New Video Touts Propane Mower 
Benefits

WASHINGTON (August 20, 2019) – The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) has added a new video to its popular Straight Talk video series highlighting Barnes, Inc., a Madison, Wisconsin-based landscape contractor that operates 75 propane-powered mowers.
Barnes Landscape Touts commercial Propane mowers for more savings environmental sustainability in new video reports BPN the propane industry's leading source for news and information since 1939
Available online on Propane.com, the new video provides an updated look at Barnes’s experiences using propane mowers five years after being initially featured in a 2014 Straight Talk video discussing its initial foray into operating with propane.

“Barnes is a textbook example of a contractor who starts by integrating just a few propane mowers into its fleet, and then ultimately expands its propane use into much more of the fleet after experiencing the fuel’s numerous benefits,” said Jeremy Wishart, director of off-road business development at PERC. “In just five years, Barnes has saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in overall fuel and maintenance costs from using propane mowers. We hope this new Straight Talk video can help show how a commitment to using propane can really make a difference for landscape contractors in both the short and long term.”

PERC’s Straight Talk series is a free online library of video testimonials that let viewers learn about propane mowers directly from landscape contractors, outdoor power equipment dealers, municipal fleet directors, and golf course managers who use the equipment daily. The testimonials give first-hand accounts about how propane saves on fuel costs, lowers emissions, and what it’s like to operate and service equipment powered by the alternative fuel.

Barnes has replaced all but its largest mowers with propane. Over five years of using the fuel, the company has paid as little as $1 per gallon of propane. Barnes has saved even more by using PERC’s Propane Mower Incentive Program, which offers contractors up to $1,000 for each new, dedicated propane mower purchase or $500 for each new qualified propane conversion kit. In addition to using propane mowers, Barnes also began incorporating propane autogas into its vehicle fleet in 2016. The company currently uses five propane autogas bi-fuel trucks.

View the new Straight Talk video on Propane.com/Propane-Products/Commercial-Mowers. To learn more about propane mowers,
visit Propane.com/Landscape-and-Turf-Maintenance.

National Clean Energy Week Highlights Propane’s Uses, Advantages

(August 19, 2019) WASHINGTON — Activities being held across the country through the end of September are helping to position propane as a clean, eco-friendly fuel in the eyes of policymakers. The activities will culminate in National Clean Energy Week (NCEW), Sept. 23-27. During that week, state and national policymakers will meet in Washington, D.C., to discuss clean energy solutions.

National Clean Energy Week celebrates propane autogas and clean lpg as the National Propane Gas Assoc. advocates propane is clean American energy source for vehicles, homes, agriculture and more reports BPN the propane industry's leading source for news and information since 1939. The National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) is a sponsor of NCEW 2019. The association has been organizing activities around the event and is encouraging others in the industry to coordinate activities with NPGA. During an all-day policy symposium that is among the events to be held in Washington, NPGA’s senior vice president of advocacy and technical services, Michael Caldarera, will be a featured speaker.

Participation in NCEW is one of NPGA’s four “90-Day Criticals” for the third quarter of 2019. The goal: to showcase propane among America’s clean, alternative energy sources.

“This is NPGA’s first year as a sponsor in National Clean Energy Week, which is now in its third year,” NPGA’s deputy counsel, regulatory affairs, Sarah Reboli, tells BPN. “Our leadership chose to participate because the strategy to combine events throughout the country that build up to a series of discussions in Washington, D.C., is an excellent way to showcase how propane—in every state—can serve as a clean energy solution while bringing the examples back to our nation’s capital to show major policymakers.”

NCEW was launched in 2017. The organizers of the event explain, “NCEW brings together government officials, industry associations, businesses, nonprofits, and advocates in the clean energy space for events in Washington, D.C. and across America to showcase how they are helping to make the clean energy sector stronger, and influence the discussion around responsible clean energy solutions that directly address America’s need for abundant, reliable forms of energy.” Today, NCEW has more than 100 participating organizations.

