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Propane Personality: Jim Blake

September 19, 2022 By     0 Comments

Jim Blake headshot

Jim Blake
Chairman of the Board, Propane Gas Association of New England;
Regional Manager, Eastern Propane

How have you seen the propane industry evolve during your career?

“I’ve been in the industry for over 40 years. I basically started by scraping and painting cylinders as a young man. We’ve seen it evolve a lot from a standpoint of efficiency and technology.

“Going all the way back, propane has always been seen as a clean alternative. We did a lot of construction back in the late ’70s and ’80s [when propane] was seen as a clean fuel to heat construction.

“I’ve seen that transition in the residential markets to higher-efficiency heating equipment that really provides a better environment for everybody.

“Today, we see renewable propane now coming on board. It’s an evolving technology, but it just continues to show the commitment that the industry has always had to being clean and economical for people.”

The Propane Gas Association of New England (PGANE)

(Photo courtesy of Jim Blake)

Jim Blake converted a 1932 Ford, pictured, to propane autogas, and he ran it on renewable propane when Proctor Gas received its first load this year. (Photo courtesy of Jim Blake)

“As a regional association, we have a very strong membership. Because of our location, we see a lot of changes before they hit the rest of the
country. That gives us a bit of a forefront. With our current president and CEO, Leslie Anderson, we were able to move forward with environmental messaging several years ago. PGANE has been able to be a real leader because we see things changing in New England before the rest of the country gets affected.

“Our education programs here at PGANE are very strong. We do a lot of engagement on the emergency response side. We train fire departments, and we train first responders. We’re trying to educate new people in the business about their responsibility in the industry to work as team members and to be prepared to respond.”

Working at Eastern Propane

“I joined Eastern Propane about 32 years ago. It’s a family-run business, and we’ve been able to grow substantially over the years and still maintain that culture of family involvement and the value to the employees as members of a family. That’s the big thing that differentiates Eastern is that at its core, it’s really all about people. When we have to make a decision, we’ll make the decision over the people before the process. You hear that a lot, but after 32 years, I’m still here. I’m into my third generation of the family in the business.”

Converting a 1932 Ford to propane autogas

“It was built in the spirit of hot rods that people after World War II would build. It has a 1949 Ford flathead engine and a 1939 manual transmission. I thought it would be fun to run it on propane, so I took some old propane carburetion equipment that I ran on a race car back in the ’90s. We adapted it, put it on the flathead and got it out and then ran it on renewable propane up in Vermont when Proctor Gas got the first load of renewable propane in New England.”

Hobbies

“I’m a motorsports enthusiast. At a very early age, I got involved in NHRA drag racing. I race on a regular basis. I build the cars, tune them and drive them, and I do it with my son, my daughter, my son-in-law and my son’s girlfriend. I call it ‘camping with a purpose.’ We have an RV, and we spend a lot of our weekends all together as a family involved in racing. It has really kept us together.”

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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