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LP Gas Hall of Fame profile: Randy Doyle

March 26, 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.


Randy Doyle

Randy Doyle

Randy Doyle is a numbers guy. But his gift for seeing far beyond facts and figures to predict success and measure impact has strengthened the propane industry and provided countless opportunities for growth.

It all adds up to the reason this accountant and 40-year veteran of the propane industry has been selected for the 2024 class of inductees to the LP Gas Hall of Fame.

An Ohio native, Doyle says he was seeking a little adventure as a 21-year-old “kid” when he took his University of Cincinnati accounting degree farther south to Ashland Oil in Kentucky. That “spirit of adventure” eventually led him to work throughout the U.S., and as far as Lithuania.

After five years with Ashland Oil, Doyle moved “to the ends of the earth” – which turned out to be Tulsa, Oklahoma. There he joined MAPCO/Thermogas in 1981 as an internal audit manager. He planted roots, married and raised his family there.

“That’s where I grew up in the propane business,” Doyle says.

In his work with Thermogas – then the country’s fourth-largest propane marketer – he visited propane operations in places like Lake Village, Arkansas, and Iowa’s Corn Belt. He found he enjoyed working with propane businesses in rural communities because of what he described as the high quality of the people he met.

“I liked that it [propane] was in the energy picture, but it was a very, very niche piece of the energy picture,” Doyle says. “It satisfies a very distinct need in our economy. I liked that even though it was big, it was small. You take the petroleum industry, and it’s just massive. I liked that the propane industry was much smaller. You could get to know people.”

Doyle took the lead in forming the industry’s first national benchmarking council. (Photo courtesy of Randy Doyle)

Doyle took the lead in forming the industry’s first national benchmarking council. (Photo courtesy of Randy Doyle)

Benchmarking beginnings

The propane industry also afforded Doyle opportunities to stretch beyond ledgers and balance sheets.

“I liked that the propane business is complex. It has elements of logistics and the energy commodity markets,” he says. “It has information technology. It has marketing. It has a lot of different elements of business that make the business very challenging, very interesting to be part of.”

Twelve years into his work with MAPCO/Thermogas, Doyle was frustrated in his search for industry performance data. He wanted to know how the company’s performance stacked up against other companies. He knew this data existed within other energy industries that MAPCO was part of, but when it came to retail propane, there wasn’t anything.

His observation to Doug Rinke, then president of Thermogas, about this absent resource led them to contact Dan Myers, then CEO of the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA). A January 1995 meeting in Chicago with Myers and five other leaders ended with Doyle offering to take the lead in forming the NPGA Benchmarking Council.

Once they recruited 18 marketers to take part, they held the first meeting in October 1996.

The council allows marketers to compare notes on everything from employment practices to dispatching costs to effective software vendors. By grouping noncompeting companies, members can share experiences and lessons learned without compromising their competitive advantage.

“It’s the perfect solution for independent marketers who do not have others to look to for advice,” Doyle says.

Before the COVID pandemic, the council had grown to about 165 members. Although membership has dipped, it remains a vital way for companies to ask questions and improve their practices.

Doyle developed a workbook that framed the questions members could ask. A code of conduct emphasizes confidentiality, enforces antitrust laws and encourages the mutual sharing of information. For 20 years, he facilitated a group within the council and donated eight years’ worth of facilitator fees to establish the Benchmarking Council Scholarship Fund.

“The Benchmarking Council was developed with the idea that the best place to learn is from your noncompeting peers,” Doyle explains. “In totally different markets, all the businesses have similar kinds of challenges.”

After MAPCO/Thermogas was sold in 1998, Doyle spent the next five years using his petroleum background with Lithuania’s state-owned oil company. When he returned stateside, he followed his passion for propane.

An Ohio native, Doyle met his wife, Denise, in Oklahoma. (Photo courtesy of Randy Doyle)

An Ohio native, Doyle met his wife, Denise, in Oklahoma. (Photo courtesy of Randy Doyle)

Real talk

Similar to how he sought performance data while at MAPCO/Thermogas, Doyle held a constant curiosity about the propane industry’s performance and growth prospects. He discovered an outlet to convey his opinions and observations.

In 2003, he started writing columns for LP Gas, which he continued for about 20 years. In its last several years, the column was titled “Real Talk With Randy.”

“I felt like I was a straight shooter,” he says, adding that he relied on his wife, Denise, as a sounding board to make sure he was fair and balanced. “I wanted to say things honestly.”

Doyle made it a habit to engage industry members in conversation, to learn what issues were top of mind.

“I’d hear what people had to say, see what was going on in the big picture and look at what the numbers were doing,” he says.

He’d integrate that with what he knew the NPGA was doing to drive policy, and the resources and products the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) could offer. That translated into columns with high readership that also benefited him personally.

“The reason I wrote the column was for myself, because it kept me astute to the trends and what people are saying and having a vigilant eye for what’s going on in the propane industry,” he says.

In 2007, Doyle joined Blossman Gas in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, as CFO. Eight years later, he joined PERC, serving three of his six years as treasurer on the executive committee.

He calls PERC “the greatest treasure that the previous generation has given the propane industry.”

Doyle retired from Blossman Gas in 2018 and now consults with Holtzman Propane. (Photo courtesy of Randy Doyle)

Doyle retired from Blossman Gas in 2018 and now consults with Holtzman Propane. (Photo courtesy of Randy Doyle)

Not finished

Upon his 2018 retirement from Blossman Gas at 66, Doyle and his wife planned to settle again in Oklahoma, but Todd Holtzman of Holtzman Propane recruited him to join the Virginia company as a consultant. Today the Doyles are living their semi-retired life in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.

“Moving to rural Virginia was the last thing on my mind,” Doyle says.

But this part of his adventure has allowed him to continue to make a difference in the industry. It also has allowed him the flexibility to travel to see his two children and three grandchildren, become involved in community service, their church, and to golf, which he played competitively in college.

And, like his work within the industry, he continues to look for ways to make a difference. While in Mississippi, he chaired the Blossman Family YMCA and led its $3 million renovation and expansion project that ultimately tripled its membership. Now in Virginia, he led the creation of a community center aimed at solving education and wellness needs and has become chair of the Shenandoah Valley Workforce Development Board.

But he’s far from done with propane.

He has been active in the Virginia Propane Gas Association (VAPGA). In 2021, it honored him with its Safety and Training Award for creating a partnership with the Virginia Associated Builders and Contractors that enables plumbing and gas fitter students to learn propane using PERC resources and the technical expertise of VAPGA members.

A firm believer that the industry’s success lies in residential propane, he has played a lead role in a hydronic heating project created to protect the residential market from the proliferation of electric heat pumps.

At 71, he says he still has a lot of energy and interest in propane.

“While human nature is telling me to slow down, there’s another side saying you’re just getting started,” Doyle says. “I’m not finished.”

While he’s proud of the work he’s done on behalf of the industry and sees the value it has added, he’s humbled by this induction into the Hall of Fame.

“You never know what people think of you, particularly your peers,” Doyle says. “To be able to be inducted, well, it’s an honor.”

When he retired from the Benchmarking Council, his colleagues presented him with an award inscribed with the words “founder, facilitator and friend.”

“I know I took some unpopular positions on things, and all of that is not easy,” he says. “But as I look back, I had my heart and soul in what I was doing for the industry the last 30 years. I feel like I made my mark.”

This article is tagged with and posted in Current Issue, Featured, From the Magazine, Hall of Fame

About the Author:

Danielle Pesta is the senior digital media manager for North Coast Media, the parent company of LP Gas. She can be reached at dpesta@northcoastmedia.net.

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