The event has been recognized by governors across the country. The organizers of NCEW report that 29 governors, both Republican and Democratic, issued state proclamations recognizing last year’s event. As this was written in mid-August, the governors of Alabama and Oklahoma had recognized NCEW 2019, and many more were expected to do so closer to the event, as they did last year. “This year the number will be closer to 40,” Reboli says. “That shows the momentum building under National Clean Energy Week.”

As well as sponsoring NCEW and participating in its events, Reboli says, “NPGA is working with the propane industry and state associations to highlight the use and advantages of propane to meet the country’s wide array of energy needs while reducing emissions.”

For example, NPGA will showcase autogas fleets and conversion kits across all types of combustible engines by partnering with the Ohio Propane Gas Association at the Midwest Green Transportation Forum & Expo and by conducting a tour and interview with a shop that converts engines of nearly every type to propane.
“We are working with several companies to host tours and meet-and-greets, participate in interviews, and place op-eds in their local newspapers,” she adds.

As NCEW 2019 nears, all propane businesses can join in and “spread the news on propane’s role in meeting America’s energy needs,” Reboli says. She suggests they participate by sharing messaging from NPGA’s website (npga.org) and the association’s social media platforms.

“The heart of our message is that propane is part of the solution to America’s energy and environmental ambitions,” Reboli concludes. “We’re showcasing propane’s uses and advantages to policymakers at the local level through events at different places in the country as well as state and national officials that participate in the events in Washington, D.C. It’s crucial that we use National Clean Energy Week to demonstrate that propane has a place in the national dialogue about American energy.”
For more information about National Clean Energy Week, visit nationalcleanenergyweek.org.

For information about engaging in activities in support of NCEW, call the NPGA office at (202) 466-7200 or email Sarah Reboli at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.—Steve Relyea

Implementing a 20% Rule: Why and How

Delivery efficiency is both critical and controllable. David Lowe, vice president of Pro Image Communications (Grand Blanc, Mich.), notes that propane marketers can’t control the weather or the wholesale price of the fuel, but they can control their own company culture and delivery efficiency. With the right roster of drivers, equipment, and methods of dispatch, he says, marketers can boost their delivery efficiency and productivity.

David Lowe propane industry veteran advises LPG professionals on how to maximize delivery and operational efficiencies reports BPN the propane industry's leading source for news and information since 1939In his seminar at the 2019 NPGA Southeastern Convention, “Delivery Efficiency Case Studies,” Lowe presented data and offered tips to help marketers improve their productivity. Both the data and the tips come from real-life experience. Lowe represents Pro Image as an Energy Professional providing propane clients with unique marketing, sales, training, and consulting programs. His seminar was based on data collected from clients that had come to him for analysis of their operations.

Ideally, Lowe says, all tanks would be filled at 20%. More likely, he adds, it is done at 30%. Based on 12 months of data from those clients, though, he found that they were filling tanks at a point between 38% and 44%.

MAKING CHANGES
During the seminar, he presented several case studies showing the data from clients, before and after they made changes to improve their delivery efficiency.

In one, he analyzed the numbers for a January in which the marketer delivered whenever the company wanted and the following January in which the marketer delivered only when customers were at 20%. After implementing the 20% rule, this marketer delivered 14% more gallons per drop; 20% more gallons per mile; and 26% more gallons per day.

In another case study, he analyzed the numbers for a January in which the marketer delivered when the tank was at 30% and the following January in which the marketer delivered at 25%. In this case, after implementing a 25% rule, the marketer delivered 4% more gallons per drop; 11% more gallons per mile; and 15% more gallons per day.

In a third analysis, he made a comparison that showed the difference between filling tanks at 30% versus doing it at 20%. By making this change, the client improved the number of gallons per drop by 13%; the number of gallons per mile by 29%; and the number of gallons per day by 23%.

Making these kinds of improvements in delivery efficiency requires several actions: Make sure drivers don’t get called off route to do other things when they should be making their scheduled deliveries; avoid runouts by improving your process, not by delivering more often than you should; and, if a will call customer is unable to afford a full 300-gallon delivery, offer a price protection program plan. Better yet, don’t offer customers a will call plan; offer only automatic delivery.

