Ohio Propane Gas Association launches manager training program

October 19, 2023 By    

Attention, managers.

Photo of Josh Greene of Arrick's Propane _ manager training program

Josh Greene, chair of the Ohio Propane Gas Association from Arrick’s Propane, helped to develop a new manager training program. (Photo by LP Gas staff)

A new training course is giving you direction as a leader within your company and sharpening your skills in areas that are critical to running a successful propane operation.

Those who helped develop this manager training course in Ohio say it’s the first of its kind in the industry, and it may serve as a model for such a program at the national level.

When you hear Ohio Propane Gas Association (OPGA) and manager training program leaders talk about why they developed the program, you understand why they felt it was necessary: Many of the skills needed to manage people successfully, especially in today’s workplace, simply weren’t available anywhere else.

“The goal for me with this manager training is to make sure that we’re taking the time to teach people not just the technical aspects of the propane business but how to be good leaders, how to be good managers – some of the soft skills that maybe they haven’t had or hadn’t been trained to do in the past and setting them up for success,” says Josh Greene, the chair of OPGA and operations manager at Arrick’s Propane, which serves customers in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia.

Greene references the process of companies often promoting from within – how a service technician or bobtail driver ascends to a manager position and must wield a completely different set of skills.

“Just because they were good at that other job doesn’t mean they’re going to be a good manager and be successful,” he says.

Brian Buschur of McMahan’s Bottle Gas says the “dynamics of the workforce and the world we live in right now” also led to the creation of the program.

“It came about almost out of necessity,” Buschur adds.

Discussions about such a program and the course curriculum began about a year ago. Greene and Buschur fueled the idea, and Derek Dalling, executive director of the Ohio association, helped get it across the finish line with funding through Ohio Propane Education & Research Council dollars.

Dalling says Greene and Buschur were “champing at the bit” to create such a program that would benefit the next generation of leaders.

“They convinced the rest of the group that these are skill sets they all need,” Dalling adds.

Test runs

OPGA launched the two-day, in-person class in September and planned another for October, with industry veterans Bob Herron and David Lowe serving as the trainers who were “pegged from the outset,” according to Dalling.

The curriculum begins with some technical training from Herron before Lowe addresses management training and those soft skills that mean so much to Greene and Buschur.

“Bob’s portion is objective – it’s numbers; this is the code; this is where you find these things,” Lowe explains. “My part is very subjective.”

Lowe, of Pro Image Communications, describes his training style as “thought provoking without lecturing.” His training includes conflict resolution and other workforce issues, management and social styles, and employee retention, hiring and termination. One segment on the course’s agenda is labeled “Managing your nightmares,” which included pricing issues and contingency planning.

Lowe thought the kickoff session went well, as attendees were shocked to realize their industry peers had experienced similar situations and thankful they could talk through them together.

“It was a very open, very free forum for people to express ideas,” he says. “The longer it went, the more free they became.”

The course was designed primarily for propane retailers, but the OPGA welcomes other types of member companies. It’s free for Ohio companies, with those attending from out of state having to pay a fee.

OPGA is using the first two training sessions to determine the future of the program.

“We’re bringing this all together for a couple of test runs,” Dalling says. “Excitement is building.”

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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