Gas Logs: The Ambience Of A Wood Fire, Without Ash And Smoke

For homeowners who are interested in a fireplace primarily for the beauty and ambience it provides, propane gas logs are an attractive option. Gas logs are cleaner and more convenient than a wood fire and more affordable than a fireplace insert.
Covid pandemic makes comfort of Hearths and propane gas logs from RH Peterson more popular for home AMBIENCE reports BPN

“A better way to enjoy the beauty of a wood fire is with a gas log, vented or vent free,” says Jerry Scott, senior vice president of RH Peterson Co. (City of Industry, Calif.). RH Peterson has been manufacturing gas logs in southern California since 1949.

Gas logs are intended to be installed in an existing fireplace, replacing wood with ceramic objects in a variety of styles and a flame fueled by natural gas or propane.

Compared to wood, they are cleaner and more convenient. Gas logs eliminate the need to buy, store, and cut wood; are easy to operate, turning on and off with the flip of a switch; and burn with no ash or sparks. “When people switch from wood burning to gas logs, they use their fireplace more often,” Scott says. “Starting a wood fire is a project; with gas logs, you just push a button.”

They also burn cleaner, making them environmentally friendly. Gas logs eliminate virtually all the particulates and the toxic gases of a wood fire. In the parts of the country that have “no burn days,” gas products can be burned on those days. “I remember a time Denver declared a ‘no burn day’ on Christmas Eve,” Scott says. “Soon after that, we got a lot of calls asking about gas logs.”

Compared to gas fireplace inserts, gas logs are more affordable. An insert is two times or three times more expensive. Another difference is that vented gas logs do not heat the room as efficiently as an insert. As with a wood fireplace, most of the heat goes up the chimney. “If someone is looking for a heating product, they will want an insert or a vent-free gas log,” Scott explains. “If they want the aesthetics and emotional warmth that a fireplace adds to a home, a vented gas log is best.”

Some state and local codes do not allow vent-free gas logs; only vented ones. Installation of gas logs requires a fireplace that has gas service. If a fireplace doesn’t have that, a certified technician can put gas service in. Scott also says it is a good idea to get the chimney cleaned, to ensure there is no creosote, and inspected.

Gas logs see a spike in sales in the fall and winter, but because of their aesthetic value, they sell in the spring and summer, too. Gas logs are available in a variety of styles to suit different personal tastes. Options include realistic-looking logs and several contemporary alternatives like smooth stones, geometric shapes, and crystal-like pieces in brilliant colors. Different burners are available to create different flame effects. Remote controls allow the user to start and stop the fire and adjust the height of the flame.

In a showroom, the key to selling gas logs is to have a burning display. “People want to see them in action and the beauty is in the fire,” Scott notes. “We hand paint our gas logs to replicate the appearance of wood, but there is no substitute for fire.”

In addition to Real Fyre gas logs, RH Peterson Co. manufactures Fire Magic grills, American Outdoor Grills, and American Fyre Designs outdoor products. The company has found that all these appliances have become more and more popular during the stay-at-home protocols around COVID-19. Because people are spending more time there, they want to make their homes more comfortable.

“If a customer has shown an interest in gas logs,” Scott suggests, “always ask about outdoor fire features and grills too.” — Steve Relyea

Propane People "In The News"

Propane People Lisa Bell joins LT Corp Quality Steel 0820(August 3, 2020) — Lisa Bell has joined LT Corp. (Cleveland, Miss.), the parent company of Quality Steel, as vice president of Human Resources. She has more than 22 years of experience in the manufacturing industry and brings a very strong background in strategic and change management leadership experience to her new position. Bell will aid the company in driving results and meeting its corporate strategic aspirations, including continued growth.
Propane People Chad Pendill forms has forms Legacy Energy Consulting LPG firm 0820
Chad Pendill has formed Legacy Energy Consulting LLC (Albertville, Minn.), a firm offering consulting services to propane and heating oil marketers for mergers and acquisitions, as well as business valuation services, seller representation, and buyer representation. He also provides project management, consulting propane marketers on large-scale installations such as autogas dispensing systems and bulk plant and terminal installations. Pendill has 30 years of experience in the propane industry. Most recently, he directed the acquisition efforts for the second-largest propane marketer in the U.S.