“If you don’t offer will call, they don’t ask for it,” Lowe said. “If there is an issue, you can place the account on a budget plan. You are the energy expert and you don’t have to say no. A budget plan makes it like natural gas; the customer pays the same every month. If you have them put it on their credit card, and there is a problem in the future, then they get mad at the card, not you.”

He also recommended running the numbers and getting rid of customers who don’t make the company money. One way to do that is to ask every driver and customer service representative to name three customers they’d like to get rid of. “Delivery culture is anchored on numbers, if those numbers have meaning,” he said. “Facts aren’t feelings, and feelings aren’t facts.”

MENTAL PREPARATION
Implementing a 20% rule and sticking with it requires success in leadership, making decisions, and sticking to a process of gathering numbers and continually refining the way things are done, Lowe said.

The key to maintaining success, he added, is mind set. It takes mental preparation to achieve improved productivity through change. The leader must have a vision or goal, a process, and the discipline to stick to that process every day. He compared improving delivery efficiency to improving physical fitness: you need to have a vision of what you want to accomplish; you need to know how you’re going to do it; and you need to have the focus and discipline to do it every day.

The most difficult challenge in achieving your vision is the failure to remain focused and disciplined every day. It usually requires specialized personnel to achieve your vision.

“Be responsible and accountable,” he advised. “You’ll get success and maintain success when you and your staff are uncomfortable.”

When Lowe owned a retail propane and transport business, he says, “I knew my numbers and I worked the process. I was gathering numbers and continually refining, seeing what does and doesn’t work.”

Lowe named some managers from the sports world who have been role models and who can inspire managers in any industry. Tom Landry was always reserved on the sidelines, holding a piece of paper and talking calmly with his middle manager, the quarterback. Paul DePodesta has found success in both baseball and football because in both sports he has been devoted to culture and data. Bill Belichick is relentless and requires his team to practice for every situation that could happen in a game.

Some teams have a high turnover in personnel. Why? Because the coaches drop players that don’t fit the desired profile. Propane marketers should do the same, keeping only the drivers and equipment that fit the profile of the sort of operation the marketer wants to run.

“To increase productivity, you must improve delivery efficiency, resulting in fewer workers and trucks,” Lowe concluded. “You can spend your money on drivers and trucks or you can buy yourself boats and airplanes—that’s a choice you make.”

For more information, contact David Lowe and Pro Image Communications at (616) 430-1879, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and proimagecommunications.com.

(©Butane-Propane News magazine, August 2019)

Kansas City's Entire School Bus Fleet Goes Propane Saving $500K Per Year

(August 15, 2019) — The Kansas City Star reports that Kansas City Public Schools students will board brand new propane-fueled buses this month when they head back to the classroom. The entire bus fleet will operate on propane under a new contract with Student Transportation of America. The district is rolling out 155 75-passenger buses, marking the first time a school district in the metropolitan area has operated its entire transportation service on the alternative fuel.

Kansas City Public School District Purchases 155 new propane-powered Blue Bird Vision LPG altfuel School Buses reports BPN the propane industry's leading source for news and information since 1939The new propane buses “are more efficient,” Chris Walls, Kansas City Public Schools transportation director, tells the newspaper. “They are better from an emissions standpoint. They burn cleaner and they run about 30% quieter.” He added that, with propane costing about 91 cents/gal., they are also cheaper to fuel. Diesel costs about $2 a gallon in the area. “On 500,000 gallons, that’s about a $500,000 a year savings,” he says.

Walls adds that the district gets additional benefits with the propane buses. Each Bluebird Corp. bus has an automatic counter that records when and where each student enters and exits the bus. They are also equipped with Wi-Fi and have an audio system so drivers don’t have to yell when they communicate with students on the bus.

