PERC Restructures Safety, Education, and Compliance Team; Hires New Staff

(October 17, 2019) — The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) recently added four new staff members to guide its restructured Safety, Education, and Compliance team. This team will develop and deploy educational and compliance materials to meet the challenges that employers face while addressing the educational needs of a changing workforce. The goal is for education, training, and compliance materials to be available in shorter programs, with a variety of easy-to-use delivery and documentation options. PERC will also have the capability to produce materials in-house, providing a faster turnaround time so that code and regulatory changes can be addressed, and customization of educational and training materials is available to states and companies.
Propane People in the news Propane Council restructures Safety, Education, & Compliance team welcomes 4 including Eric Kuster reports BPN oct 2019
“Safety and training are a key focus and top priority for PERC,” said PERC president and CEO Tucker Perkins. “This team of experts is going to build on that foundation and create new innovative training and safety materials and new innovative ways to deploy the material and access the training.”

To that end, Eric Kuster, a longtime propane industry veteran, has joined PERC as Vice President of Safety, Education, and Compliance, where he will head the team that advises senior management and the Council on all matters related to safety, education, and code compliance. Kuster has been a member of the PERC Advisory Committee since 2003 and is a former chairman of its Safety and Technical Training Working Group. In his new position, he will help guide the creation of innovative safety programs and direct the team’s ongoing work to transform workforce safety training materials to meet the evolving trends and demands of the industry.

Kuster most recently served as director of safety and certification for the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA), where he oversaw the CETP certification program. He was also a member of NPGA’s Education, Safety & Training Committee, where he received the NPGA chairman’s award, and is a past contributor to the NFPA 58 handbook. Prior to his work at NPGA, Kuster was assistant vice president of risk engineering at Crum & Forster; served 15 years at Fairmont Specialty Insurance as risk engineering manager; for nine years was a terminal manager and director of safety and training for Tri-Gas & Oil Co.; and for five years was a district manager at Ferrellgas.
Propane People in the news PERC welcomes 4 new staff to restructured Safety, Education, & Compliance team including Lyndon Ricard reports BPN propane industry's trusted news source since 1939. oct 2019
Lyndon Rickards, PERC’s new director of Safety and Compliance, will oversee PERC’s safety and compliance program offerings and will be responsible for incorporating industry regulations, codes, standards, and best practices into PERC education and safety resources. Rickards will also provide subject matter expertise in his engagement with companies, industry organizations, and committees related to safety compliance and training.

He was previously at Eastern Propane and Oil in Rochester, N.H., for 23 years. Rickards most recently served as assistant vice president of risk management, managing and developing safety; regulatory compliance; and technical training programs. He also developed training curriculum for 150 service technicians, drivers, and field service and sales personnel. He is a member of NPGA’s TS&S Committee and PERC’s Advisory Committee.
BPN's Propane People in the news PERC restructures Safety, Education, and Compliance team adds Emily Wood oct 2019
Emily Wood, PERC’s newly named Educational Content Development Coordinator, will be responsible for creating all course content for the council’s safety education, training, and compliance programs as well as overseeing the optimization of learner engagement, performance support, and measurement. Wood’s duties also include the creation of instructor and participant guides, and the design of various forms of learning used on PERC’s learning management system. She most recently worked as an e-learning developer for the Oregon Child Development Coalition, where she provided instructional design for classroom-based courses and created graphics, videos, and assessments for the courses.
BPN's Propane People In the news reports PERC has restructured its Safety, Education, and Compliance team adds 4 new staff including Chris Hanson Oct 2019
Chris Hanson has joined PERC as Learning Management System (LMS) Administrator. In this position, he will be responsible for the overall management, maintenance, and administration of PERC’s online LMS platform. His primary role is to optimize the user training experience with the online system. Previously, he worked for 10 years as training information manager for the Washington State Department of Corrections, where he was oversaw the development, implementation, and maintenance of its training programs. Hanson performed routine systems maintenance and administration, and assisted in the design, review, testing, and implementation of LMS updates and enhancements.

Economic Study Demonstrates Gas, Oil Benefits to California

(October 16, 2019) — A new economic impact study released by the Institute for Applied Economics for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. (LAEDC) demonstrates the tremendous economic and fiscal impact California’s oil and gas industry has on the state’s economy.

2019 Economic Study Demonstrates Oil and Natural Gas industry provides huge economic and employment Benefits to California reports Weekly Propane Newsletter avail by subscription from BPN propane industry trusted source for news since 1939For the study, 2019 Report Oil and Gas in California: The Industry, Its Economic Contribution and User Industries at Risk, LAEDC analyzed extraction, production, refining, and petroleum products manufacturing, finding that industry activity generated $152.3 billion in total economic output, making up 2.1% of California’s overall gross state product in 2017.

