Beth Donovan smiling in front of a propane truck
A conversation with the director of propane operations at Shipley Energy

Describe your current role at your company.

At Shipley Energy, I manage everything propane related. I establish our department’s budget, monthly metrics, monitor our successes and establish process improvements where needed. I also spend much of my time developing and working alongside my incredible team to serve our customers.

How did you get your start in the propane industry?

In 1986, I began my career in the propane industry as a customer service representative. I loved helping customers and was so happy to be promoted to management. One of my favorite memories from the start of my career was learning to fill grill cylinders myself because I hated telling customers they needed to wait until a technician or a driver returned at the end of the day to get their fill. I thought, ‘Why turn business away if I could learn to do that?’

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned as director of propane operations at Shipley Energy?

My experience here reinforces how important it is to be a transparent leader. By that, I mean we never give the ‘because I said so’ speech at Shipley Energy. My managers, drivers and technicians can rally behind a new initiative when they understand how their part can impact the entire team, whether it’s a new process or procedure. We always make an effort to explain the ‘WHY.’

What did it mean to you to be named the first woman president of the Pennsylvania Propane Gas Association?


I was honored to be named the first female president of the Pennsylvania Propane Gas Association. Learning that my impact in the propane business was recognized this way meant the world to me, especially because the energy industry can be male dominated.

What is your ideal future for the industry, and how do you plan to continue contributing to it?

Propane is such a versatile energy source; its possibilities are endless. I want people to be aware of everything propane can do for them. It brings me great satisfaction to know what we do each day keeps families warm in their homes and helps businesses operate efficiently. Education, training and customer service are huge components of growing the propane side of our business and is where my team and I are happy to step in to pose solutions and answer any questions.

What’s your favorite part of the workday?

By far, my favorite part of the workday is when I know all my drivers and technicians have returned from their day’s schedule safely. The satisfaction of a day serving our customers ... and my team [returning] home safely can’t be beaten.

What do you think would surprise someone about the job you do?

Over the years, I’ve built relationships with quite a few customers who call me when they have a question or need a delivery. It’s important to me that we serve our customers to the best of our ability, so I jump in when I can.

What’s the best advice you can give to someone who just started their career?

It’s important to be passionate about what you’re doing! That’s the biggest advice I can give. Find a job that makes getting up each day easy. Once you find that niche, give it your all and success won’t be out of reach.

What’s the last thing you read?

The last book I read was “Atomic Habits” by James Clear with my team. We’re always working on continuous improvement at Shipley Energy, and the concept of doing just 1% better really helps us make progress in a way that feels achievable.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?

Over the course of my career, I’ve been lucky to work with some incredible people. A past manager once told me he’d never met anyone who was able to be completely passionate about family, the propane industry and my employees. That compliment has really stuck with me.

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

This is an easy one. Bacon!

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