Former Exxon Employee Devotes Life To Sharing Memorable Safety Story

August 2, 1980, started as an ordinary day for former Exxon employee Charlie Morecraft. Work procedures he had performed more than a thousand times had become routine and he, like many industrial employees, had become lax about wearing his protective glasses. He also had his fire-retardant shirtsleeves rolled up, exposing his arms. “Your readers will be able to relate to this,” Morecraft told BPN. (At the time of the interview, he was scheduled to speak at the 2020 Mid-States Propane Expo. Later, due to COVID-19, that event was rescheduled to July 25-29, 2021.) “Butane and propane were both involved in my accident. Those and seven other products go into the makeup of gasoline and I controlled the flow of the various products into the gasoline. On this day, I was changing out a hammer blank on a manifold, a routine job involving relieving excess chemical between pipelines.” Unfortunately, on this day, leaking valves resulted in him being covered in liquid and vapors. While making his way to a safety shower, he had forgotten that he had left his truck running, and as he passed it, the chemical vapors traveled to the truck, which exploded and engulfed him and the refinery in flames.
Former Exxon Employee Charlie Morecraft shares his 3rd degree burn safety story to help better educate propane industry professionals reports BPN

“What followed was five years in and out of the hospital with third-degree burns over 50% of my body,” Morecraft said. “I had over 50 orthopedic and plastic surgeries and other medical treatments. I still have surgeries and medical procedures to this day.” He soon came to learn the toll from the accident would not only affect him in an extremely negative way, but that there would be a toll on his entire family, a situation he came to regret even more than the painful burns on his body. As the years passed, alcoholism, depression, two suicide attempts, and a divorce were all challenges he faced in his life. “It was all my fault,” he said. “In addition, I feel responsible for challenges my daughters faced in their lives with alcohol and drugs. For those five years I was in and out of the hospital so much, I was not much of an authority figure in their young lives.” Sadly, years later, in October 2013, one of his daughters died of bronchitis after seven years of sobriety. “Her body was too damaged at that point to fight it off.” Morecraft remains haunted by the question of whether his daughter would be alive today if he had not suffered the accident back at Exxon in 1980.

A DECISION TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Nearly seven years had passed since the accident and Morecraft was back to work at Exxon in a new role as a union safety coordinator. Having been through all that he had, he was often irritated by the employees who slept through safety meetings and took the same lax attitude toward protective safety glasses and clothing that he once did. “One day, I was frustrated with three guys who just refused to wear their safety helmets,” he said. “Instead of my usual admonishments that were clearly not working with these guys, I was very frustrated. And one of the guys snapped back at me, ‘Charlie, you never gave a damn about safety and you don’t today!’” At that point, I was mad and had those three guys sit down and I told them my entire story of the accident—the horrors of the screaming in the hospital by all of the burn victims going through excruciating pain, the depression, the alcoholism, the effects of the entire experience on my wife and daughters, including the drug and alcohol abuse of my daughters.” After the story, all three of the employees walked away wearing their safety helmets. He will always remember that one of the employees, Eddie, turned around and said, “Charlie, you ought to tell that story to everybody!”

That night, after telling his story to the three employees, was the first night he slept through the night without a nightmare. “I think that after the endless trauma of the accident and everything that followed in the fallout, I felt a sense of purpose that my story had an impact on these employees,” he said. “This began a next phase of my life that continues to this day—sharing my story to change a culture of machoism and neglect.” After disappearing for a few days, Morecraft found himself at Yosemite National Park. In awe of the view at Glacier Point, he cried and reflected on how he could move forward, taking responsibility for his own life while helping to guide others to take responsibility for their lives.

TAKING A POWERFUL STORY TO THE MASSES
The decision to make a difference changed life dramatically for Morecraft. He has traveled throughout the United States and the world speaking to audiences of all sizes. “I’ve been to Russia, Kuwait, and throughout the Middle East,” he said. “I’ve been to Siberia, Europe, and many, many more countries. Despite all the stark differences in culture, religious belief, and way of life, all people have some universal characteristics. They want to come home from work, watch TV, have a beverage, and enjoy life with their family.” With his video now available in 38 languages, Morecraft believes his message of taking safety seriously for the good of the entire family resonates with his audiences. “Who has ever changed their behaviors because someone gave them a ‘Work Safe’ T-shirt?” he asked. “And believe me, they don’t care what their CEO says or thinks. But, a story about the devastating effects of being severely burned and the effects this can have on their family gets their attention.