(SOURCE: The Weekly Propane Newsletter, August 12, 2019)

Reduce Liability Exposure By Implementing Proper Safety Measures

Can you recall these popular adages? “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” “It’s better to be safe than sorry.” “Safety doesn’t happen by accident.” Proverbs such as these likely resonate with the majority of propane marketers who understand the very existence of their business hinges on one critical factor—safety. Sayings like these stand the test of time because they serve as practical reminders to be careful, to play it safe, to not become complacent.
Propane liability trail attorney John Hansen provides tips to propane retailers on how to reduce liability exposure by implementing certai safety proceedures reports butane propane news 08-2019
Safety underpins everything as it relates to the overall success of a propane business. In a recent seminar, trial attorney John G. Hansen of McCoy Leavitt Laskey LLC, a national catastrophic fire and explosion law firm, pointed out how many gallons would need to be sold to cover three realistic settlement amounts. It would take 10 million gallons to cover a $2-million settlement, 11 million gallons to cover a $2.2-million settlement, and 25 million gallons to cover a $5-million settlement. Nothing will repair the damage a safety incident can cause to a business’ reputation.

When it comes to safety—there’s nothing bigger than the little things. In his seminar at the Mid-States Propane Expo & Trade Show in Olathe, Kan., Hansen led a lively legal presentation that addressed the importance of creating a work environment in which safety is the highest priority; taking proactive, preventive safety measures that involve the entire staff; and acknowledging, sharing, and rewarding best practices. These, he said, are paramount to maintaining a thriving propane business.

Hansen, who serves as regional and national counsel for several clients including the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) and the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), prides himself on providing clients effective and efficient legal representation for 30 years, focusing primarily on defending catastrophic fire and explosion cases brought against gas suppliers and product manufacturers, and others. He has developed a particular expertise in propane cases in which he has represented retailers, wholesalers, transporters, and refineries in cases brought throughout the United States. Hansen has litigated hundreds of cases and has heard and seen firsthand how details in a case can get scrutinized under a legal microscope. He began his presentation by emphasizing the fact that no propane marketer ever wants to confront the worrisome question, “Did we do something wrong?”
Trial Attorney John Hansen role plays deposition from propane injury liabiity case to provide tips to LPG retailers to avoid accidents reports BPN 08-2019
The propane industry prides itself on its safety record and does an excellent job with safety training and certification programs, safety materials, and other resources. Marketers are well aware that all it takes is one small mistake or wrong assumption to contribute to a potential accident and legal liability.

Hansen shared (gruesome) details from various legal cases in the news to help illustrate the severity of the burn injuries caused by an accident and helped the audience grasp firsthand just how, “there is nothing worse than a burn injury.” Hansen’s engaging presentation held the audience’s attention especially during the role-play portions of depositions and court testimony. Hansen would pause to point out the areas where safety industry standards were not adhered to and offered the defense perspective with suggested actions to help avoid legal liability and the agony of worrying, “Did we do something wrong?”

Although juries are instructed to be fair and impartial, I realized after squirming through some of the injury details, it might be hard not to lean sympathetic to the pain and suffering of a burn victim. Ask yourself, when it comes to deciding between an injured plaintiff and the gas companies, who do you think jurors are more likely to identify with emotionally?

The following areas were among some of the topics addressed during Hansen’s legal presentation that provided propane marketers insight about ways to implement safety measures to help reinforce their businesses against future liability issues:

CSRs—YOUR FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE
The critical role of a customer service representative (CSR) cannot be overstated when it comes to safety and accident prevention. Hansen remarked that customers expect CSRs to be knowledgeable and ready to give good advice. Many marketers, he added, still don’t train their CSRs. Hansen frequently hears comments like, “They just take calls. They don’t want to get involved. That’s not their job. You can’t expect them to know that stuff.”

Hansen ardently disagrees, stating, “There are too many examples of when an accident could have been avoided if the call had been handled differently.” He emphasized that it is crucial that customer service reps receive proper training. “CSRs are a first line of defense when it comes to fielding calls and giving advice regarding a potential safety situation. A CSR definitely should not make assumptions. It is important to remember that an employee may be required to give statements in a legal deposition or testify if a case goes to court, so it is your responsibility to arm them with all the tools they need to protect your business and represent you well.”

