protections, he sees propane as a significant tool to accomplish that goal, and he’s frustrated that some legislators don’t agree.

“Propane is a big part of cutting emissions and making it a cleaner planet,” he says. “We’ve got to use everything we can do to help cut emissions. And they’re not doing that. They’re force-feeding what they think is right.”

That’s what makes NPGA’s work on Capitol Hill so critical, Rosie says, to help senators and representatives understand that propane can help accomplish their common goal.

“Even though we are a small company, we feel it is our duty and responsibility to be involved and help the NPGA leaders in their efforts to help us,” she says. “Through our years of involvement, we have met so many wonderful people in this industry and have made lasting friendships.”

Married since 1975, Joe and Rosie Buschur have dedicated much of their time to the propane industry. (Photo courtesy of Joe and Rosie Buschur)

Married since 1975, Joe and Rosie Buschur have dedicated much of their time to the propane industry. (Photo courtesy of Joe and Rosie Buschur)

Leaving a legacy

But at 72 and 69, Joe and Rosie are beginning to turn over the reins to a new generation.

After decades of working Saturdays and not taking vacations, they’re especially fond of big family trips with five children, 11 grandchildren and assorted nieces and nephews. Their favorite mode is cruising, and they enjoy the opportunities to take small-town “kids” who’ve never flown or seen a big cruise ship to the Caribbean or Alaska.

Now that two sons in the family business each manage a location, Joe and Rosie plan to retire later this year. They’ll fill in occasionally so their sons can take their turns attending conventions and building their own networks.

The Buschurs say they were surprised, shocked and humbled by their induction into the Hall of Fame.

“Through the years, we have gained so much respect and appreciation for the time, money, hard work and dedication of so many really nice people,” they say. “That made it easy for us to get involved and stay involved.”

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