“I have had over 200 grown men, big macho men, faint during my presentation over the years,” Morecraft said. “Children and women actually hold up better than the men, and I believe it is because the men are often more likely to be working in these industrial situations and ignoring the safety protocol. I’ve had men tell me they relate because they see themselves in my position, but the accident simply has not happened yet. They are overcome by the sense that they are vulnerable unless they make a change and make it now!”

While Morecraft always tells the story of the accident, another account from his first year on the job is also frequently told. This one is about a major ammonia leak that caused him to put on respiratory equipment. “What are you doing? Going swimming?” a superior asked. Morecraft took off the respiratory equipment and joined the others who went to take care of the leak without safety wear. “The whole way back, we held our breath while inhaling fumes. It caused me to gag and vomit,” he said. The superior simply said, “Good job, kid.” Morecraft tells this story to illustrate the peer pressure that often exists to neglect safety protocol. “Honestly, I didn’t wear the safety glasses because I didn’t think I looked good or cool wearing them. I worried what others thought,” he said. “That set me up for a life of horrible problems, and for what? Concern that I wouldn’t look cool enough in safety glasses!”

“WHAT MAKES YOU THINK YOU ARE DIFFERENT?”
A frequent question Morecraft asks in his presentation is, “What makes you think you are different?” He believes that everyone who fails to wear the protective gear, takes shortcuts around safety rules, or flat out ignores safety guidelines is setting themselves up for an accident like his. “What makes you think you are different?” he asks his audience. “Why is this never going to happen to you?” He tells his audiences about the details of treatments that are severely painful. “There is a process of peeling off dead skin so that there is a fresh, clean area for skin grafts,” he said. “When you come out of the tank, the air hits nerve endings and causes an excruciating level of pain. I grew up a tough kid who never thought he would scream or cry. That all changed fast with burn treatments. It is horrible to go through it. I used to try to strategically time my morphine treatments to cause the least pain, but it was always terribly painful. It was painful to hear others scream as well.” Morecraft wants people to know the horrors they could face by taking risks. This then ties to the story that he considers worse: the story of how his family was affected.

In addition to speaking to large groups, Morecraft has been a frequent visitor to burn treatment facilities to offer moral support to others going through what he has gone through. “It never gets easier. For these people, they think their lives are ruined,” he said. “Young women and young men think they will never be attractive to the opposite sex again. Life as they know it is over. There is so much they are not sure they will be able to ever do again. I can relate, having been through this.”

ACCIDENTS HAPPEN IN MANY FORMS, AT WORK AND HOME
Morecraft points out that accidents he talks about are not all like his. “My accident is just my story. Accidents can happen at work, during travel, at home, and about anywhere else,” he explained. “I talk to young people about using cell phones and texting while driving. So many young lives are lost each year and for what? A message that can always wait just a few more minutes.” He points out that young people often think they are invincible and that no injury or death will come to them. He has counseled families of burn victims. “Accidents in the home are often the worst. Children often get burned due to the negligence of the parents. I’ve seen incidents where a parent feels so guilty over the painful injury or death of a child that they later commit suicide.”

“There are many injuries that take place in the home because people misjudge the power of fuel,” Morecraft said. “Even turning on a gas grill can sometimes get people caught in the flash during ignition. Smoking near an ignition source is a big mistake too many people make. Having ignition sources too close to tiki torches at a party can cause a tragedy. Cannisters with a small leak can cause vapors to escape from a hole. Abusing tanks in any way, like letting them bounce around too much in a truck, can cause an explosion. These are just some key negligent mistakes that end up causing serious injuries and death.”

Today, Morecraft is remarried and semiretired. “I still go talk to groups about twice a month,” he said. With much of the country grounded by the coronavirus as he spoke with BPN, he pointed out that taking the precautions experts recommend is one more important step in daily life. “Washing your hands, social distancing, staying at home—all of the recommendations are so important,” he said. “I’m getting close to the age group that is least likely to survive this virus.” As a member of the board of directors of Vets Helping Heroes, he also has worked to raise money to provide service dogs for veterans who need them. There are dogs that simply provide comforts, dogs that can detect an imminent seizure with 10 minutes’ notice, and seeing-eye dogs for the visually impaired.