The Missouri Propane Gas Association (MPGA) recently elected its officers and directors to serve on the board of directors for 2020-21. Association officers include Brian Brooks, Brooks Gas (Marshfield), president; Luke Fitzpatrick, MFA Oil (Wardsville), vice president; Mark Porth, CHS (Lawson) treasurer; Samantha Reed, Reed Oil (Doniphan), membership chair; and Derek Poe, Titan Propane (Branson), past president chair. Serving as directors for the coming term (senior listed first) are John Baucom, Prairieland FS (Liberty,Ill.), and Tom Stanturf, The People’s Coop (Trenton), Region 1;
Steve Jenkins, Jenkins Propane (Tina), and Kevin Salley, Salley’s Propane (Bates City), Region 2; Mikal Thornhill, All Weather Propane (Centralia), and Bill Jung, MFA (Gravois Mills), Region 3; Jason Bond, MFA Oil (Neosho), and Tim Peach, Titan Propane (Springfield), Region 4; Roger Hoff, Hoff Brothers (Perryville), and Mitch Dane, Titan Propane (Houston), Region 5.

Associate directors for the term include: Jared Ballard, Nixon and Lindstrom (Springfield); David Perkins, Dealers LP (Marshall); Brian Humphrey, InSite Platform Partners (St. Charles); and Ron Keeling, LPG Ventures (Kearney).

Of note: Incoming president Brian Brooks is the third generation from Brooks Gas and fourth family member to serve as MPGA president. Bill Brooks (grandfather) led the organization from 1976-77; Joe Brooks (father) from 1999-2000; and John Brooks (uncle) from 2010-11.

Also, MPGA marked its 75th anniversary on June 29, 2020. The organization was chartered on June 29, 1945, as the Missouri LP-Gas Association, originally located in Springfield, Mo.

BPN welcomes new Propane People In News and Michel Brideau of Otodata propane tank monitoring software June 2020
Propane People in the news Castillo joins Otodata propane software co 0620Michel Brideau has joined Otodata Tank Monitors (Montreal, Que.) as its production manager. With his extensive experience in the field of production and logistics, the company believes he will be key in putting several new initiatives in place as well as process improvements.

Another new addition to the Otodata team is Francisco Castillo. As product integrator, he will serve as a liaison between the Otodata sales team, R&D, production, and marketing departments to develop and launch new products.Castillo will also work with customers to plan proof of concept and initial deployments, ensuring flawless integration and a positive customer experience. 

The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) has added three new staff members to its business development and safety teams to grow uses and users of propane and improve our delivery of workforce training and consumer safety programs.

Gokul Vishwanathan has joined PERC as director of research and sustainability. He is a mechanical engineer in training and practice. His responsibilities include leading PERC initiatives to grow propane demand through research, technology development, and sustainability programs. He was formerly with Booz Allen Hamilton, where he supported the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) and the advanced manufacturing office of the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) as a technical adviser and subject matter expert in connected and automated vehicles, powertrain development, combined heat and power, thermal energy storage, and carbon capture technologies. Before that, he was a technical specialist at Cummins, leading medium-duty and heavy-duty diesel engine development work and developing novel fuel and air-path calibration mechanisms for diesel engines.

Matt McDonald joined the business development team as director of off-road business development, where he is responsible for supporting research and development and market outreach and training projects with a focus on new product development and commercialization in the off-road market. Prior to joining PERC, he worked at Ferrellgas Partners LP in Kansas City, Kan., where for more than five years he was general manager. He increased revenue by 15.5% over previous years and generated more than $6 million in cash flow. He also coordinated web and social media efforts that resulted in a higher rate of new customers and overall sales. McDonald also created targeted marketing programs that generated goodwill for Ferrellgas in a three-state area. Before Ferrellgas, he worked for ADT Security Services in Kansas City, Mo., first as operations manager and then as district sales manager.

Garrett Johnson has joined the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) as administrative assistant, where he will provide support for the safety, education, and compliance team, and assist with Learning Center help desk calls. Prior to PERC, he was executive assistant to the lead attorney at a law firm in Silver Spring, Md. In addition, he also supported the firm’s work in legal compliance and business development, tracked quality-control measures on cases for review by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the State Department, and handled client invoicing and firm expenses.
Kevin Wood Named new sales account manager at Proulx Oil & Propane reports BPN august 2020

Proulx Oil & Propane has promoted Mandee Anderson to customer service manager reports BPN July 2020Proulx Oil & Propane
(Newmarket, N.H.) has named Kevin Wood as sales/account manager. In this position, he will focus on further enhancing the company’s ability to offer customers expertise in the areas of both fueloil and propane systems equipment and appliances, to include new and additional equipment installations as well as system upgrades and conversions for home and business.

Mandee Anderson has been promoted to customer service manager at Proulx Oil & Propane. She began her career with Proulx in 2005 as part of Newmarket High School’s school to career/work program. Since that beginning, she has proven to be an important member of the Proulx team and has since completed her degree at Great Bay Community College. She has contributed to streamlining procedures that have improved the overall customer experience at Proulx. Her customer service skills and leadership by example benefit the company’s front-line team.

