Tyler Misel, chairman of the Southeast Propane Alliance (SEPA), wrote the following excerpt in his Industry Innvators nomination for John Jessup: “John’s innovation and forward thinking have been the driving force behind many industry advancements. He has never shied away from a challenge, and his unwavering commitment to excellence has been an inspiration to all who have worked with him.”
Two of his recent accomplishments are proof of this statement: In the span of a few years, Jessup was instrumental in forming not only SEPA — made up of the former North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia state associations — but also the North Carolina Technical Education Center (NCTEC), which serves as a workforce development and training center for new propane industry recruits.
Jessup got his start in propane after a career in the United States Army. He was hired by Ferrellgas as a manager in Virginia, where he spent the next six years learning the industry from the ground up. From there, Jessup went to work for the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association. While there, he received a call about an opening with the North Carolina Propane Gas Association (NCPGA).
Jessup was serving as the president and CEO of the NCPGA when several adjacent state associations entered a transitional stage with key leadership retirements. “The plan we came up with was to combine the three states — North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia — into one regional association with three boards,” Jessup said. “But I wasn’t interested in running three separate states with three separate boards. So, the plan became bringing it under one umbrella.”
With the creation of SEPA, Jessup had the opportunity to build a more robust team — something he said has driven much of the success of the alliance.
While much of his current role involves behind-the-scenes work (he references the state’s recent H.B. 130 energy choice bill the alliance worked hard to get passed), NCTEC is an achievement with which he enjoys seeing the continual results of his labor. Students at NCTEC (the school can take up to 24 at any given time) leave with the skills necessary for a variety of roles within the propane industry.
“It was a lot heavier lift than I thought it would be initially. I liken it [and starting SEPA] to taking on two startups at one time,” Jessup said. “But the result is worth all the time invested; when someone hires an NCTEC student, they are coming fully prepared to take on whatever is thrown at them.”
Seeing that vision come to life is important to Jessup. When asked about the legacy he wants to leave, he says he hasn’t spent much time considering it. “Hard work always pays off. And I’d like for my work to speak for itself,” he said.
To see all of this year's finalists, click here.