Free Propane Autogas Vehicle Technician Training Courses Offered Throughout The U.S.

In the push to adopt alternative fuel vehicles to protect the environment and reduce our dependence on foreign oil, one factor is often overlooked; automotive technicians must be properly trained to maintain and repair these technologies if they are ever to become a commonplace part of our lives.
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The National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (NAFTC) is one organization working to make sure technicians have the knowledge they need to work on these vehicles. Most recently, the NAFTC has partnered with the Propane Education and Research Council (PERC) to develop and provide free Propane Autogas Vehicle Technician Training nationwide.

June 14-16 the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (NAFTC) will conduct the third installment of this course at Linn-Benton Community College in Lebanon, OR.

Propane is an inexpensive, readily accessible alternative fuel. Available virtually everywhere, propane offers performance comparable to gasoline. It is also a domestic resource, which reduces U.S. dependence on foreign energy sources. Vehicles, in growing numbers, are being formatted to run on this clean-burning, efficient fuel.

As the popularity of propane as a vehicle fuel increases, the demand for propane autogas technicians grows too. Automotive technicians must know everything currently applicable to propane autogas technology, along with understanding the advances in engine management and emission controls that affect the design and servicing of these systems.

Vice President of Education and Training at PERC, Stuart Flatow, explained, “PERC was thrilled to partner with the NAFTC to create a formal course for students seeking knowledge on trouble shooting and maintaining propane autogas fuel systems. Now we are excited to roll the course out across the country and train these automotive technicians on how to work with this fuel.”

The new propane autogas training gives automotive service technicians an in-depth look at servicing and maintaining propane-autogas-powered vehicles. The NAFTC launched the course to help fill a need for qualified technicians who can adapt, service, and maintain the alternative fuel systems.

NAFTC Director Bill Davis commented, “The Propane Autogas Vehicle Technician Training will help us educate automotive technicians in the safe repair and maintenance of vehicles that run on propane autogas. Incorporating this new course into current automotive technology curriculums will benefit students, schools and their communities.”

Participants in the NAFTC Propane Autogas Vehicle Technician Training benefit from extensive hands-on activities. In addition to classroom lectures in the three-day entry-level propane autogas course, participants obtain an in-depth understanding of servicing and maintaining these vehicles. The course includes topics such as propane characteristics, fuel systems, vehicle compatibility, system components, and safety. The training is a technical course for professional, experienced automotive technicians and automotive trainers, seeking to learn about propane autogas vehicles.

Additional training sessions are scheduled throughout the U.S. For more information visit http://bit.ly/1Ysiqs1

Ferrellgas Acquires Selph’s Propane To Increase Footprint In Colorado

(OVERLAND PARK, Kan.) June 15, 2016 — Ferrellgas Partners, L.P. (NYSE:FGP) today announced the acquisition of Selph’s Propane, an independent propane retailer based in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. The transaction is expected to be immediately accretive and stands as proof positive of the partnership’s commitment to growing its core propane business through acquisitions that fit its operating model. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Ferrellgas Acquires Bridger Butane Propane News

“We are thrilled to welcome Selph’s employees and customers to the Ferrellgas family,” said Ferrellgas’ President and Chief Executive Officer Steve Wambold. “Selph’s is a strong, family-run business, the type that has long been the hallmark of our acquisition efforts. Two years ago we made the strategic decision to expand organically into the Durango, Colorado market, and this complementary addition was a great opportunity to even more rapidly grow our footprint there.”

Testament to the fact that Ferrellgas remains the propane industry’s leading consolidator, Selph’s Propane is the most recent of nearly 240 propane acquisitions the company has completed during its more than 75-year history – moves that have helped it grow from a single-location, independently owned propane provider to one of the largest publicly traded propane retailers in the United States. In 2014, the company also began aggressively pursuing a diversification strategy that has seen it begin to acquire assets in the crude oil midstream, as well.

