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LPG Spotlight: Berico Fuels

June 21, 2022 By     0 Comments

Berico Fuels cares about investing in employee development.

The propane retailer, formerly known as Alamance Oil, is in its fourth generation of family ownership and has three locations across North Carolina. In recent years, Berico partnered with the North Carolina Technical Education Center (NC-TEC), a training and education center designed to address workforce development issues facing propane retailers.

Will Berry co-owns Berico Fuels. Photo courtesy of Lenny Hall

Will Berry co-owns Berico Fuels. (Photo courtesy of Lenny Hall)

Berico became involved with NC-TEC, long before its April 2021 opening, when the company donated the equipment and manpower required to set up one of the facility’s classrooms, says Lenny Hall, vice president of propane operations at Berico.

Hall says NC-TEC is one of the first resources he’s found that truly addresses the workforce-related issues unique to the propane industry.

“In the propane business, you can’t be 18, 19, 20 years old,” Hall says. “You really have to be 21 so that you get your CDL. So when NC-TEC came into play and we looked at being able to train people to have CDLs, as well as being CETP-trained, [and] the possibility of having retired vets come out that were looking for employment, it’s just a perfect match.”

In fact, Berico recently enrolled a former HVAC employee through NC-TEC’s program to become a service technician for the company’s propane business.

Lenny Hall

Hall

“He was mechanically inclined but really knew nothing about propane,” says Hall. “He knew how to install a furnace, but as far as pressures of propane, working on lines, sizing lines, he didn’t know any of it. He’s only been back a short time, but I’ve had him working with some of the other techs, and he knows the books. He knows the business. He’s got his pressure testing. He’s doing everything the way he’s supposed to do it, so it’s a great addition.”

The employee graduated in eight weeks with all of his CETP certifications. Outside of NC-TEC, it’s possible those certifications could take years to complete, Hall explains.

“We have somebody who has good background training that we can put in and start working immediately,” he says.

According to Hall, the prospect of greater work-life balance contributed to the employee’s decision to switch to the propane industry, and marketing that to prospective employees may help to attract high-quality workers.

“It’s always nice making money, but it’s really no good if you don’t have time to spend it or get to enjoy spending it with your family, when your spouse and your kids are doing things without you because you’re either working or too tired to enjoy it,” Hall says. “That’s one of the things that our industry allows. It’s a great career that you have advancement opportunities with, but it also gives you that home-life balance that we all want.”

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