Morecraft deeply regrets the August 1980 accident that caused so much physical and emotional pain, but he is pleased that his decision to make a difference in the lives of others has been so successful. “I can tell people to put on safety glasses, gloves, and flame-retardant wear; I can tell them to follow all sorts of safety guidelines, but people are naturally resistant to being given orders to do something they don’t want to do,” he said. “So, instead, I tell them my story and sincerely express my concern for their well-being and the well-being of their family. That message seems to resonate much better to make people take safety precautions seriously. I call my session ‘Remember Charlie,’ but not so they will remember me personally; I want them to remember what happened to me and take action to not let a similar incident happen to them!” — Pat Thornton

Mobilizing Propane

By Joe Colaneri… The coronavirus presents America and the world with the challenge of a generation. It will test our health, our economy, our communities, our national character, our collective will. And propane, one of America’s oldest and greatest industries, deeply embedded in the character of America, is poised to help lead the nation on the journey we will be taking together. Propane’s leadership will reflect America’s strength, indomitable spirit, sense of community—its resilience.

Public policy expert JOE COLANERI advises propane industry to build strong rural coalitions and government partnerships to successfully navigate coronavirus pandemic reports BPN
THE CHALLENGE
Long before the coronavirus began to dominate our lives, our very existence, the propane industry had begun facing its own existential threats with California being ground zero. The emergence of policies and regulations favoring electric vehicles and compromising propane’s historic markets had begun. Those trends are accelerating exponentially on the west coast and are moving east. When the state of Hawaii considers a carbon tax in the current legislative session that taxes propane at a higher rate than it taxes diesel and gasoline, the wheels have come off, it’s a whole new ballgame. The propane industry needs to take notice and mobilize. Inevitably these trends will go national in the absence of a well-coordinated, well-messaged opposing strategy.

MOBILIZATION
The propane industry has formidable and imaginative tools with which to communicate, develop, organize, and execute—reflective of its entrepreneurial spirit. Those skills are needed now. The industry has long built a grassroots network where it can get the biggest bang for the industry’s buck. But it needs to engage within its core constituencies in rural America, not only for legislative and regulatory relief, but to build relationships and partnerships.

The economy will recover, but it may not resemble the one we are leaving behind. The industry’s foresight in developing a strong grassroots constituency, and the resources of PERC, may give propane the momentum to help shape a new industry powered by traditional and new constituencies.

BUILDING THE PROPANE POLICY INFRASTRUCTURE OF TOMORROW
Sustaining and growing the propane industry in a world turned upside down and facing significant societal change will require the propane industry to think introspectively and act prospectively and aggressively. It will need to learn from the past while it channels the future.

Job one for the industry should include an evaluation of all political and policy relationships that it can work with to build value. New industry leadership at NPGA provides a window to begin to build industry value through policy, but windows don’t stay open for long. The competition is doing the same thing. The industry constituency is historically rural, so the political build-out can start there. But its challenges are not only rural, they are at the state, regional, and national levels as well. California, for example, is moving aggressively against all carbon fuels, so the industry’s response needs to acknowledge that reality and work toward strategies that will reflect reality and not a fanciful notion of what once was. The trends in California will not be reversed. If anything, they will only become more challenging.

Propane Public Policy expert Joe Colanari tells BPN what propane industry must do to create rural and federal Partnerships during Coronavirus pandemic to secure future of LPG post-pandemic
Propane needs strong allies in Congress—it needs leaders who will take up the propane cause—allies who link their political success to propane’s business success. The most successful industries on Capitol Hill have built strong working relationships with members of Congress for years. What propane does not need are so-called “photo op allies” who pander for the industry’s political contributions, but care little for the industry’s issues or its constituency. Logically, propane could build its allies within its core constituency in rural America, but, as noted, the industry’s challenges are not only rural, they are increasingly at the state, regional, and national levels. Thus, the challenge is more complex now than it might have been even a few years ago. What is a need now is a grassroots mobilization—think of Propane Days on steroids—a year-round effort in the district, state, and federal level.

MARKETS ARE THE MESSAGE
Propane needs a long-term strategy to counter the increasing challenges at the state level while building momentum for regional and nationally focused initiatives. The message can center around the markets being pursued by the industry, which suggests resilience, renewable propane, and partnerships with other technologies. This is reflective of increasing policy trends, which often begin at the state level and go national.