The oil and gas industry also made significant fiscal contributions to California’s state and local governments, including $21.6 billion in state and local tax revenues and $11 billion in sales tax, $7 billion in property taxes, $1 billion in income taxes, and $96 million in Department of Conservation Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources assessments.

“The oil and gas industry makes a significant contribution to the California economy in terms of jobs, labor income, economic output, and the industry’s contribution to California’s GDP,” said Shannon Sedgwick, senior economist at LAEDC and the Institute of Applied Economics. “Not only that, as a key input for products ranging from pharmaceuticals to flame-retardant clothing, many other California industries rely upon the state’s oil and gas industry and its production, downstream processing, and products as an input to their production and provision of services, such as California’s manufacturing industries, agriculture, transportation industries, and even establishments operating in our large leisure and hospitality industry.”

The report findings further illustrate the industry is a major employer, responsible for support- ing 365,970 total jobs in 2017, or 1.6% of California’s employment, of which 152,100 were direct jobs, representing a 6% increase since 2016 and a level fore- cast to rise an additional 1.6% over the next five years.

The research details industry segments that provide a career path for diverse individuals across the skills and education spectrum, all with relatively high wages that averaged more than $80,000 annually.

Findings include nearly 50% of the oil and gas industry workforce is ethnically diverse, 63% of industry workers do not have a bachelor’s degree, and one-third of all workers have a high school diploma or less.

“We’re extremely proud of the opportunities we are able to provide the Californians who work together to power this valuable industry,” said Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president of the Western States Petroleum Association. “While the economic impact numbers are compelling, the other side of the numbers tell the story of the state’s hard-working men and women who are deeply rooted in the industry, and in making their communities thrive. The labor income we generate highlights the industry’s commitment to the health, education, and living conditions of our industry employees. It is central to our economy and our way of life.”

(SOURCE: The Weekly Propane Newsletter, available exclusively by subscription)

Critical Operating Decisions Require Focus On Key Metrics, Cutting Unnecessary Paperwork

(October 15, 2019) — Look at the numbers that matter and only the numbers that matter. This is an excellent practice that will help managers make critical operating decisions. Mike Shilts says that with the right tools and habits, managers can have the numbers they need and not be distracted by those they don’t.
Shilts is vice president of marketing and business development at K & K Management Solutions (Indianapolis), a company that provides software to manage propane and refined fuel delivery.
Mike Shilts professional with K&K Management solutions a Propane and rerfined fuels Software company shares tips about what key metrics need to be tracked reports BPN magazine the propane industry's trusted source for news since 1939. Oct. 2019
He has degrees in psychology and finance/accounting (CPA) and a background that includes 15 years as director of retail operations at a family-owned propane business that had seven branches.

In his seminar at the NPGA Southeastern Convention, “Drowning in Data? How to Make Critical Decisions With Key Metrics and Cut Paperwork 90%,” Shilts shared with the audience the types of data he used to manage those branches. He walked attendees through 10 Excel worksheets and explained the key metrics they display. By focusing on these metrics, he added, marketers can improve their businesses while also cutting out unnecessary paperwork.

Each of his worksheets is designed so that a customer service representative can fill it out in less than five minutes. When a worksheet is complete, he said, it creates a visual display that quickly portrays your most important and timely information.

“You can’t improve and modernize your business if you have to spend all your time digging up these numbers,” Shilts said. “You should have these numbers right at your fingertips.”

Among the numbers that are to be recorded on the worksheets, and the reasons they are there, are the following:

Gallons (Units) Metrics: Gallons delivered each month and year to date are recorded on this worksheet. The totals are broken down by location, branch, or entity and by type of customer (domestic, commercial, etc.). Each of these is compared to last year, the goal, or the budget. “This is the most important metric; no money is made unless gas is delivered to a customer’s tank,” Shilts said.

Tank Sets, Pickups, Net Sets Metrics: This worksheet records the number of sets and pickups and the net sets—the difference between the two—for each month and year to date. The totals are broken down by location, branch, or entity. Each of these is compared to last year. “You don’t want pickups unless you’re not running fuel through those tanks because of the very high cost of steel.” A seminar attendee asked if he has kept metrics on the reasons for pickup. Shilts answered, “Not here, but I did track controllable and uncontrollable reasons for pickups. You want to know the total number first, then you can investigate why. You start with the big level, then ‘drill down’ to the next level.”
Shilts KK Propane Software Seminar Advises LPG leaders Key Metrics to track reports BPN propane industry trusted source for news since 1939 oct 2019
Goal Metrics (Gallons/Tank Sets): This worksheet tracks progress toward goals in the number of gallons delivered and tank sets/customers. For each, it records the location’s goal, total to date, percent of goal, and number of units above or below the goal. “These are the numbers you should show employees—the top-level goals and where they stand toward those goals, which are great company-wide motivators,” Shilts said.