Hansen recalled details from the deposition of a safety manager who was questioned for eight hours under oath. He replaced some of the safety manager’s misstatements with correctly revised answers to illustrate how CSRs can be more empowered to strengthen safety efforts. Here are some of the suggestions that were discussed:
  1. Make CSRs part of the safety team. Have them attend safety meetings. Make sure they comprehend the vital role they play regarding customer and employee safety.
  2. Train CSRs so they are well informed about proper propane safety procedures and are trained to respond appropriately to customer calls.
  3. Have a prepared script for CSRs and make sure they follow it.
  4. If a CSR doesn’t know an answer, encourage them to ask questions and seek information from other professional staff members.
  5. Review proper safety materials with CSRs frequently. In a legal situation, an employee could be asked questions such as, “Have you read the PERC safety brochure? When was the last time you reviewed the safety brochure? Can you tell us what the next step is in the warning?” It’s always a best practice for employees to be up-to-date and be familiar with safety materials.
REMEMBER:

If It Wasn’t Documented, It Wasn’t Done. Customer Certification Forms, etc.
The motto of our litigious society, “If it isn’t documented, it wasn’t done,” simply cannot be stressed enough! Document, document, document. If you are ever required to go to court, you can’t prove anything was done properly unless you have the paperwork to prove it.

The majority of propane marketers in the audience agreed with Hansen that, “Every propane marketer should get a ‘New Customer Certification’ form on file that has been signed and dated by the customer stating that they received and read the PERC Propane Safety Information for You and Your Family brochure.”

Understand the Difference Between an “Interruption of Service” and An “Out-of-Gas Situation”
There have been cases where a delivery driver thought the propane tank still had pressure so a leak test was not performed. Never assume anything! If you have doubts or questions, knock on the customer’s door and ask more questions. Don’t forget to document everything!

Where in the Code is “Out of Gas” and “Interruption of Service” Defined?
One of the biggest liability issues may not be well defined. Do you know where “Out-of-Gas” situations are defined? NFPA58? NFPA54? CTEP classes? Employees should be very clear about this and knowing the difference between an Out-of-Gas situation and an Interruption of Service and how to handle each, respectively.

5% Rule
No matter what, in the event that a propane tank gauge reads 5% or lower, always perform a leak test and always document it!

DUTY-TO-WARN SAFETY OBLIGATION
As you know, propane marketers have a duty-to-warn obligation to provide customers with the information they need to safely and comfortably enjoy all the benefits that propane can deliver. Typically, a PERC Propane Safety or Propane Safety Information for You and Your Family brochure is mailed to every customer annually, often by a third-party vendor that provides certification of service. The business should receive the mailing at its business mailing address. The unopened envelope should be kept on file along with the customer mailing list, U.S. postal reports, vendor, and other mailing documentation.

SAFETY QUESTIONS FOR RETAIL PROPANE MARKETERS
Here are some sample questions that might be asked during a deposition:
  1. Does your company follow the warnings in the PERC Propane Safety brochure?
  2. When was the last time employees read the PERC Propane Safety brochure? Do they know what it says?
  3. Do you provide customers with a copy of the PERC Propane Safety brochure? Can you provide documentation that a duty-to-warn mailing was sent?
  4. Have your employees heard of odor fade?
  5. Is there ever a time when people can’t smell the odor of propane gas?
  6. Do you recommend installing a combination carbon monoxide and propane gas detector?
Hansen left the audience with this parting advice, “Know that attorneys will imply to a jury that the propane company doesn’t care about safety. Now, if you are ever to encounter a situation where you must defend your business in court, you will have prepared beforehand and will be ready to provide well-documented evidence that proves your business does care and goes to great lengths to take every precaution.”

Hansen wrapped up the presentation noting the industry’s excellent safety record and the meticulous self-regulation and commitment to safety will likely put him out of business. And, he said he’d be happy if he never had to look at another burn victim photo. Maybe, he mused, “I’ll take up a more uplifting career like divorce law.”

In addition to his litigation practice, Hansen regularly consults with clients regarding safety, training, and warning issues, and proactively works with his clients to prevent accidents. He is also a frequent speaker at industry conferences focusing his presentations on practical advice designed to enhance safety. He is a past president and current board member of the Propane Gas Defense Association and has achieved the highest rating from Martindale-Hubbell (AV).

(Butane-Propane News, August 2019)