Employing a classic grassroots strategy could involve working initially in select states to pursue the inclusion of propane in state clean energy legislation. California, ground zero for the anti-carbon movement, is a logical choice, but other states could provide opportunities in which to examine and test the viability of new propane markets involving renewable propane, resilience, and hybrid gensets as a counterpoint against the move toward electric. The idea would also involve a strategy that underpins the grassroots with strategic communications, public education, and advocacy. The markets would become the message. In this example, NPGA and PERC complement each other in juxtaposing advocacy with education and market development with communications.

PARTNERSHIPS ARE THE CATALYST
The world is adjusting to a new economic reality grounded in societal resilience and decentralization. That’s the view from 30,000 feet. The coronavirus may have changed forever the way we conduct business and live our lives.

What may hold this transition together is the ability of the industry to find common cause with stakeholders and partners who share a similar vision in building and helping implement new societal economic paradigms.

Perhaps an example will best illustrate the apparent transition and the political and economic urgency to form partnerships.

PROJECT SIMULATION
Consider the growing national trend toward energy resilience and how the propane industry might implement a resilience strategy in a unique regionally specific area.

A national resilience initiative for propane could build replicable local, regional, and national resilience propane power generation applications, tailored specifically to respond to disasters and electric utility grid infrastructure power shutdowns that would provide currently unmet market opportunities for propane hybrid genset and power generation technologies in California and across the country. Such an effort would involve the development of strategic public and private partnerships and would capitalize on propane’s low emissions and clean energy potential. Primary goals would be to showcase propane’s regional adaptability and versatility in preparedness and response to natural and man-made disasters as clean energy, low-emitting, renewably-fueled hybrid electrical power generating systems capable of backing up and sustaining other renewable and non-renewable energy systems over a wide geographic area and across constituencies and markets.

Propane punches all the tickets—in its ability to be renewable, build hybrid systems with solar and electric technology, and deliver resilience to schools, hospitals, construction, agriculture, state and local government, the federal government, and numerous public and private economic sectors.

In late 2018, Congress passed the FAA Authorization bill, launching a national conversation on methods and technologies to improve local and regional energy and power resilience and sustainability. California is specifically noted for wildland fire response and preparedness funding given the ongoing grid failures that have increasingly resulted from large-scale, devasting fires linked to climate change, earthquakes, and other natural disasters. However, the bill’s funding also has national intent. As with PERC projects, projects receiving FAA or other federal funding are intended to provide a template for replicable projects capable of adapting to a broad array of resilience preparedness, response, or infrastructure-hardening requirements.

Our theoretical case study punches the right political and programmatic tickets and sets up long-term partnerships with disparate stakeholders moving in a common cause: state and local government; the federal government; electric vehicles; possible users of propane systems from school districts to hospitals and other health care providers, to construction and materials handling, to agriculture, and can function in a world of rural decentralization where propane is the dominant and preferred non-electrical energy source. Our theoretical project is both public and private, intrastate and interstate, touches all levels of government with industry crossover, and is based on consensus and coalition.

RESILIENCE AND RENEWABLE ARE THE FUTURE
Society has been moving toward a resilient, decentralized, internet-driven world for some time. It took the coronavirus to accelerate the apparent trends. These trends may forever shape the way we live, how we use energy, and how we conduct business. It will force us to examine many life-altering alternatives. The industries that seize these trends will be the sustainable ones. The others will fade into history—not overnight, but inevitably. People will be looking for clean energy, but also for the energy sources that are capable of evolving and adapting to societal needs—capable of meeting the needs of both natural and manmade disaster and health crisis—capable of providing the power we need when we need it—as we move toward greater a more decentralized world in the workplace and at home.

The propane industry has the chance to build on its natural constituencies, but it needs to mobilize to be able to seize these apparent and inevitable societal, energy, and business trends.

Its markets will provide its message; its partnerships will move those markets; its apparent and essential resilience will fuel its future.

Joe Colaneri is a partner at AJW Inc., a Washington, D.C.- and Sacramento, Calif.-based public policy and advocacy firm. He was previously executive director of the Propane Vehicle Council from 1996-2002.

Generators Require A Complete Package Of Products, Services

There has been a surge of interest in propane-fueled standby generators as the price has decreased, consumer awareness has increased, and more homeowners have experienced electrical power outages. To ensure these new customers are satisfied with their purchase in the long run, they should be made aware that the generator is part of a complete package of products and services.
Propane Generators surge in sales as standby generators price decreases reports BPN the propane industrys leading source for news since 1939
“Some of the people who have been jumping into the standby generator business focus on the sale of the generator and say, ‘You’ll never notice a loss of electricity. It will be easy. Sign here,’” says Josh Simpson, vice president of marketing with Kamps Propane (Manteca, Calif.). “But the conversation should include, ‘Let’s find you a fuel supplier and make sure you understand what they can and can’t do; if your location allows a large enough tank to supply fuel to the generator for a long enough time; and if you will receive deliveries in the amount and time you need to keep fueled.’”

