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Meet PERC’s First Chairwoman

(Photo Courtesy of PERC)

On July 10th, AmeriGas’ own director of marketing, Paula Wilson was handed the gavel from Joe Armentano, outgoing chairman and owner of Paraco Gas to become the first chairwoman of the Propane Education and Research Council (PERC).

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with PERC’s new chairwoman to discuss her new role, her path of travel in this industry and even about food- grilled salmon, to be specific.

Paula’s path to the PERC gavel began with her applying for a temp job, which lead her to AmeriGas. She was asked to develop a sales blitz for propane as an alternative fuel for company fleets. Today, fleets are making the switch every day to propane autogas. From there, she was offered a position in the marketing department as customer relations rep/trainer.  She would be teaching (which was her initial career) customer service to the customer relations representatives in the 33 AmeriGas districts. Paula has continued to excel at AmeriGas in the marketing department, currently holding the director of marketing position.

When I asked Paula what her favorite aspects of PERC are, she had several notes. PERC plays a key role in industry growth, and we have high quality teams of people dedicated to making that happen. PERC staff, board and all the committee members make up  a highly informed and effective  organization. We discussed what her new role as chairwoman of the council entails. Paula is excited to work closely with the other council members and PERC staff to ensure that PERC dollars are spent wisely. Paula mentioned the need to implement valuable programs for marketers to use, to enhance safety training programs, and to continue the development of new products that burn gallons.

Next, we talked about what goals Madame Chairwoman wanted the council to achieve during her term. She first discussed how exciting and challenging it would be if the restriction was lifted on PERC consumer education activities. It is critical for industry  members to support the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) and PERC’s effort to move in this direction. Paula also hopes to further expand and increase the industry’s engagement through utilizing PERC materials, and challenges marketers to launch programs that build infrastructure and increases sales in the autogas segment.

With all this industry talk, I asked Paula what propane applications many people are unaware of or not too familiar with as of yet. On the commercial side of propane, Paula advised that gas heat pumps should be given more consideration. It is one system with both heating and cooling possibilities. On the residential side of propane, and along the same lines, a gas heat pump system. It’s efficient and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.  However, these products do need a more attractive price point.

With all of the different areas that propane can be utilized, I wanted to find out what was Paula’s favorite application. Her response, propane-powered lawnmowers. It has so many benefits for landscaping companies, from mowers to fleets:

  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 19%
  • Creates 20% less nitrogen oxide
  • Creates up to 60% less carbon monoxide
  • Virtually no particulate matter
  • Improved air quality

With all the above stated, I wanted to know what aspect of this energy source PERC’s new chairwoman gave her biggest shout out to, her  “Props to Propane” if you will. Without hesitation Paula referenced propane’s versatility. As an energy source, it can be used anywhere!

As a woman in the propane industry I requested Paula’s advice for women in this field. Her response: Seek out a mentor within your company or the industry, and become involved in industry organizations. One of her favorite aspects of this industry is how passionate the people are and because of that, many a great relationship has been formed. Paula has been involved in the NPGA, by participating and chairing committees to serving on the BOD. She started as an advisory committee member for PERC  in 1998, and then became a councilor and vice-chair-marketers. She is also a member of the Women in Propane Council.

With all of the above involvement, I wondered when she had time to eat, which brought me to my next question posed to her. What was her favorite grilled food. Paula’s answer, salmon. (yum)! Which lead me to my final question of the day to her: When you aren’t working as director of marketing at AmeriGas or contributing in your new role as chairwoman for PERC, and you are in the comfort of your home, what is your favorite propane appliance there? Paula responded with the propane heater that heats the backyard pool.

That answer, of course, triggered me to ask one final question to Paula: When is your next grilled salmon/pool party, and how do I get an invite?!




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