Northeast Propane Show returns, thrives in rural Massachusetts

September 20, 2012 By    

When Joe Rose took over as president of the Propane Gas Association of New England five years ago, he heard calls for a trade show in the Northeast.

The National Propane Gas Association had a 14-year show presence in the region until low attendance contributed to that event’s demise in 2002.

Rose answered those calls in 2010 and launched the Northeast Propane Show, which concluded its second event last month in rural Boxborough, Mass.

The numbers revealed another successful event, which drew 1,071 total attendees (down from 1,079 in 2010), including exhibitors, and 129 exhibiting companies (up from 116 in 2010). There were also 18 free educational seminars.

“I tried to figure out how to do it and make it free for attendees,” Rose says. “My feeling was propane people are rural people; they don’t want to go to the city.

“I knew about this hotel [the Holiday Inn]. I knew it had plenty of exhibit space and parking,” he adds. “The fact we can sell this place out during the week in August they offered me an opportunity to have the space at a great price.”

The show filled two rooms inside the hotel and spilled into the parking lot, where 25 trucks and four transports were on display. Live demonstrations of leak mitigation techniques also drew a crowd.

Rose says attendees came from all over New England, as well as from New York, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Exhibitors came from as far away as the West Coast.

Financial proceeds from the show allow the association to maintain membership dues, says Rose, whose next Northeast Propane Show is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 6-7, 2014.

Two weeks after the Northeast Propane Show, we were among more than 200 people at the Bergquist Open House in Toledo, Ohio (a second was held in Bowling Green, Ky.). This was about two months after Ray Murray Inc. hosted its open house for about 900 attendees in Lee, Mass. These events provide a nice follow-up to the traditional Southeast-Midwest-Western show lineup in April and May.

Program termination

Propane Challenge, a once-promising industry program designed to develop new propane technologies and take them to market, will be terminated, the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) announced in July.

Propane Challenge was an outreach program created for the purpose of having anyone outside the industry, including researchers, universities and laboratories, submit technology-based ideas to PERC that would lead to gallon growth for the industry.

The program, launched last year, didn’t last for two main reasons: Its timing clashed with PERC’s recent effort to reorganize into a more efficient group, and it didn’t net enough breakthrough ideas to produce significant, new near-term gallons.

“Rather than have a separate Propane Challenge group looking at projects or ideas, we’re going to have our research and technology working group take over those project reviews,” PERC President and CEO Roy Willis says.

Propane Challenge exceeded goals for contacts, submissions and proposals while expanding the awareness of PERC among manufacturers, startup firms, professional societies, universities and government labs, the council notes. The program made 310 contacts and received 108 idea submissions, with 16 of those ideas worthy of further consideration from the council.

“Propane Challenge was successful in the sense it introduced PERC to this community of researchers and product development companies and labs,” Willis says.

PERC approved $2.5 million last year for principal contractors Nexight Group and Bader Rutter to help develop the program. About $1 million went unspent and will be redirected for future projects, Willis says.

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik was a senior editor at LP Gas Magazine.

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