LPG Spotlight: FS Propane

August 21, 2019 By    

Continued education is critical for a successful propane marketer.

Photo courtesy of FS Propane

Photo courtesy of FS Propane

For FS Propane – the propane arm of the agricultural cooperative Growmark – the new source of education comes from its Summer Showcase.

“It was our first-ever system-wide propane-only conference,” says Zach Baugher, marketing and technical services manager for Growmark. “Anyone who is involved with FS Propane was invited, and most attended.”

General managers, bobtail drivers, service technicians and everyone in between made up the more than 400 attendees at June’s inaugural event in Iowa. The reason behind the inclusive event was twofold.

“First, we always want to further our education,” Baugher says. “Whether it be updates on the industry or the things we are working on. We want to learn how to better serve our end users.”

The second reason: recognition.

Baugher is a veteran of FS Propane, serving as a bobtail driver for nine years before assuming his marketing role with Growmark in January 2017. He understands the work that goes into a successful propane operation.

“For me, being one of those guys that was in a truck, I felt the need to thank and recognize the employees,” Baugher says. “To have everyone that is a part of the FS Propane system together doesn’t happen very often. It takes a lot of hours and a lot of work from these guys, so this was a great time to get together, network and thank them.”

Networking is a crucial component of the event. Having employees from southern Illinois talk with members of the FS Propane system in northeast Iowa is valuable to the operation, Baugher says.

A 19-vendor trade show kicked off the two-day event, providing attendees time with equipment manufacturers and service providers. General session presentations from Harry Cooney, the manager of energy customer risk management at Growmark; Michael Caldarera, senior vice president of regulatory and technical services for the National Propane Gas Association; and Cinch Munson, senior vice president of business development at the Propane Education & Research Council, educated attendees on the current state of the company and propane industry.

Alliance AutoGas performed a live autogas conversion of a Ford F-350 service truck, sparking more interest in autogas.

Rounding out the experience were three breakout sessions led by propane industry experts covering topics on marketing, service and technical work.

To pack that much diverse and thoughtful content into a 24-hour window was a project one year in the making, Baugher says.

“We got tons of great feedback from the attendees,” he says. “That’s what we are going for every time.”

The next Summer Showcase won’t take place for another three to four years, Baugher believes. Having fresh content will be key at the next event, so attendees can leave with something beneficial.

“I want to have something new each time, so we keep it special,” Baugher says. “I want to make sure every aspect of our industry is covered. That way, the general manager, the bobtail driver, the service tech and the marketing manager can each learn something new.”

FS Propane

Year founded // 1927

Headquarters // Bloomington, Illinois

Owner // Agricultural cooperative

Annual gallons // 282 million

Website // fssystem.com

Did you know? // FS Propane is part of the Growmark system, the fourth-largest propane retailer in the country, according to the 2019 LP Gas Top Retailers rankings.

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About the Author:

Joe McCarthy was an associate editor at LP Gas Magazine.

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