Written by Don Nichols

Dr. Walter O. Snelling as a young man.

In 1910, Dr. Walter Snelling discovered vapors coming from a gasoline tank on a Ford Model T which had components that could be used for multiple things such as torches and cooking.  One of these components happened to be propane and here we are, the Propane Industry was created.

I have been in the Energy business for 23 years and propane has been a major part of that. The propane industry is a very tight knit family which has really pushed the industry into overdrive.  We all stay very involved and care about the industry and where it will be going in the future.

There are many careers ranging from a bobtail driver and technicians to office personnel and management.  I personal have been doing sales and training for the last 6 years and recently have noticed something very disturbing.  On a daily basis I interact with numerous customers and just about everyone I talk to are really struggling with maintaining and finding employees.  Bobtail and Bobtail driverThis seems to be mainly drivers and technicians although I am sure it is spilling into other areas of the industry as well.  This really can cause numerous problems throughout the industry and could have a real snowball effect in the future.  With the cold winters we have had and the one they are predicting we all need to be staffed properly to take care of our customers.  Without proper staffing it takes a real toll on our existing employees trying to pull all the weight.  Working under those conditions is not fair nor is safe and could cause unnecessary mistakes ultimately causing a dangerous situation.

Propane technician pumping fuel into a tank

There is a certain core group of Technicians and Drivers that have been involved in the industry for years and probably always will be until retirement.  As people retire and move on we need to continue to fill those positions plus some.  We seem to be recycling the same core group throughout our companies and the industry instead of hiring new people.  Why is this happening?  Are we not paying enough for quality help?  Are we not marketing the Industry the way we should be?  I don’t know the answers to all these questions although I do know that it is becoming a real problem.  So what can we do?

Take care of your existing employees, don’t lose them.  You have invested a considerable amount of money and time getting them trained over the years.   It is much more expensive to be constantly advertising and spending valuable time trying to hire new people. Propane technician making notes Be sure your employees are where they need to be as far as pay and benefits according to industry standards, if you don’t someone will.

I would like to encourage everyone to stay involved with your local technical schools and associations to help market our industry.  The Propane Gas Association of New England (PGANE) has recently developed a new Recruitment Committee to work on combatting this growing problem.  Byron Breda is heading up the committee, I am sure he would love to hear from anyone that may be interested in helping out.  After talking with him the other day, he is also involved with other recruitment committees throughout the states.  This is obviously not only a problem in New England, it is everywhere.

Let’s all keep our Industry growing strong for another 100 years.



 

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Salesperson Don Nichols

Don Nichols

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