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Propane Personality: Gene Giernacky

May 2, 2022 By    
Gene Giernacky

Giernacky

Gene Giernacky

“Rookie,” Smith Propane & Oil

Work Experience

2020-Present
Smith Propane & Oil
⦁ “Rookie”

1982-2017
Outside In School of Experiential Education
⦁ Facilities Manager

1979-82
Agape Builders
⦁ Owner

Background

After a 35-year career in education, Gene Giernacky came out of retirement in 2020 and began his new career in the propane industry at Pennsylvania-based Smith Propane & Oil. Giernacky’s wife had become sick, and he was looking for a job that could provide roughly 15 hours a week. However, he quickly fell in love with the industry and now works upward of 40 hours a week, is working to obtain a CDL and is enjoying his new career at age 72 in a role he dubbed as “rookie.”

Beginning a new career in your 70s

“There are days when my body rebels and says: ‘Hey, dummy. Remember, you’re 72. What are you doing?’ But when I lay my head on the pillow at night, I have no problem, mentally or physically, falling asleep and getting up the next day and starting it all over again. I love what I do. It’s a challenge every day. I love the people I work with, and you can’t get a better situation than that. Meeting new people and getting paid to do it, and working with people to help them out, it doesn’t get any better than that.”

Why do you enjoy the propane industry?

“Hands down, the people. Contrary to what you see on the news, there are good people everywhere. I’ve met some of the greatest people just going out and putting either an underground tank in or a cylinder.

“A simple thing is putting in a 420-[pound] cylinder behind a mobile home because Mom, who is trying to raise two kids, is struggling and having a hard time, and she can’t get anybody to give her a hand. When you go up and see the elation on her face, where she knows she can cook those kids dinner that night, or put them to bed in a warm home, it doesn’t matter if it’s raining. It’s worth it. So the best thing I get out of it is the relationships you build with people.”

Outside In School of Experiential Education

“I assisted with developing a program here in the state of Pennsylvania with nine counties under contract where we would pick up groups of students. It started out [by] picking up groups of students at the different detention centers and taking them on wilderness expeditions.

“We had discovered early on that when you take a young man who’s having all kinds of problems, remove him from the environment that he finds any security in, and put him in an environment where he knows nothing about – whether it’s on the end of a rope dangling off a cliff in West Virginia, rappelling down a 900-ft. ravine, or hiking in the Wind River Range in Wyoming, flatwater canoeing in Quebec or Ontario, Canada, paddling a kayak alongside alligators and crocodiles in the Florida Everglades – you can attain his undivided attention. When you get to the campfire that night, he’s willing to sit down and talk to you. You made an inroad, and you can really deal with some situations then.”

Responsibilities at Smith Propane & Oil

“I was hired to fill school buses. And when that was done, they’d fill out my day with doing some odds and ends around the yard.

“That [progressed] into me doing cylinder prep, doing things for the installers, taking the next-day equipment out, going back and training regulators, just working around the shop there and doing things.

“Then, they started sending me out on some of the more complicated installations. Lately, all I’ve been doing is installation and service calls and going out on responses. But my job entails everything with the exception of driving a bobtail and making deliveries.”

Staying busy

“I don’t want to go to my grave in pristine shape. I want to be able to, when I finally pass from this world, I want to be battered, bruised and used up to know that I’ve done what I’ve been called to do. And so I stay busy.”

This article is tagged with , and posted in Current Issue, Featured, From the Magazine

About the Author:

Carly Bemer (McFadden) is the managing editor at LP Gas magazine. She can be reached at 216-363-3930 or cbemer@northcoastmedia.net.

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