National Forklift Safety Day Highlights Safety
Through Operator Training

(WASHINGTON, DC) June 14, 2016 – After completing forklift operator training, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports a 61 percent improvement in operator performance scores. That was today’s key message at the third annual National Forklift Safety Day, held today by the Industrial Truck Association (ITA) at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Capitol Hill, Washington, DC.
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The event features speakers from OSHA and the National Safety Council, the Chairman of the Congressional Subcommittee having jurisdictional oversight for OSHA, and key industry representatives.

Furthering the ITA’s mission to raise awareness and improve safety, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently renewed its alliance with the Industrial Truck Association during the industry-sponsored National Forklift Safety Day.

“Reducing worker injuries and fatalities is paramount to our companies and our industry,” said Brett Wood, president & CEO of Toyota Material Handling North America and chairman of ITA. “We are very pleased to have our alliance with OSHA renewed for another five years, and will continue to highlight the importance of operator training.”   

Through the alliance, participants will develop resources and provide training on recognizing and reducing workplace hazards related to the operation of powered industrial trucks. Additionally, the alliance will promote OSHA campaigns on preventing falls and heat illness, implement projects that protect temporary workers, and encourage a culture of safety. This will be especially beneficial to small businesses and workers with limited and non-English speaking skills.

National Forklift Safety Day serves as an opportunity for forklift manufacturers to highlight the safe use of forklifts, and the importance of operator training and daily equipment checks. Speakers from the National Safety Council, OSHA and industry representatives articulated the effectiveness of training to support successful safety programs across a broad spectrum of industries.

“Safety is an ongoing commitment and requires dedication from employer and employee all year round,” said ITA President Brian Feehan.  “National Forklift Safety Day provides an opportunity to raise awareness and demonstrate our industry’s commitment to increased safety through operator training. We are pleased to see more stakeholders join us in this important initiative, and collectively we will continue to emphasize the common goal of Safety First.”

Forklifts, which are the most common type of powered industrial truck, originated in the United States in 1917. Since then, annual US sales have grown to more than 190,000 units. Forklifts are used to lift, move and place materials throughout our economy, offering load capacities from a few thousand pounds up to 90 tons.  They are extremely versatile machines and operate in a wide range of indoor and outdoor environments.  A well-maintained forklift operated by a well-trained worker is critical to our country’s $165 billion material handling industry.

Many ITA members are also sponsoring forklift safety events for their customers, which often include conducting free operator training, distribution of safety material and hosting open houses across the nation.

About ITA: For more than 60 years, the Industrial Truck Association has been the leading organization of industrial truck manufacturers and suppliers of component parts and accessories that conduct business in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Based in Washington, D.C., ITA maintains an influential voice in international standards development for the industry. The organization also advances engineering practices to promote safe products, disseminates statistical marketplace information, and provides industry forums for learning and networking.

UP Fuels Merges with Energy Distribution Partners

UP Fuels, a service-oriented company that serves customers in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, has merged with Chicago, Illinois-based, Energy Distribution Partners (“EDP”). Based in Rudyard, Michigan, UP Fuels is a key fuel supplier to the Mackinac Island ferries.
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Energy Distribution Partners is focused on growing its business in the propane and midstream industry. EDP’s strategy is to acquire successful operations, retain the brand name, preserve local management and delegate to those in
 the local community. This is the fourth transaction for EDP since January 1, 2016.
 
Energy Distribution Partners is a company with extensive 
experience in retail and commercial propane sales, operations and finance. The company provides safe, reliable propane service to residential and commercial customers in California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. EDP is actively seeking partners for growth.

Proctor Gas — A Legacy Continues

The out-of-gas call came late one night in 1966, but Proctor Gas (Proctor, Vt.) owner Match Taranovich was out of the office and away from home. His wife, Ella, wanted to respond to the urgent call, but she didn’t know how to drive the company service truckwith a manual transmission. However, Match and Ella’s 14-year-old son, Jimmy, who was experienced in some repair and maintenance work from helping his father on service calls, thought he knew how to drive the stick shift from watching him. So Ella and her young son drove the service truck to the residence, with Ella in the driver’s seat while Jimmy operated the stick from the passenger seat.
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“She drove, he shifted, he took care of the out-of-gas call, and home they came without dad,” said Proctor Gas owner Judy Taranovich, who was married to Jimmy for nearly 30 years until he passed away in 2010. As Proctor Gas celebrates its 50th year in business this year, the company’s leaders have many stories to tell about how the company has grown and how the Taranovich family has run the business while keeping active in the community.

