Annual propane show place for personal, professional experiences

May 4, 2012 By    

I always enjoy the Southeastern Convention & International Propane Expo in Atlanta because of the diversity of speakers and topics, the demonstration of new propane products and the opportunity to meet new people in the industry.

While safety is ever present on my mind, I also like to have fun.

On my way from the airport to downtown Atlanta, our shuttle bus made a quick stop, throwing passengers and luggage about. The driver and I were the only ones wearing a seat belt.

The next day I attended the Propane Gas Defense Association meeting. I have had the pleasure of speaking to this group a few times and always find its programs timely and relevant to preventing accidents and defending unfounded allegations. The group meets twice a year. If you as a marketer have interest in joining, contact treasurer Evelyn Hanauer at and ask for an application.

Doug Marcello of Marcello & Kivisto LLC discussed Trucking Defense 2.0 and mentioned the late Herb Brooks, coach of the famous Miracle on Ice gold medal Olympic hockey team, as an example of a leader with driven purpose. Brooks died in a single-car rollover while failing to wear his seat belt.

The fun began Saturday, April 14, with the autogas parade of propane-powered vehicles circling Centennial Olympic Park. The parade was a great demonstration of the successful PERC campaign promoting autogas as the safe, green, clean-burning alternative fuel of today and tomorrow.

On Saturday afternoon, I attended a seminar about legal trends in the propane industry. It included a panel of experts that discussed how best to defend your company in a lawsuit, as well as recommendations regarding how lawsuits and accidents can be avoided.

Later that afternoon, I sat in on a safety and standards program on accident investigation case studies. Speaker Randolph Harris, forensic engineer with Fay Engineering Corp., opened our eyes with stories of propane accidents and his firsthand accounts of determining origin and cause.

The trade show opened Saturday evening, and one of the highlights was the centennial museum as part of the 100-year anniversary. Lots of great pictures and memorabilia were displayed along with educational videos.

One of my clients kindly invited me to the annual convention prayer breakfast, where I met some wonderful folks from Connecticut and California. The speaker, Cathy Lee Phillips, told a dynamic story about the many ways God appears each day through the people we meet. It was a powerful testimony to faith and spirituality.

Later that morning, I attended a popular seminar on secrets for small business success by Mike Shilts of LLC. It highlighted the benefits of participating in the NPGA Benchmarking Council, where safety and best practices are shared and developed.

I also attended a fast-track seminar on best hiring practices for drivers. Tom Mullaney, national risk engineering manager for AMC/Fairmont Insurance Services, summarized key points about recruiting and retaining the best drivers. One of the attendees leaned over to me and whispered, “It’s partly about money – if you are paying peanuts, all you’re going to get is monkeys.”

Later that day, at the LP Gas Magazine booth, I pulled out my guitar, and several NPGA members and employees took turns sharing guitar styles and hot licks. It was just a few minutes each time, but life is too short not to have a little fun.

Lastly, I attended the Young Gassers reception, where I met with young gassers and gassers young at heart – the latter being old guys like me. New members were inducted with the traditional shot of tequila, and we all appreciated the beautiful rooftop overlooking downtown Atlanta.

The 2012 expo was a resounding success founded in friendship, safety and fun. Those in attendance learned a great deal about achieving safe growth and profitable results.

Hope to see you there next year.

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