“This is critical,” says Armistead Mauck, vice president with Cherry Energy (Kinston, N.C.). “Propane is the fuel cell and the generator simply converts it to electricity. Propane is the genesis of the entire solution.”

Putting together the complete package requires input from the retailer selling the generator, a licensed electrician, and a propane marketer—before the product is sold. Each component of the package should be understood by the consumer before the sale is made. Only then can the consumer make an informed decision that will result in a standby generator and associated equipment that are reliable, deliver the results the consumer expects, and ensure long-term satisfaction.

“We want to participate from the beginning so we can set expectations and have a conversation with the consumer about all the equipment that is required,” Simpson says. “A propane generator is an ideal option, but the sellers have an obligation to guide the customer through the proper sales process so that they are satisfied with their purchase.”

The Complete Package
Simpson, Mauck, and representatives of three manufacturers of standby generators shared with BPN their tips for selling and maintaining standby generators in a way that will ensure the product meets, and even exceeds, the customer’s expectations.

Propane standby Generator sales surge due to lower cost, more frequent electrical outages says Briggs & Stratton rep to BPN the leading trade publication since 1939
Get involved in the process. Propane marketers can position themselves to be part of the process, right from the beginning. They can reach out to local dealers and electrical contractors and ask that they be included, before the sale. Then, as a team, they can promote generators, and one can install the unit and another will coordinate the tank and piping. “Propane marketers can work with an electrical contractor to do the other half of a generator installation,” says Sandoval da Silva, senior director of marketing and international sales, Briggs & Stratton Global Standby and Job Site Products Group. “It’s another application propane marketers can promote. We can provide sell sheets and other collateral assets.”
LPG standby Generator sales surge reports Kohler Power due to price reductions frequent power outages to BPN propane industry leading trade publication since 1939

Bring others into the process.
If a consumer comes to the propane marketer first, asking about standby generators, the marketer can bring the other professionals into that conversation. “Touch base with a manufacturer,” suggests Melanie Tydrich, senior channel manager, Kohler. “We make sure we have dealers and installers in place to take care of the customer. They will work with the customer to determine the size of the unit, whether they want to run the whole house or only desire to power a few select items, and then do the installation.”
 
Recommend retailers and installers that are local. A surge of interest in standby generators from residents of California has “created a gold rush for fly-by-night operators who are attempting to cash in on the demand,” Simpson reports. He explains that outsiders come into the state’s rural communities and try to close the sale on the first meeting, without the propane marketer being involved. This creates scenarios in which the fuel situation may not meet the customer’s expectations. “We encourage residents to do business with local suppliers,” Simpson says. “We work with local electricians and do this as a coordinated process, because they know us and we know them.”

Develop a one-stop shop. Propane marketers need to be the comprehensive solution provider. When customers buy a generator from a propane marketer, they will later call the company when the unit requires service. Cherry Energy sells generators and provides the fuel, and has preferred electricians it works with to provide installation. “Propane marketers need to give the process ‘one-button’ simplicity,” Mauck says. “The entire installation process needs to be orchestrated before the consumer walks in the door. They want a solution and not part of a solution.”

Propane Standby Generator sales surge among homeowners due to increased electrical outages, lower cost to install reports leading voice of LPG industry BPN magazine
Offer a service contract. Both the electrical contractor and the propane marketer can provide a maintenance contract to ensure the standby generator works when needed. “There are additional revenue opportunities once the generator is installed,” says Jake Thomas, director of global service operations, Generac Power Systems. “Everyone should have a yearly maintenance contract. That will provide recurring revenue over the life of the generator.”

 
Maintain the generator. “This is probably the No. 1 area needing improvement,” Mauck says. “Marketers need to train techs to properly maintain this equipment.” Cherry Energy is working with a community college to develop training for technicians. The college has installed three Generac units in its Energy Distribution Lab for hands-on training. Mauck added that today’s monitoring solutions mean customers don’t have to make the call for service, because their generator or hot water heater will. Just as with forecasted deliveries of propane, the customer can entrust the propane marketer with servicing the generator. “Marketers need to exploit available technology like Generac’s Mobile Link web-based monitoring,” Mauck says. “This type of solution makes the marketer look like a true professional, reporting service intervals and unit status. Nothing is worse than the generator that is ignored until it is needed and then does not work.”

