LP Gas Hall of Fame profile: Nancy Coop

April 8, 2022 By    

The 2022 LP Gas Hall of Fame dinner and induction ceremony will take place April 23 at the Omni Nashville Hotel in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. Inductees are Richard Barker (Silgas), Nancy Coop (Cetane Associates), Joe Rose (Propane Gas Association of New England) and Doug Auxier (Auxier Gas). Get more information here.

Headshot: Nancy Coop, Cetane Associates


None of this was Nancy Coop’s idea.

Not becoming part of the propane industry. Not building bobtails. Not owning a propane business. And certainly not helping start a pivotal organization representing women within the industry that would earn her a place in its history.

And yet, with each step, Coop has embraced life’s twists and turns with genuine interest, grace and a commitment to excellence that forged a path for others to follow.

That drive to succeed has not only carved a niche for herself in a traditionally male-dominated field but paved the way for other women looking for their place within its leadership channels.

Coop, director of marketing at Cetane Associates, had no intention of joining the propane industry. The daughter of Edward Peters “Casey” Jarvis Jr. watched with a child’s interest when her father started Jarco in 1959 to manufacture propane bobtail trucks. She and her younger brothers had worked a few summers for their father. But when Coop, the oldest of four children, went off to Southern California’s Occidental College, she studied art history before trying a variety of jobs, from working for an art museum to stints in graphics and publishing.

“At one point, I used to teach fitness classes, I used to teach dancing,” she says. “I have had a lot of different things along the way – none of which led to being in the propane industry.”

Over the years, her dad had asked her to join his thriving business, but the time never seemed right. Until one day in 2005, Coop’s husband, Tuck, and his friend went out for a beer and came home having sketched out a business plan to buy Jarco, with Coop at its helm. Jarvis put Coop behind the wheel of a bobtail manufacturing company to learn the industry where the rubber literally meets the road.

“I never planned to be a trucker,” she says. “Not once.”

Running the southern Illinois business from her home in Northern California proved challenging. There was a lot to learn about propane. But members of the industry held Jarvis in high esteem, and they extended that respect to his daughter while she learned the ropes.

“They knew I didn’t know about trucks. That was very clear. Instantaneously they knew,” she says with a laugh. “But they gave me a chance to learn and allowed me to grow into the role of representing Jarco in that way.”

Coop continued her father’s well-engineered truck designs and expanded the business by adding a sales force. Within five years, the thriving business attracted a buyer, and it was acquired in 2010 by Polar Service Centers.

Photo courtesy of Nancy Coop

Coop, pictured with the Jarco team, purchased her father’s business in 2005. (Photo courtesy of Nancy Coop)

Leading the way

Coop went on to business development roles within Ferrellgas and Cetane Associates, where she has worked with owners through the selling process to ensure their interests are protected. Having been there herself, she finds this role extremely satisfying.

But it was her work on behalf of the industry that has earned her colleagues’ appreciation and a spot within the LP Gas Hall of Fame alongside her father, who was inducted in 2014.

Photo courtesy of Nancy Coop

Coop with her Women in Propane Council colleagues. (Photo courtesy of Nancy Coop)

Soon after joining Jarco, Coop attended the Pinnacle educational conference and was startled by the dearth of women, especially in leadership positions. Even at her own company, she was one of two women on staff, the other being a bookkeeper.

Recognizing this disparity, men within the industry almost immediately started asking Coop to become involved on committees within the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA). She demurred, seeking first to understand her business before launching into wider orbits.

Eventually she decided to join the NPGA Conventions Committee, and it was there, in 2009, that the suggestion was made to add an organization to support women within propane.

As the only woman on that committee, Coop joined the discussion around what that might look like. Ideas ranged from yoga classes to leadership training. Eventually Women in Propane was founded in 2012 as a self-sustaining business council within NPGA, and Coop was asked to lead it. She was gratified by the support it received from the industry. Jill Hopkins, the secretary/treasurer and CFO at Sheldon Gas Co. in Northern California, and Jane Stroupe, an area director with AmeriGas/Heritage Propane, agreed to help.

Women in Propane was founded with three missions: leadership training, mentoring and networking. Today, the organization has about 500-plus members, and 15 percent of them are men. Those men are both in support roles and beneficiaries of the organization’s training and development opportunities. The women for whom the council exists are particularly pleased, she says.

“I’m excited for our individuals and for our industry that we can support an organization that makes sure we have diversity, that makes sure we are hearing (all) voices,” Coop says. “That, not only that people don’t look the same, but they also have something different to say, and we’re hearing those voices. To me, it’s very exciting.”

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The induction of Coop, right, establishes the LP Gas Hall of Fame’s first family legacy. Her father, Casey Jarvis, middle, is a member of the class of 2014. (Photo courtesy of Nancy Coop)

As its founding chairperson, she is proud to have shaped the industry’s culture on behalf of fellow women, including her two daughters and five granddaughters.

“I have a passion for this,” she says.

But, she adds, it still hasn’t sunk in that she is joining her late father in the LP Gas Hall of Fame.

“I’m both very honored and very humbled by this,” Coop says. “My first reaction, and it is absolutely the one that stays with me, is that I couldn’t be happier for the Women in Propane to be recognized in this way. I’m the one who did a lot of the organizing and nudging it along, but it is the Women in Propane organization that is being honored by this award, in my estimation. I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of it and to be able to work with the people to make sure it continues not only to succeed but to flourish.”

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