My day as a propane deliveryman

December 20, 2018 By    

It was a cold Wednesday morning in north central Ohio when I made my way to the Wellington location of Linden’s Propane, an Energy Distribution Partners company.

Ohio-based Linden's Propane. Photo by Joe McCarthy

Ohio-based Linden’s Propane. Photo by Joe McCarthy

At 7:15 a.m., there wasn’t much traffic on the rural roads around the Linden’s Propane service area, but the facility was bright and bustling as employees prepared for a long day of supplying propane to customers looking to heat their homes and power appliances.

For a year and a half, I have served LP Gas as associate editor, writing about the propane industry and its people. On this cold December morning, I joined Eric Linden, an industry veteran and deliveryman for Linden’s Propane, to see what a day in the life of a propane deliveryman was really like.

Through this immersive experience, I saw first-hand the thankless work propane operations all over the country do on a daily basis. The delivery of propane may seem as easy as hooking a hose to a tank, but I realized there was much more behind this important process of providing fuel to homes.

Linden took me on the first 12 of his 24 deliveries for the day, starting at the company’s bulk tank to fill the bobtail before heading out. I learned why spray filling is more efficient and why returning propane vapor to the bulk tank is common practice. While on the road, Linden showed me how the tablet and ticket printer inside the bobtail remove the need to handwrite tickets, making his day-to-day work easier. He described the process of checking a residential tank’s level before filling, and detailed what happens when the ACME pipe is engaged with the tank during filling.

Linden also described his family’s connection to the propane industry. He told me he was in a bobtail helping to deliver propane before he could even drive and about working with his father and brothers in the yard growing up. We also talked about the physical toll it takes on a body doing this work day in and day out and how working with customers can be both fulfilling and challenging at times.

To many LP Gas readers, what I have described is nothing new; this is your typical day in the life at your operation. But to me, this was an eye-opening experience to what it is like to work in the propane industry.

My biggest takeaway from the day: Working in propane is a thankless job, but the people in the industry love what they do.

Before my time with Linden, my knowledge of a propane operation scratched the surface. I knew about working in harsh winter conditions, about pulling a hose from a bobtail through backyards and filling a residential tank. But until I actually got in and out of a bobtail in 30-degree weather, joined Linden in pulling the heavy hose several dozen yards around porches and bushes, and inspected the tank before hooking up a hose, I never truly understood the tough, blue-collar work of the propane industry.

While I went through these activities with Linden, I never noticed a smile leave his face. When I would ask questions about working in the industry, his face would glow while he answered the question with a story that often involved his family.

Listening to Linden’s stories shed light on the “propane people” who make up this industry. The selfless people I have heard about from industry events; the people who fight harsh weather to deliver fuel so customers can have a warm home; the people who value customer service over the bottom line; and the people who work to help fuel America.

My appreciation for the industry was already high, but is now validated. Now when I see a bobtail on the road or a propane tank in a yard, or I write about a propane operation, I’ll know and understand all of the day-to-day difficult work involved to be a member of the propane industry.

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About the Author:

Joe McCarthy was an associate editor at LP Gas Magazine.

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