Women In Propane: Jane Stroup — A Propane People Person

(October 9, 2017) — In recognition of October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, BPN remembers those in our industry who have been touched by this terrible disease, whether personally, a family member, or friend. This Women in Propane article about Jane Stroupe was originally published in April 2011. Many in the propane industry have known of Jane’s courageous battle with breast cancer. She passed away Sept. 2, 2017, at the age of 63.

Whether it was in her previous position as president of PNG Propane, her current position with Heritage Propane (Helena, Mont.) as vice president and regional manager, or through her propane industry involvement at the state and national levels, working with people is what Jane Stroupe enjoys most.
WIP Stroupe

“That’s the part of my job that’s still my favorite—the interaction with people,” she said. “The district employees are the ones that make your company or break it.”

She is even a people person when it comes to dealing with the competition.

“We try to look at them as friends, not enemies,” she said about other propane companies. “If they have a truck down and need us to help with something, we’ll do that.”

It has been that way since 1975 when she started with PNG Propane, which was based in Charlotte, N.C., and she continued on with Heritage when that company acquired PNG and three other companies in August 2000.

“My favorite profession is the propane industry,” she noted. “That’s where my heart is. I can’t imagine doing anything differently than working in the propane industry.” After she moved from Washington, D.C. to North Carolina, a local employment office placed her in a part-time clerk position with PNG, which was then known as Piedmont Natural Gas.

She climbed the ladder at PNG after the business separated its natural gas and propane operations in 1982. Stroupe was named district manager of PNG Propane’s Hickory, N.C. office and in 1990 became a regional manager, overseeing propane operations in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. She was promoted to president of the company in 1997 and served in that position until Heritage acquired PNG in 2000.

The highlight of her tenure as president of PNG? The people, of course. “It was a wonderful experience just because of all the different people you got to work with in the industry, the company, and district offices,” she noted.

Now, the managers of 12 Heritage retail locations in South Carolina and five in North Carolina all report to her. She credits the employees in her region for making her job responsibilities manageable and fun.

When she travels to the various district locations, she interacts with the drivers, service technicians, and customer service reps in the office.

“But I primarily visit with the district manager, and we discuss what’s going on at their location, what’s going on in the marketplace to see if they have any issues I can help with, and just review the overall operation for that district,” she said.

Expressing appreciation to employees is another aspect of her job. Heritage rewards employees when customer compliments come in and when the company feels they’ve gone above the call of duty. “We try to recognize what the employees are doing right instead of what they’re doing wrong. We are very proud of the way our employees treat their jobs, as if they own the company,” she pointed out.   

Stroupe also enjoys working with propane people at the state and national levels. She serves as national director for the South Carolina Propane Gas Association (SCPGA), which gives her a seat on the board of the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA).  She’s past president of the SCPGA and is active with the North Carolina Propane Gas Association, serving as district director in the past.

She believes marketers can make a difference by getting involved with national issues, and she mentioned the recent increase in fees for the Certified Employee Training Program (CETP). She and other state representatives spoke out against the increase at a recent NPGA board meeting.

“We kind of lost that battle but at least we could openly voice our opinion and let the board know how decisions affect the members, she remarked”

Her interaction with propane people isn’t all serious. She enjoys participating in propane industry golf tournaments and playing for fun on weekends.

 “It’s a great way to get to know people away from the office environment. You can tell a lot about someone’s character and integrity on the golf course.”  

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Since this appeared in BPN in 2011, Jane Stroupe continued to make a lasting impression on the industry. In 2012, with the merger of Heritage Propane and AmeriGas, she continued her career with her new company as area director and regional special projects coordinator for the Southeast.

In 2013, she was elected NPGA district director for the Southeast, and most recently, she was appointed by former NPGA chairman Stuart Weidie to serve as chair of the newly formed NPGA Workforce Development Task Force. She was also active in the formation of NPGA’s Women in Propane Council. Known for a mentoring leadership style where she believed in putting people first, her ideals will continue to serve all involved with Women in Propane.