Mike Walters is BPN's June 2024 Industry Insider.
The Superior Energy Systems' Vice President of Safety & Fleet talks the 'electrify everything' movement, industry truths he wished he knew earlier, & his prized 1957 Chevy

Describe your current role at your company. 

I develop and execute the company safety program and provide consultation services to the industry. How did you get your start in the propane industry? I got into the propane industry by coincidence. While waiting to be placed in a fire service position, I took a job delivering gas for PARGAS. 

Over your 40 years in the propane industry, what is/are the most important lesson(s) you’ve learned about safety that you pass on to others? 

I suppose there are many lessons I’ve learned about safety that I think are important to share. Nothing is black and white. Most of everything is in a grey area. Keep an open mind. Things may not appear as they seem and most often are not. And, applicable to the first two, “Says who? Show me the science.” This means I want to see proof before I commit. 

What has your experience been like serving on safety and compliance boards and how has that shaped your career? 

Serving on boards and committees has been many things. First, it’s an absolute education, and I urge anyone who wants to further the industry to engage. Second, I have met many exceptional people — some have become family. 

What is the biggest challenge the industry is facing right now, and what are you doing in your company to overcome it? 


Do I need to say it? Electrify everything, misunderstanding about global warming, carbon intensity, natural gas expansion — but I think the biggest challenge is that propane is the answer to all of it. Yet, nobody knows that but us. We need to change the perception of propane. The challenge is getting the general public to know and understand the truth. 

What’s one thing you wish you knew earlier in your career that you know now? 

I wish I knew earlier that safety is about the people, about behavior, the decisions people make and the position they put themselves in. Safety isn’t about compliance and equipment, although compliance, equipment and training are pieces of the puzzle. I was 15 years in before I realized what safety is really all about. 

What’s the toughest decision you’ve made in your current role? 

There really isn’t anything tough about my current role — mostly because I enjoy what I do. You know the old saying: “If you enjoy what you do, it’s not work.” The toughest decision in my career has been changing companies and leaving my friends behind. 

What’s something that not a lot of people know about you? 

On a professional level, there aren’t many who know the true depth of my career. On a personal level, there aren’t many who know the depth of my fire service career or that I was once the trainer for a professional hockey club. 

What do you want your legacy to include? 

All I have ever wanted from this journey is to perhaps be remembered as someone who made a positive impact on the industry. 

What’s your funniest/favorite work memory? 

I’m not sure it’s a fair question. One cannot be in an industry for nearly five decades without much of it being hilarious. As far as the favorite memory, it was probably everything we did in responding to the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989. It was a 6.9 magnitude and did heavy damage and tremendous loss of life. That voluntary response led to the company forming a gas emergency response team. There were other nuances to that story, but that’s another conversation. 

What’s your most prized possession? 

At this stage of my life, hardware isn’t really one of my prizes, although I do have an AmeriGas jacket that was autographed by Richard Petty. Only wore it once, on that day. And of course, there is a classic Chevy in the garage. But, these days, people are my most prized. Family, friends, those I have known, associated with and get to see from time to time.


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