Specify the right size tank. “As a propane supplier, we want them to have a tank large enough for a seven-day [fuel supply for] the generator,” says Simpson. “If they call and say they need propane in the next few days, we want to deliver enough for a week.”

Use tank monitors. The availability of tank monitors has increased the ability of standby generator owners and service providers to keep an eye on the fuel supply. “We partner with Tank Utility,” says Jake Thomas of Generac. “We promote that to the consumer so that the consumer can know if they have fuel.”
Propane standby generator sales surge says Cherry Propane owner due to lower price frequent power outages reports leading LPG trade publication may 2020

Sell other propane appliances.
When customers have more propane appliances, they enjoy many benefits. For one, they can eliminate the tank rent they would pay on a generator tank. Cherry Energy offers generator tanks, but suggests adding appliances that will consume more propane and eliminate that charge. “You can pay tank rent for when you do need it, or we can provide a better solution that will save you money and provide a better experience,” Mauck says. Customers will also enjoy the efficiencies and comfort provided by a gas dryer, cooktop, water heater, and space heater. With a gas grill fueled by a tank, they won’t have to run to a convenience store to trade a 20-lb. cylinder. A third benefit is, they can reduce the electrical load of their home. This allows them to buy a smaller, less expensive generator. “We tell the customer, ‘Let’s get your generator as small as it can be,’” Mauck says. “We can do that by getting as many propane appliances as we can.”

Communicate proactively. “Watch the news and the weather and be proactive,” Thomas suggests. “If a power shutdown or a hurricane is on the way, reach out to consumers and ask if they want you to fill up their tank. It’s better to have an incremental sale now than an emergency call later.” Conversely, train consumers to be proactive, too; ask them to let you know when they add equipment, like a generator, that will increase their consumption of propane.

Manage expectations. “Before they buy, consumers should initiate a conversation with a fuel supplier to see if its fueling capabilities meet their expectations for the generator,” says Simpson. “People see standby generators as an insurance policy against the loss of electricity, so they need a continuous supply of fuel. The challenge is to make sure the customer understands how much fuel they need, where they will get it, and under what terms. The propane marketer’s service is key to customer satisfaction.”

Have your own standby power.
Cherry Energy’s bulk plant and its main office are equipped with standby generators. When the power is out, that means they can keep servicing customers. When the power is not out, they are setting an example for customers to follow, by being prepared. “Marketers need to position their own operations with standby power so they can load trucks during times of natural disasters,” Mauck says. “This needs to be the example that convinces the customer that we prescribe ourselves the same medicine. Otherwise, the customer will say, ‘If you don’t have a generator, why would I buy one?’”
Propane Generator sales surge says Josh Simpson of Kamps propane due to lower cost more frequent power outages reports BPN leading trade publication since 1939

Be prepared to say no.
If a potential customer doesn’t fit the propane marketer’s business model, or cannot be supplied in a way that will meet the expectations they have for their generator, the marketer should have an answer prepared. Simpson explains that Kamps Propane’s service fee for putting in a tank is associated with a certain throughput. If all the other appliances in a home are powered by electricity, and there is no loss of electricity during the year, they will not use enough propane. “We can’t afford to deploy our tanks for customers who will not consume fuel,” he notes. “We train our people how to talk about this, especially when the answer is no, so they can communicate why.”

Growing Demand
The demand for standby generators has been increasing nationwide, the three aforementioned manufacturers reported. Demand has surged in California, a state where there was little demand previously. Growth is seen in states that already had been good markets.

One reason is the increasing number of power outages. “Sales have been driven by storms and generalized power outages in the Southeast, and fires and planned shutoffs in California,” da Silva says. “That is new; California hasn’t traditionally been a market.”

Another is rising product awareness. “Not so long ago, people didn’t know standby generators existed,” Thomas says. “Now, through word of mouth, they know.”

A third reason is falling prices. “Across the board, costs have decreased compared to 10 years ago,” Tydrich says. She attributes that to the economy of scale, due to the increasing sales, as well as new manufacturing techniques.

“We are in a new era,” Mauck says. “We have the threat of loss of power due to the fickle power grid, natural disasters, or terrorist acts. Here in North Carolina, we are in the hurricane belt, and we have had times when we’ve gone two or three weeks without power. The generator is a large part of the energy independence equation.”