The company’s story began with Match Taranovich working for Proctor Coal Co., then owned by George Johnson, as a sales and service manager.His journey as a business owner started in 1966, when Johnson approached him to see if he wanted to buy the appliance portion of his business. This would have been “white goods,” including Hot Point and Magic Chef stoves and refrigerators. But Jimmy and Ella, in a true entrepreneurial spirit, convinced Match that he needed to purchase the propane portion of the business as well, and Proctor Gas was born.

Match and Ella ran the business as a husband-and-wife team, with Ella, who already had a full-time administrative position elsewhere, keeping the books at Proctor Gas as her second job. Jimmy assisted in the business all through high school and college, knowinghe wanted a career with the company. In 1983, two years after marrying Judy, Jimmy assumed full managerial responsibility at Proctor Gas. Under his leadership, the company tripled in size, but it remains independent-minded as a third-generation family business offering propane service with a personal touch to residential and commercial customers. Ella Taranovich still helps out at the business as an active 96-year-old.

In the late ’80s and early ’90s, Jimmy, known affectionately in the industry as “Jimmy T,” could see the market changing. With the growth of big-box stores carrying white goods and margins slipping away, Jimmy made a move away from appliances and started in the hearth and patio market, carrying high-end lines of fireplaces, inserts, stoves, and grills.

When the company started out, Judy Taranovich wasn’t involved much. “I was a horse trainer,” she explained, adding that she also gave riding lessons and ran a stable. A few years later, she began helping out at Proctor Gas with accounts receivable and other duties, but she remained committed to her equestrian pursuits. Judy began decorating the displayed fireplace mantels, adding products such as candles, decorative prints, and other items that would accentuate the hearth products.

“People started coming in and buying the items that I put on the mantels, so we thought ‘Maybe we have an opportunity for a gift shop here.’” The company’s hearth business, Vermont Hearth & Home, was born.

Along with the shift toward hearth and patio, Proctor Gas also inthe early 1990s expanded and became one of the first 20-lb cylinder exchange businesses in New England. That business grew to include cylinder cages in Vermont, New York, and New Hampshire, but Jimmy decided not to make the big investment necessary to grow it further, and he eventually sold it to Blue Rhino.

Running the Vermont Hearth & Home gift shop was Judy’s main role until September 2010, when Jimmy died while riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle. “Not really having done anything in propane, I just kind of jumped in with eyes closed,” she recalled. “The gift shop had to go by the wayside at that point.”
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Thrust into the role of leading the company, she has met the challenge. About a week after Jimmy’s death, setting up a meeting with the Proctor Gas staff of 11 was one of Judy’s first priorities. She presented the group with two options. The first would be to sell the company, although she assured her team members that they were so good at what they did that they would have no trouble finding new jobs. The second option would be to keep the company going. She secretly hoped they would choose the second option but didn’t pressure them. She told the team members they could take some time to give her an answer, but they never left the table. They all agreed to work together and keep the business going.

“Jimmy created a family,” Judy noted. “It was because of him, and the way he pulled his team together, that I even felt somewhat comfortable going forward. If it had been any other scenario, I probably wouldn’t have gone forward, but he was very safety-conscious, and he had a great staff that is really well-trained and educated and very safety-minded. He was very good to his staff. They loved him.” Long-time staff members include service manager Walt Piontek and office manager Laurie Wener, who have been with the company since 1989; and installation technician Shannon Gibbs, who started in 1990.

