Takeaways from the 2021 Propane Expo

November 11, 2021 By    


The propane industry waited 2.5 years for the return of its largest event – the National Propane Gas Association’s (NPGA) Southeastern Convention & International Propane Expo.

Despite low attendance, positivity permeated the Atlanta air – for the most part. Industry members welcomed seeing one another face to face after months of pandemic-related shutdowns, travel bans and video calls. At least, for several days in October, we enjoyed some sense of normalcy.

Here are our 10 takeaways from this year’s Propane Expo, in no particular order, as well as NPGA’s fall committee and board meetings that followed:

1. We continue to see evidence of a youth movement in the industry. Educational sessions focused on the “next generation of leaders” and “tomorrow’s propane leaders.” The Young Gassers organization hosted a lively reception where it recognized the latest entrants into its infant 30-under-30 program. Also, LP Gas held a panel discussion with our Rising Leaders.

2. Melissa Stockwell can move you to tears – and not tears of sadness, though the Iraq War veteran’s story of losing her left leg in a roadside bomb in 2004 is tragic. But to hear about how she chose to respond to the loss is not just motivational but also joyful, her attitude inspirational. “I chose to say all I lost was a leg.” Stockwell says she found her potential through the experience, and she became a Paralympian. She asked audience members to consider how they could find their potential. We won’t soon forget this keynote.

3. Military veterans are prepared for jobs at your companies. Maj. Gen. Thomas M. Carden Jr., adjutant general of the Georgia Department of Defense, drilled home this point with Expo attendees. “If you give these men and women an opportunity to work in your sector, I assure you that you won’t be sorry.”

4. Industry members must continue to familiarize themselves with new messaging about propane’s role in the environment. Jeff Stewart of Blue Star Gas urged marketers to download the Propane Education & Research Council’s (PERC) one-pager “Environmental Talking Points for Marketers,” found in the Resource Catalog at propane.com. “It really is about our industry being much more engaged,” he says, so it can educate its communities and help combat the electrification-of-everything movement.

5. The industry is preparing for a future that includes renewable propane. NPGA President and CEO Steve Kaminski challenged marketers to think about the fuel they’re delivering. “In 2050, are we going to deliver full tank loads of conventional propane? Probably not.” Kaminski wants the industry to be forward-thinking, to diversify its thought processes so it’s ready to adapt to changing times.

6. The propane industry can’t do it alone. Whether we’re talking about environmental messaging or renewable propane, industry stakeholders must build coalitions with like-minded groups in order to be part of the long-term solution.

7. We’re witnessing advancements not only with propane but with the applications that use the fuel. “I don’t want to waste an opportunity to get you to realize the pace of innovation,” says PERC President and CEO Tucker Perkins, calling attention to a propane-fueled utility vehicle, generator and other engine developments.

8. New entry-level driver training regulations requiring that new CDL and HME applicants complete classroom and behind-the-wheel training before they are eligible to sit for state CDL or HME exams take effect Feb. 7, 2022. We’ll have more about this regulation in our December issue.

9. The pricing and supply situation is a concern, and it’s leading some industry members to recall the 2013-14 polar vortex winter, marked by regional price spikes and distribution challenges. They’re prepared to delve into their playbooks, which include communication with the states, conversations with pipeline operators and other propane transporters, the prioritization of rail and hours-of-service waivers.

10. Departing Atlanta, we thought about doing this all over again in less than six months. The Propane Expo returns to its normal April schedule in 2022. We’re excited about the host city of Nashville, Tennessee, where we’ll also host the LP Gas Hall of Fame induction dinner.

About the Author:

Brian Richesson is the editor in chief of LP Gas Magazine. Contact him at brichesson@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3748.

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