Also boosting the appeal of standby generators is the availability of monitoring and power management.

Briggs & Stratton’s InfoHub wireless generator monitoring can send the customer alerts about generator status and maintenance reminders. It can also send maintenance alerts to the service dealer. “Once a week, the generator turns itself on to perform a diagnostic and then shuts itself off, so you know it will perform when needed,” da Silva explains. “That can be monitored. It provides peace of mind for the customer and the installer.”

Kohler’s OnCue Generator Management System lets the customer know that the generator is working and that it’s ready when needed. “You can check from your phone or computer to see if there have been any events and you can receive alerts if the generator turns on or if anything goes wrong,” Tydrich says. “Your service provider will be notified, too.”


Generac’s Mobile Link provides current operating status, maintenance schedule, and other information. “We send a message regarding maintenance or faults,” Thomas says. “We provide proactive notification of problems.”

Another available feature is power management. This enables customers to specify which appliances they want the generator to power during an outage, and which are less important. That way, a smaller, less expensive generator can be used, while still powering the appliances they want.

Generac’s Smart Management Modules manage power loads and help lower installation costs. “Smart Management Modules manage what power goes to what appliance,” Thomas explains. “It can turn off one to power another. This allows the customer to reduce the size of the generator and cut the acquisition cost in half. It’s invisible to the consumer; it will seem like whole-house coverage.”

Kohler offers a Load Shed Kit that allows the use of a smaller generator set. “Load shedding prioritizes circuits, and turns off less critical items automatically when more essential appliances are running,” Tydrich explains. “The customer can also work with a professional and decide if they want to run the whole house or if they only care about a few select items.”

Briggs & Stratton offers its Symphony II Power Management System and says it lets the customer purchase a smaller, more affordable home generator system while maintaining the comfort of whole-house backup power. “The customer can specify, ‘I want these things to work, but not the air conditioning.’ It automatically decides what to power based on the priorities you set,” da Silva says.

The propane retailer or electrical contractor should present these options to the consumer before the purchase. That way, the consumer will know what to expect. This is another part of the complete package required for a standby generator.

“We need coordination. This has ramped up so quickly, the participants need to work together,” Simpson concludes. “We want to provide a solution that will meet the consumer’s goals. We want to help them and make them feel that their local propane supplier is a source of great comfort and security.” — Steve Relyea

A New Brand of Business Consulting

(May 21, 2020) New Hampshire – After more than 15 years in the energy industry, Amanda Bacon launches Savvi Strategies, a consulting firm helping small and middle market businesses dramatically improve their marketing and public relations activities, and showing them how to transform their company culture into a strong, competitive advantage.

Amanda Bacon Headshot 03.05.2020
Bacon is well-revered in the propane industry for helping several companies achieve award-winning success. She has led entire organizations, as well as sales, marketing, and public relations teams.

Joe Rose, Goodwill Ambassador at Lin’s Propane Trucks and long-time propane advocate says, “One of the greatest things about the energy industry is that most companies are local and family-owned. Amanda recognizes that their brand is something they take great pride in, and it is one of the few things they can control. Unfortunately, a company’s brand is what’s most front and center with customers, and yet, it generally receives the least amount of attention.” Rose adds, “Amanda’s firm knows how to work with companies to build a strategy that is realistic, without overwhelming them.”

“Our biggest differentiator is that we do not work for our client’s competition*. This is critical in an industry where most companies are selling the same products and services,” says Bacon. “We are not a cookie cutter company. We know that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work, so we customize everything for our clients. That way, the work we do for them will not look or sound the same as the work done for anyone else.”

A new service that Bacon is bringing to the industry focuses on modernizing a company’s culture. Bacon says, “The reality is, this is a stale industry, and we need to make fast advances in how we interact with the next generation of employees and customers. This means modernizing the culture of your organization for today and the future, to better compete and win.”

Lisa Kunzler, a former employee of Bacon says, “What Amanda immediately did for the culture of our company was astounding. All of the sudden our entire team had a new energy, focus, and drive. We became a real team with a clear purpose and specific goals. For us, this resulted in happier employees with significant productivity gains and higher profits.

Bacon adds, “While working with Lisa and the rest of the team, we had the most successful year in the company’s history, by putting employees first. There is zero doubt that those results had everything to do with the culture we all created. I am not only proud to show my clients how this can easily happen in their company; I can guarantee it will change the course of their business for the better.”

