Tim Quinn smiling for the camera with fellow members of the Air Force
How Tim Quinn utilizes the leadership skills & dedication to process he learned in the military in his career today

Tim Quinn with fellow members of the Air ForceTim Quinn was raised in a military family with a culture that promoted, respected and admired the military service. His father was a United States Navy pilot, and his father’s brothers all served in the Navy as well. So, it was no surprise that Quinn and his older brother both enlisted after graduating from college. Quinn selected the U.S. Air Force, while his brother chose the Navy.

It was Quinn’s interest and passion for law enforcement that propelled him toward the Air Force. During his senior year in college, Quinn did an internship with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office of criminal investigations. Several agents were former Air Force criminal investigators, and they recommended he apply with the Air Force.

The Air Force provided excellent training and opportunities to provide air space security all over the world. And the responsibility seemed to come quickly. As a newly commissioned second lieutenant, Quinn was responsible for the security of nuclear missile fields and on-base flight line and military weapons storage areas.


He spent time in Strategic Air Command (SAC) in both North and South Dakota, as well as time in the U.S. Air Force in Europe (USAFE). While in Belgium, Tim was assigned to a ground base cruise missile squadron. According to Quinn, it was invigorating, fulfilling and “serious work!”

After serving four years, Quinn made the difficult decision to transition to civilian life. He initially spent some time in work that didn’t match up well with everything he had learned during his training and service in the Air Force.

He said it didn’t seem serious enough, it wasn’t a high enough level of commitment and dedication, and there weren’t any meaningful consequences for error.

Then he saw an opportunity to enter the fuel distribution industry. That seemed to have all the satisfying ingredients Quinn was looking for, including providing essential goods and services a consumer truly needs; helping people; requiring an attention to detail; being serious about safety; and following a process and direction — with serious consequences if you don’t. This seemed like “serious work!”

Quinn’s entry into the fuel industry is when I first met him. He was recruited and offered a management role with the same fuel company where I was working. That was nearly 26 years ago. I sensed immediately that Quinn was intelligent, methodical, well-trained and committed to providing leadership in a professional setting that mattered.

The fuel distribution and service business aligned well with Quinn’s passions. It’s an industry where training is crucial and where people are aligned in their mission and have each other’s backs — all the things the military had taught him, that he respected, admired and had molded him into who he became and who he is.

Tim QuinnWe eventually went our separate ways, but remained in the industry, stayed in touch and often met up at industry trade shows and other functions. When Cetane Associates joined forces with Vets2Techs to help promote the hiring of military veterans into our industry, I immediately thought of contacting Quinn. I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of his military training and how that has helped him enjoy a rewarding and successful civilian career.

Quinn has held a variety of management posts for some of the largest companies in the industry, which have all been rewarding, as he tells it. He told me what’s even more rewarding is to have the chance he now has to give back to the industry through his participation with Generation Next-Propane Pros.

As part of this initiative, he visits trade schools and community colleges throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast and speaks to students of all ages about the propane industry as an ideal career opportunity.

For Quinn, this is a perfect fit for the final chapter of his career — to be able to share the passion he has for the industry and how it aligns with everything he learned in the military.

Jeff Brunner is director of Cetane Associates LLC.


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