Judy then set about to learn the propane business from the ground up to continue Jimmy T’s legacy and preserve Proctor Gas. She was surprised at the outpouring of support from propane industry members. While attending her first National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) Southeastern Convention and International Propane Expo immediately after his death, she was flooded with business cards from propane industry members offering to help her. The industry even held a Jimmy T Commemorative Motorcycle Rally in 2011 to benefit the National Propane Gas Foundation Scholarship Fund. During his professional career he was known for his industry involvement, serving as an NPGA board member, a member of the Propane Education & Research Council’s (PERC) Safety & Training Advisory Committee, and as a long-time board member of the Propane Gas Association of New England (PGANE). He also served as a board member and president of the Vermont Propane Gas Association. “It’s such an amazing industry as far as reaching out and helping one another,” Judy commented. “I know that’s true because it’s been six years, and I still have people asking if I need anything and asking how I’m doing.”
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Because of that generosity, she is an advocate of industry involvement. She has received additional support and education as a member of the NPGA Benchmarking Council, and her company is a member of the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association, PGANE, the Hearth Patio & Barbecue Association, and the Northeast Hearth Patio & Barbecue Association. “If I could send one message out to people in our industry, I think belonging to these different organizations, and making these contacts, are invaluable,” Judy said.

Her efforts to learn the business have paid off as the business has continued to thrive. That includes the hearth business, although she is seeing increased competition. She observes, however, that her company caters to the consumer looking for quality products. She also believes in carrying “made in America” products. “We are also a full-service store as opposed to ‘pick up and assemble yourself.’”

With a strong belief in the autogas movement, the company sells propane to a local commercial landscaping business that uses propane mowers. Proctor Gas has also stepped up its own use of propane autogas. Three of the company’s service trucks run on the fuel, and the business has ordered a Freightliner S2G propane-fueled bobtail.

She plans for the company to continue Jimmy’s legacy going forward. Her 24-year-old son, Josh, makes Proctor Gas a third-generation family firm. Josh worked part-time for the company through school and has been there full-time for about a year and a half.

“I’ve been a bit of a tough Italian mom, starting him at the bottom, but no one is ever going to say he was spoon-fed,” she said. “Everything he has gotten from the company, he has earned.”He started out in the yard, cleaning and painting tanks, and because Proctor Gas is a small family business, all of the team members still perform those duties as well. Josh also helps with service calls and with the hearth business, and he completed Certified Employee Training Program (CETP) training. He is in the process of completing hiscommercial driver’s license (CDL) and is working toward obtaining a hazmat endorsement so he can drive a bobtail and larger trucks.

Judy also plans to honor Jimmy’s legacy by living up to one of the company’s taglines: “We have roots in the Rutland area, not just branches.” She noted that Jimmy supported the local humane society, schools, and youth organizations. “He pretty much never turned a kid away,” she stated. “If a youth organization needed something, whether we were donating a 100-lb cylinder for a Fryolator down at the Little League field, or they were needing a bus to go to the championship game, it didn’t matter. He was very community-minded.”

She has continued her company’s work in helping local groups and businesses. She has donated to Operation BBQ Relief, which provides meals to residents in disaster-stricken areas, and Proctor Gas is on a volunteer list to provide propane, grills, and other materials when disaster-relief needs arise.

Doing business locally is important to Judy, and she makes sure that the money her company earns stays in the community. Because of Proctor Gas’ proximity to the Canadian border, she also wants the money to stay in the U.S. “I’m very much about whatever we do here, whatever money is made from the business stays local and goes back to support our area, whether it’s kids’ programs, the Humane Society, the local food shelf, or Proctor’s community concerns, I want to continue what Jimmy did.”

Living up to Jimmy’s work at Proctor Gas has been a challenge, but Judy plans to continue the company’s current direction. “I tell people I’ve had to learn the hearth products business, the propane business, and the ‘business-business.’ My background is in horses. There has been a huge learning curve. I haven’t grown the business as much as Jimmy would have, but the fact that we’re still standing is a testament to how well he put the company together and what a tremendous team I have.”  —Daryl Lubinsky