Observations reveal propane industry in transition

May 11, 2023 By    

Much like May’s annual running of the Kentucky Derby, the propane industry’s convention season has begun its 2023 sprint, with members focused on national, regional and state gatherings across the country.

By the time you pick up this copy of LP Gas, we’ll have made our way to the Western Propane Trade Show & Convention in Palm Springs, California, where Colin Sueyres, the first-year president and CEO of the Western Propane Gas Association, co-hosts his first propane convention in a region full of industry-impacting activity.

The Western show comes only several weeks after the propane industry’s largest event, the National Propane Gas Association’s Southeastern Convention & International Propane Expo, hosted about 3,800 total attendees in Nashville, Tennessee. We also look forward to the Propane Days national lobbying event in June and, after a three-year absence, a return to in-person meetings on Capitol Hill.

Your travels and ours result in experiences that we can use to better ourselves and strengthen our roles in the propane industry. 

Here are five observations from our time in Nashville:

⦁ Educational sessions and discussions on renewable propane, electrification and the fight for our future? A full audience at an International DME Association briefing? Companies like Netherlands-based Dimeta, a producer of renewable dimethyl ether, exhibiting at a U.S. propane trade show? You never would have imagined these occurrences at conventions even five years ago. But they were evident this year in Nashville, and renewable propane is on the schedule at the Western show, May’s North Central Propane Convention & Trade Show in Wisconsin and certainly many more events in the months ahead. Renewable propane is becoming a common – and necessary – discussion for the industry.

⦁ As Stuart Weidie of Blossman Gas nears the end of his Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) chairmanship, he continues to remind industry members that there’s no need to apologize for their work. “Our energy source is clean, it’s affordable, it’s available,” he says. It’s a message he’s shared often as his tenure has coincided with seemingly louder calls against fossil fuel usage and the goals of PERC’s own work. At the same time, the council recognizes a need to develop more specific strategies and define objectives around renewable propane production.

⦁ One year after we featured a host of longtime state association executives on their way to retirement in 2022, another well-known state leader is headed there as well. Dan Binning, who leads the Colorado and New Mexico associations, plans to step down at the end of this year. A friendly face, Binning is often present at national events across the country, always seeking ways to help his members. We had a chance to visit with Binning in Nashville.

⦁ The state propane association executives are some of the most visible and outspoken leaders in our industry. Heard in Nashville: John Jessup of the Southeast Propane Alliance questioning why a lightly attended cybersecurity session wasn’t filled with more leaders looking to protect their businesses from such a growing danger. And Leslie Anderson of the Propane Gas Association of New England emphasizing during a state panel the importance of association participation, even expressing a need for marketer members active in acquisitions to enlist a participant for every company they acquire.

⦁ You can’t underestimate the industry’s appreciation for its history. Our staff is still buzzing from April’s LP Gas Hall of Fame induction dinner. The ceremony honoring the Class of 2023 drew about 190 attendees, marking the second straight year that nearly 200 came together on the eve of the Propane Expo to honor the industry’s pioneers, icons and leaders.

There is no shortage of stories in today’s industry. Our editors are busy preparing reports from the conversations we’ve enjoyed with industry members. We look forward to sharing them with you in the months ahead.

About the Author:

Brian Richesson is the editor in chief of LP Gas Magazine. Contact him at brichesson@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3748.

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