Revisiting Vision 2014: High-priced industry growth plan remains relevant in new year

January 26, 2015 By    

Before the winter of 2013-14 grabbed our attention, chilling us to the bone in many parts of the country, the industry had placed much of its focus on a plan called Vision 2014.

The National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) initiative intended to return the industry, amid a decade-long decline in retail propane demand, to a growth path. It targeted several key areas where industry leaders felt propane could gain traction through various forms of education and outreach. It also came with a $700,000 industry price tag and a 26 percent dues increase for association members.

Vision 2014 became a hot topic in 2012 and 2013 as NPGA prepared the plan through committee and task force meetings and prepped its membership, which responded with very little public pushback. Many members agreed the industry needed a response plan for its eroding traditional markets.

The plan was approved during the 2013 winter board meeting with the idea it would take effect by 2014. Now, two years later, the question begs asking: Where do we stand with Vision 2014?

“It’s as relevant today as the day it was finalized,” says Phil Squair, senior vice president, public and governmental affairs, for NPGA. He later adds, “Last year’s plan set the course for last year, this year and future years.”

While Vision 2014 resources were allocated in four key areas (outside lobbyists, agency outreach, communications and analytics), it did not come with a to-do list, but took more of a thematic approach.

Positioning propane alongside natural gas in public policy has become a primary theme for 2015, Squair says. Promoting growth legislation and policies, reducing expense burdens and educating congressional leaders about propane remain part of an ongoing Vision 2014 plan, funded through the current dues structure.

Last winter went a long way toward providing propane education to policymakers, Squair notes. Though propane took a PR hit with regional shortages and price spikes, the “crisis” gave industry leaders an opportunity to connect with those on Capitol Hill.

“In the past, we haven’t had that situation where they were really looking for information on the propane marketplace,” he says. “Last year impacted so many people in so many states in so many ways, they were hungry for what we were able to give them.”

As Vision 2014 was being finalized two years ago, NPGA received one question in particular: How will you measure success in such a plan? Squair cites policy victories emanating from Vision 2014 resources that benefit the industry, such as tax provisions boosting gallon sales or hours-of-service provisions for commercial truck drivers supporting delivery operations. But there isn’t always a clear-cut barometer measuring industry impact from policy decisions in Washington, D.C. Years may pass in some cases before the propane industry realizes any benefits or gains useful data.

Megan Wilkinson

Megan Wilkinson

That’s why it’s important for NPGA to keep its members and the industry updated when it comes to Vision 2014 – just to ensure such a high-priced plan doesn’t fall out of focus.

Growing our team
A new year has brought new faces to LP Gas magazine.

Megan Wilkinson, who earned a bachelor’s degree in magazine journalism from Kent State University last year, has joined our staff as an associate editor. She has experience with two other business magazines and two daily newspapers the last three years.

Chloe Kalin

Chloe Kalin

Chloe Kalin also has joined LP Gas as marketing and sales manager for our online Buyers Guide. Kalin has 10 years of experience with sales and customer service in the retail and hospitality industries, with the last five years in a management role.

Diane Sofranec has been working with LP Gas as our senior digital editor for about a year, so she’s not exactly new, but this does allow us to reintroduce her to our readers.

Photos: LP Gas Magazine

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