Propane People In News Porco Energy founder Joseph Anthony Porco Passed Away Memorium 082020Joseph Anthony Porco, 59, passed away on June 7. He operated Porco Energy in Marlboro and Wurtsboro, N.Y. with his brother Dominick. Porco Energy, founded in 1954 by their parents, Anthony and Lilian Porco, began as a Petrolane dealership before turning independent in the early 1970s. The brothers joined the company with greater responsibilities in the early 1980’s. Joe’s son Timmy, his daughter Nicole, and nephew Chris Scaturro joined a few decades later, taking on key roles in the firm. After nearly 65 years of successful business, the brothers chose to sell the company to Superior Energy in 2018. Joe remained with Superior Energy as a key business advisor for nearly a year and a half under an initial contract that he later renewed.
joe porco in memorium propane industry leader mourned reports BPN 07 2020
He served his company’s customers, the propane industry, and the New York Propane Gas Association (NYPGA) in nearly every way possible. He utilized his degree in accounting to begin serving on the NYPGA executive board as treasurer starting in 2002 which ultimately led to his NYPGA presidency, 2010 to 2012. Mr. Porco supported the financial needs of NYPGA Member Safety Programs with New York Propane Education and Research Council (NYPERC), first as a board member since 2012 and then chair from 2018 to 2020.

In 2018, he was also chosen to represent New York in a national capacity as the National Propane Gas Association state director to serve the interests of all New York propane marketers. It was said that. “At just 59 years, Joe Porco had been perhaps the youngest Elder Statesman in the aging propane industry for many years.”

He heightened community awareness and support for breast cancer research by painting his newly purchased bobtail pink, and later he developed a second bobtail for awareness and support of the Anderson School of Autism. He and his wife, Debbie, also co-founded Lucy The Rescue Dog Inc., a 501(c)(3), that provides financial assistance to pet families in emergency situations.

Request for Proposals: Fleet-Based Alternative fuel Deployments in Kansas/Missouri

(July 29, 2020) — The Kansas City Regional and Central Kansas Clean Cities Coalitions, programs of the Metropolitan Energy Center (MEC), have issued a Request For Proposals (RFP) to support the deployment of new alternative fueling vehicles and/or refueling stations for fleet-based deployments; and/or to build additional capacity into existing fleets alternative fueling infrastructure.
kc ck clean cities

The goal of Metropolitan Energy Center is to increase the use and acceptance of clean alternatives to gasoline and diesel, to leverage business and community relationships to make such investments possible, and to provide shared fueling arrangements as applicable to a specific fueling site or sites.  

MEC has allocated a maximum $1,014,377 in federal funding to support a minimum total project cost of $2,254,170. MEC anticipates making up to 4 awards. 

A grant from the US Department of Energy will provide up to 45% of funding for the purchase of propane autogas vehicles, and/or station equipment and installation costs by the successful applicant.

The deadline for submitting proposals to the Metropolitan Energy Center has been extended until August 14, 2020, at 2:00pm CST.

For more information, viist

Distributor Reacts To New Norms With Product Mix, Training

Reacting to the changing needs of customers has never been more important than it has been in the last few months. For a company whose customers are contractors, the pandemic has brought about changes in both the products that are selling and the ways product training must be delivered.
Covid-19 pandemic skyrocketing sales of propane indoor appliances and outdoor living products Hearth per REMichel reports BPN
“Our priorities go where the customers are; we run to what people want,” says Ray Kazakewich, national LPG manager at R.E. Michel Co. (Glen Burnie, Md.), a wholesale distributor serving professional contractors. “It seems every week, we have to react to different norms—not just in business, but in everything—and that certainly translates into our business.”

For one thing, he says, there has been a shift in demand of products. “The mix of products and inventory has been a little different. We’ve had to react.”

Among the indoor products handled by professional contractors, sales of space heaters, furnaces, and water heaters are up, while luxury products are down. “It’s human nature to go to the core during times of crisis,” Kazakewich says. “People strip things down to the essentials.”

Among the outdoor products, outdoor heaters and pyrotechnic design appliances such as tiki torches are up, driven by demand from commercial customers. Speaking from Maryland in early June, Kazakewich said restaurants were only allowed to seat people outdoors or sell them meals to go. As the weather was warming up, he said, “We don’t need outdoor heating now, but we did just last week.”

Another thing that has had to change due to the pandemic is the delivery of training. R.E. Michel Co. has moved its training online. That includes both its own employee training, in which the company’s own people are updated on regulatory and technical changes, and its customer training, which includes both regulatory changes and best practices. Customer training includes two types: the company’s own direct training to customers and training in which the company’s supplier partners deliver training to its customers on its behalf.