About Savvi Strategies
Savvi Strategies was founded in 2020 by Amanda Bacon. They offer no-charge consultations, and their tailored consulting engagements are all billed by project (or flat-rate fees) with no monthly retainers, or unpredictable hourly charges. You will never see a project management, administrative, middle-man, or hidden fee, and they never markup work that is outsourced to their strategic vendor partners.

Amanda Bacon, founder of Savvi Strategies has been named a Rising Leader in the Propane Industry by LP Gas Magazine, and still remains actively engaged in the Propane Gas Association of New England (PGANE), working as the co-chair of the Workforce Development Committee and Women in Propane. Her influential approach has led her to speak nationally, regionally, and locally about leading the next generation while being mindful of generational gaps, forward thinking marketing trends, and corporate motivational well-being. Visit SavviStrategies.com for more information.

Women In Propane: Coming Of Age In Her Second Act

Lynn Rozmus’ career trek is a second act and coming age of story combined. Training director within the office and office manager for Superior Plus Propane in Oak Ridge, N.J., she is embracing new opportunities for growth as the result of multiple company acquisitions within the past few years.

BPN presents Women In Propane profile of Lynn Rozmus who comes of age in her second act as manager at Superior Plus Propane in New Jersey March 2020
Her zest for learning and natural inclination to help others has not gone unnoticed. Rozmus was recently named Manager of the Year by the New Jersey Propane Gas Association. The award recognizes her problem-spotting and -solving abilities, leadership skills, and compassion for employees and customers.

“I will say my career has not been strategic at all. I did open up my thinking,” Rozmus said. “When you’re sold, you can feel a little uneasy. I’m a positive person, and said at the time [of acquisition], ‘Oh, what can I do here?’

“I probably wouldn’t have grown as much if the dynamics hadn’t allowed me to do so. I was fine where I was,” she said referring to her role prior to Superior Plus Propane’s acquisition of Eastern Propane in July 2018. “I feel valued. Not that I wasn’t before, but I feel very happy where I am now.”

In the early '80s, she began working at Eastern Propane in the shipping and receiving department primarily shipping hazardous materials. After working 10 years, she left the company briefly to stay home with her two children and then returned to the family-owned company in the accounts receivable department. Rozmus worked part-time and then full-time as the need progressed for her to be there.

In August 2016, Eastern Propane was purchased by NGL and the dynamics changed. She began offering “10 Minute Tuesdays” providing tips and information about different topics before the office opened. “I didn’t want to take up a lot of time. I came to find out I really liked it,” she said. “I always believed in helping others. It is so important to give them the knowledge.”

In July 2018, the company doubled in size again when it was acquired by Superior Plus Propane. “Sometimes you don’t know what’s in store for you until it happens.”

At Eastern Propane, Rozmus said, she did everything she could to fill in at every juncture, including assisting the controller and overseeing charitable contributions in the community.

“I did have a knack for knowing our computer system. I gleaned how to run reports. It actually stuck with me quite well. When we were purchased, I saw a need to help our billing,” she said. “I was able to pull the reports in our system. I have the ability to understand operations and logistics and dabble in IT.”

Because of her well-rounded capability, Rozmus became a trusted advisor soon after the company acquisition when a new operating system was introduced.

“That is where I found I have a knack and the ability to adapt and think outside the box. I became the go-to system for the office. In a way, it became much more energizing than I originally thought.

“Once we moved into a new system, I became the assistant for both offices and was able to grow. I’ve become a technology geek. When I want to learn something, I go and seek. Learning on my own time is something I do.”

Recently, Rozmus was asked to be a lead trainer for a major companywide project. ”I am definitely excited about it. I feel my voice is a being heard, and I am very empowered,” she added.

“I have more time now that I don’t have to run kids here and there. I found I really like helping out and training people. Helping people, you see a change in them. I have inspiration cards I give out to people I meet; it brings a smile.”

Although she puts in a lot of hours, arriving between 6 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. every day, the New Jersey native still finds time for outside interests. She loves to go kayaking with her husband and work with horses.

“I really enjoy working with horses. There is a barn close to me. I work at the barn, but I consider it my therapy,” she said. “It’s physical. The horses to me are just a calming presence. My backup in the winter is yoga. I believe in keeping the momentum going.”

What’s next for Lynn? “I have no idea, but I’m open to opportunities.” — Karen Massman VanAsdale