Margin Metrics (Aggregate/By Product): The number of gallons delivered and the aggregate margin dollars are recorded on this worksheet. These are broken down by customer type (domestic, commercial, industrial, and wholesale) and by location. During the seminar, Shilts showed a sample worksheet with the numbers for three marketers: one high-margin, one equal products, and one low-margin. “They all sold the same number of gallons, but they have wildly different margins,” he noted. “That is what buyers look at, so you should look at what is generating the highest margins and cash flow.”

Valuation Metrics (EBITDA/Multiples): This worksheet calculates earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA); free cash flow; and buyer’s cash flow. It also shows projected valuations and projected gallon sales multiples. “You want to be sure that you are selling a ‘castle’ and not a ‘shack’ to a prospective buyer,” Shilts said. “They are not interested in the number of gallons, but the aggregate margin on those gallons.”

Delivery Metrics (Increased Drop Size Savings): On this worksheet, users insert their data or projections for annual gallons delivered, projected increase in gallons per drop, initial average gallons per drop, and cost per drop. The worksheet then calculates the decrease in the number of drops by increasing drop size and the annual savings by increasing drop size. “The fewer times you handle the product, the fewer stops you make, the more money you make since this is primarily a distribution business,” Shilts noted. “This worksheet shows the effect of five-gallon improvements per drop. You can set these as a goal, plus it helps explain why you need to closely monitor will-call deliveries.”
Mike Shilts w K&K Software Managment for propane and refined fuels shares tips for propane professionals to track reports BPN magazine the LPG industrys trusted source for news since 1939. Oct 2019
Delivery Metrics (Reduced Excess Drops Savings): Here, users insert their data or projections for total drops, initial “excess drops” percentage, projected decrease percentage in “excess drops,” and cost per drop. The worksheet then calculates the decrease in the number of excess drops and the savings by decreasing excess drops. “This number should be zero—it’s excess, so reducing excess is a step in the right direction,” Shilts said. “Yes, we want to take care of the customer, but we don’t want to deliver when they are at 60%. Bobtails and driver costs are way too expensive to make excess drops.”

Cash Flow Metrics (12-Month Rolling): This worksheet records beginning cash balance; inflow and outflow in cash from operations, cash from investments, and cash from financing; net cash in or out; and end cash balance. It records this for each month and for the year. “Cash flow is what counts; you have to generate cash flow,” Shilts said. “It is 12-month rolling, so you can see what to expect on a continuing basis and continuously make adjustments.”

Break-even Metrics (Revenue and Units): Revenue, variable costs, fixed costs, net income (profit), and contribution margin are recorded on this worksheet. “This worksheet answers the question, ‘What’s my nut of fixed costs I have to overcome before I make a profit?’ It helps you see what margin you need to break even.”

Financing Metrics (Banker’s Ratios and Tools): This worksheet records net income; earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT); earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA); adjusted EBITDA; and total cash flow after debt service. It also calculates ratios between these figures. “These are what a banker looks at,” Shilts explained. “They are about mitigating risk.”

Throughout the seminar, Shilts offered some additional tips for recording key metrics and cutting paperwork.
First, he advised attendees to stamp out “Excel-itis.” “That is the biggest time-waster,” he said. To limit the time spent keying in data, take information electronically from propane software. Then, focus on the big picture. Having too much data is as bad as having too little data.

Second, Shilts advised propane marketers to never make operating decisions from the financial statements. “You want to measure everything in cents per gallon on a timely basis,” he said. “You won’t get that from a financial statement.”

Third, Shilts suggested that attendees focus on the big picture by looking at only three digits (representing thousands) on worksheets. For example, “444=444 thousand,” not “444,444.” He explained, “You don’t need that level of detail to make ‘30,000-foot’ decisions. You want to get the big picture, not see all the detailed numbers at once.”

In addition to his role at K & K Management Solutions, Mike Shilts is a consultant and public speaker. He offers seven presentations as well as custom presentations that share best practices for a variety of industry audiences. To get an Excel file that contains all these worksheets, plus a brochure about the presentations, send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with BPNews in the subject line. For more information, contact him at (517) 815-4052 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. — Steve Relyea

In Memorium: Charles Ory Mourned By Propane Industry

(October 14, 2019) — Charles (Charlie) Louis Ory passed away peacefully at his home in Mesa, Arizona, on October 3, 2019, with family by his side. He fought his cancer valiantly throughout the last year of his life and kept his sense of humor till the very end. His family is heartbroken at his loss but know that he is no longer in pain nor confined to watching endless westerns and political shows from his bed.