“We used to bring training to the customer, in person, but now that has gone to Zoom training and YouTube training,” Kazakewich reports. “We release a link to customers and they can tune in at their leisure. There’s not a set time; they can do it whenever they want.

“A lot of them are getting in the habit,” he adds. “We let them know what is available, and they go through it like a menu. The customers want variety, not a cookie-cutter approach. So, our training is customized to their needs. If customers have their own policies and procedures manual, which they do, our training has to align with that.”

New training is released in advance of the season for which it is needed. As a new season approaches, bringing with it demand for different products, R.E. Michel Co. puts out the word about training, promotions, and sales around the relevant products, 30 days before the customers will want those products.

“Our training changes as the season changes; it is relevant to what our customers are talking about,” Kazakewich says. “Right now, we are shifting gears to the inside of the house. From the end of June, hearth and primary heat are what go out the door.”

The pandemic has created opportunities for companies that are prepared to deal with the unexpected, when their competitors are not.

“It has been an interesting year,” Kazakewich concluded. “We always try to be proactive, not reactive, but we’re kind of forced into reacting now because things keep changing. But we are prepared; we expect the unexpected.” — Steve Relyea

Insurance Headlines: “Premiums Are Going Up”

By Frank Thompson… The email on June 10 from “Property and Casualty 360” ruined my day: Insurance “carriers are faced with claims related to cybersecurity, COVID-19, the riots and demonstrations, tornados, flooding, and the economy.”
Propane Insurance Premiums Scheduled to increase 2021 reports BPN 072720

What they were trying to tell their readers is simply that insurance premiums are going up. There is no more “soft” insurance marketplace where one could expect a reduction in premium from the prior year; in most cases, the insurance renewal premiums are going to increase substantially.

Let’s take a look at how each of the above perils is impacting the insurance industry.

COVID-19 hit, for most businesses, the middle of March. By the beginning of April, most states were in lockdown, with businesses required to either close their doors or have people work from home. Many businesses with property insurance carried a coverage called Business Income and Extra Expense. (I wrote about it in the May issue.)

In the article, I quoted the wording from most policies and suggested that COVID-19, a virus, probably would not trigger coverage. However, if a marketer felt that they had a claim, they should turn any potential claim in to their insurance company and let them decide if they are going to pay the claim.
While that is good advice based on the policy wording, the problem is that thousands of lawsuits have been filed against the insurance companies, alleging that there is coverage. The result is expensive litigation, no matter what the courts decide.

With businesses forced to have people working from home because of the virus, internet security breaches have risen over 40% since April. The tremendous rise in cybercrimes is costing everyone, including those that have purchased cyber liability.

A cyber breach means that business owners already stretched financially due to the lockdown are forced to spend time and resources to fix the breach and mitigate the damages. While some of them may have bought Cyber Liability, the result may well be a costly claim for the insurance company as well as wasted time and resources by the business owner trying to fix problems caused by the breach.

In the middle of the COVID-19 crisis, we have experienced human tragedy. Trying to remedy the problems has led to demonstrations, some of which have turned violent and led to burning and looting. Insurance policies generally cover riots, civil commotion, and vandalism, but the resulting claims impact the insurance companies’ bottom line.

The other peril covered under the property policy is tornados. I was reminded of that on May 16, when a client called us in shock, saying, “My building is gone. There is nothing left but the concrete slab.” I was glad he and his family were all okay, but his building was gone. We were happy that we had the coverage to help him rebuild. However, these weather-related disasters also negatively affect the insurance companies.

Looking a little further, the COVID-19 virus and subsequent closing of business has meant that over 30 million small businesses were forced to close in April and May. Many of them will never reopen. This has drastically affected the entire economy, putting millions out of work and causing a massive ripple effect that has hurt everyone, including the insurance industry.

Reading the news and talking to friends in the insurance business, I am told that many insurance agencies that insure small and middle market commercial business have lost from 30% to 70% of that business. Following the progression further, the loss of that business has negatively impacted insurance companies. Business owners are unable to pay their insurance premiums, and in many cases have had to cancel all their coverage, with no hope of restarting.

The net result for propane marketers and other essential businesses is, where once pricing was based primarily on the individual marketer’s loss ratio, now the biggest criteria for pricing is the worldwide pandemic and its repercussions; economic and social unrest; the weather; and the courts’ decisions.
We wish everyone continued good health and wisdom as we all face the future.

Frank B. Thompson is a chartered property and casualty underwriter based in Phoenix. He is the owner of PT Risk Management, an independent insurance company specializing in writing propane and petroleum risk policies throughout the U.S.