A simple measurement

May 1, 2002 By    

Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis rode one simple credo all the way to his enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Just win, baby.

The propane industry has its own version of Al Davis simplicity to gauge success in the competitive domestic fuel market: Just move the needle, boys.

Industry leaders can spend millions of dollars and years of hard work convening meetings, printing newsletters, holding trade shows, building web sites and distributing brochures to help propane retailers grow their businesses. In the end, however, it means nothing if the total gallons sold at the end of the year doesn’t increase.

Nowhere is that bottom line more prevalent for the propane industry than the exasperating motor fuel market. Counting on-road and off-road engines, this market represents 17 percent of the total U.S. propane demand.

Globally, propane consumption as engine fuel is increasing 20 percent annually, representing one of the true remaining growth opportunities for our industry. Domestically, this non-seasonal market segment has been frustratingly stagnant for generations.

Why? Inadequate funding, organization and/or focus.

Some industry leaders have a plan to change that. The Propane Vehicle Council’s executive committee is reviewing a new business plan designed to finally get the motor fuel market moving. The plan calls for the PVC to remain a “business council” of the NPGA, but seeks to empower the group to operate as a solely independent organization with complete authority over its development, direction, strategy, projects and all other functions related to its success.

The proposal to overhaul the organization’s structure, staff, funding and priorities comes smack in the middle of other dramatic changes for the industry: The NPGA is rebuilding itself in Washington to better focus on legislative challenges, while the Propane Education & Research Council inherits many of the market development, education and safety training duties traditionally fulfilled by the association.

All three organizations must find new ways to work together to tap the enormous potential of a market segment that can flatten negative seasonal demand spikes as well as add immense gallons to the total load.

A revamped PVC has lots of opportunity to fill the void as an authoratative voice of the propane motor fuel industry. That voice is desperately needed to educate and communicate to beauracrats, regulators, industry stakeholders and others served by the motor fuel market.

In the end, it will be judged simply on how far it moved the needle.

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