Women In Propane: Service Tech “Sam” Bassett A Rarity

Samantha “Sam” Bassett, a service technician at Superior Energy in Vernon, Conn., often receives surprised looks from customers when they open their doors to find a 24-year-old woman showing up to install or fix a gas appliance, equipment, or line.
BPN profiles Women In Propane Samantha Bassett a rare female propane service technician at Superior Energy in Conn. butane-propane news sept 2019
“It’s not that they’re disrespectful, but when they open the door and see me with heavy, industrial equipment, they second-guess me a lot. I get a lot of second guesses,” she said.

Female service technicians are the minority, but they are even rarer in the propane industry.

“I’ve yet to come across another female technician. A lot of people at the supply house talk, and they don’t know any other woman doing what I’m doing,” she said. “I think it’s actually pretty cool I’m the only woman around who knows how to do this.”

Customers agree. “I was pleasantly surprised to see Sam at my door. I never had a female technician come to repair anything. Very competent and very polite and friendly,” one customer posted on the company’s Facebook page. “Sam was on time, professional, friendly, and my dog liked her!” posted another customer.

Bassett’s career in the energy field began in high school when she took a summer job installing solar panels. After high school, she studied to become an electrical apprentice and was looking for a job when a family friend asked her to come to work at his propane company in their town of Stafford Springs, Conn.

“I was just going to do it temporarily until I found a job in the electrical field, but that never happened.” She stayed at the small company primarily working with residential customers for six years before joining Superior Energy about 18 months ago.

The family-owned propane company based in Vernon, Conn., is one of the leading propane companies in Connecticut and parts of southern Massachusetts. Founded in 1939, today the company not only distributes propane, but also specializes in space heating equipment, fireplaces, gas fire logs, and temporary construction equipment. They tout hiring employees like Sam who live in, and are familiar with, the communities they serve, and provide them with opportunities to continue their training, even paying for schooling and all certifications.

“Furnaces, fire pits—anything burning propane or natural gas, we install,” she said. “I’m hoping to expand as much as I can. I have my G2 license.” (A certified G2 technician may install, inspect, alter, purge, activate, repair, service, or remove a natural gas or propane appliance and the equipment and accessories essential to its operation, unsupervised.) “I’m definitely going to get my G1 license” (the highest level of certification).

“I like the challenge of trying to figure out what’s wrong with stuff. I like to use my mind,” she said. Her love of fixing things was instilled by her father, who lives with his wife and Sam’s sister about 10 minutes away. “I have always loved doing anything mechanical. I loved working out in the garage with my dad.”

During the summer, Bassett works on a lot of pool heaters, cooking ranges, and gas lines, but her favorite installations are gas log fireplaces or any freestanding fireplace. “They look awesome once they are installed. I think they are beautiful, and they make the customers so happy when they are burning for the first time.

“I really enjoy what I do. There’s nothing I really hate about this job other than working in the blazing heat or freezing cold,” she said half-jokingly. “I like the look on people’s faces when you finish a job, especially people who have had no hot water or heat. You go there and they are so appreciative.”

When she’s not working, Sam enjoys camping on the weekends with her boyfriend and three dogs and doing anything outdoors—hunting, fishing, and playing on a softball team.

When asked why there are not more female service technicians in the propane industry, she said she honestly is not sure. Her advice to other women thinking of entering the field: “It’s a lot of hard work, and it’s not for everyone, that’s for sure. You can do it. You just have to put your mind to it.” — Karen VanAsdale

(SOURCE: Butane-Propane News magazine, September 2019)