Charles Ory longtime propane industry leader passed away Oct 2019 reports BPN mag the LPG industry trusted source for news since 1939Charles was born on February 18, 1948, to Sterling and Lona Ory in Greenville, Mississippi. His family moved to New Orleans during his junior high years. Charlie met the love of his life, Teri, during his junior year at John McDonogh High School. After five years of being an item, they married on July 4, 1969.
 
Driving a Frito-Lay truck in the rainy, muggy New Orleans weather lost its appeal and Teri and Charlie moved to Mesa, Arizona, where he continued to work for Frito-Lay and she taught school.
 
Seeking a career change, Charlie found his way to the propane industry, working for several companies before joining his friend, Jeff, to become co-owner of Aero Propane. When economic times became challenging, they started separate companies and Charlie became sole owner of Family Propane. The highlight of his career was his involvement with the Arizona Propane Gas Association (APGA) and the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA). In 2015 NPGA selected Charlie to be the chairman of the association. Through APGA and NPGA he formed many friendships that he treasured throughout the last 20 plus years of his life.
 
While he loved his industry, his family was the most important part of his life. His sons Chuck and David are a testimony to the man he was. His daughters-in-law, Nicole and Maria, are the perfect women for his sons and he loved them dearly. Grandchildren, however, enriched his life the most. Amelia, Ellie, and Apollo were blessed with a grandpa beyond compare, and they meant the world to him.
 
Charlie is preceded in death by his parents, Lona and Stering Ory, his sister Shirley, and his brother Bobby, as well as his in-laws Mary and Irvin Trimmer, and their sons Ken and Allan Trimmer.
 
In addition to his wife Teri, their sons Chuck and David, his daughters-in-law Nicole and Maria, and those precious grandchildren Amelia, Ellie, and Apollo, Charlie is survived by his sisters-in-law Dawn Trimmer and Nancy Chalstrom, and his nephews Chris Trimmer and Todd Trimmer, and his nieces Kelle Ory and Linda Early Arseneau.
 
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, November 16, at 11:00 am, at Mariposa Gardens located at 6747 E. Broadway Road, Mesa, Arizona. The service will be followed by a reception at Mariposa Gardens.
 
The APGA has established a scholarship in Charlie's honor. Donations in Charlie’s name may be made online here or may be sent to the National Propane Gas Foundation Scholarship Fund: NPGF – Scholarship Fund, 1899 L Street N.W. Suite 350, Washington, D.C. 20036. Donations are tax-deductible.

Paraco Gas Invests In Recruitment For Service Techs and Drivers

(October 14, 2019) — Paraco Gas of Rye Brook, N.Y. is investing in new ways to recruit drivers and technicians as the industry faces challenges in attracting employees. Family-owned Paraco has introduced a new benefits package with some untraditional perks for those in the driving and service fields.
Paraco Propane recruitment program to attract LPG service techs and drivers into workforce w big benefits reports BPN mag oct 2019
The company offers parental leave for employees who have completed one year of service, tuition reimbursement, and a revised paid time-off policy. The benefits are part of a comprehensive benefits package that Paraco Gas offers full-time, regular employees and dependents, including, but not limited to, the traditional medical, dental, vision, 401K, flexible spending, life insurance, disability income, sick leave, and paid holidays.

“Our ultimate goal is to get customers their propane safely, but also focus on a best-in-class customer experience,” said Christina Armentano, executive vice president of sales and business development. “We’ve decided to think creatively on how to position the company to attract and retain the next generation of drivers and service technicians. We are now focusing on the employee experience, offering newer benefits that are more likely to entice and retain a healthy workforce.”

“As a first-time father, I am grateful Paraco gave me the opportunity to be home to care for my child and support my wife,” said Marcus Moore, a motor fuel and barbecue cylinder delivery driver at the company. “Parental leave is a great addition to Paraco’s benefits.”

In addition, Paraco is working to empower employees by offering a referral program to boost workforce numbers, and by providing an apprenticeship program for service technicians, which includes paying for classes and assigning a mentor throughout the training process.

“We recognize how important work/life balance and support for personal and professional growth have become with the younger generation, and we need to adapt to their needs if we want them to consider joining our family,” Armentano said. “We also recognize that the shortage of these skilled workers is not limited to our industry or geographic markets; it’s a nationwide problem, with fewer people entering these fields. So, we are investing in training people from the ground up. We don’t know many others in our industry—or similar industries—who are offering all of this, but I’m sure many will start to follow.”

(SOURCE: The Weekly Propane Newsletter, October 14, 2019. Available by subscription.)