FYI

Q&A from LP Gas with Jerry Sheridan AmeriGas’ president and CEO

Jerry Sheridan, AmeriGas President & CEO

See what the “New AmeriGas” means to our president and CEO, Jerry Sheridan and more in this interview conducted by LP Gas Magazine Editor in Chief Brian Richesson in their current issue:

AMERIGAS-HERITAGE PROPANE

Jerry Sheridan was named president and CEO of Valley Forge, Pa.-based AmeriGas in March 2012, following the retirement of Gene Bissell and about two months after the nation’s largest propane retail operation closed on the Heritage Propane deal. He came to AmeriGas in 2005, having held vice president, CFO and COO positions. Here are a few things he had to say about the merger:

Was the timing of these large-scale acquisitions just coincidence or does it say something more about the state of the propane industry that the largest retailers are consolidating?

Sheridan: The propane industry in general has been under pressure – the decrease in housing starts and high propane prices in recent years have driven customer conservation. Also, in parts of the Southeast, there’s been an increased move toward electricity among builders and homeowners, and space heaters have become more prevalent. As a result, the volume of the entire industry has been under pressure. It’s such a fragmented industry, with over 3,000 competitors. In any particular town, there could be four, five, eight, even 10 competitors. As a result, it’s an industry that is perfect for a roll-up strategy – that’s how all of the big MLPs have been built – so it’s only natural that consolidation will continue. The fact that a couple of big deals got done recently is just a logical extension of that trend.

AmeriGas closed the deal just more than a year ago. Since the acquisition, we have seen references to the “New AmeriGas.” What are the biggest differences within the company?

Sheridan: The “New AmeriGas” means a number of things to all of us here. We didn’t want to approach the combination with Heritage as a “takeover.” Heritage was a respected company that we thought had great people and great approaches to the marketplace that we wanted to preserve. We really sought to enhance AmeriGas. We went to great lengths to select the best managers and employees from both companies.  We also wanted to integrate the best practices of each business to create a new company that is better and stronger than either was before the merger.  Most notably, AmeriGas was strong in safety and distribution, while Heritage had a great entrepreneurial culture. We want the “New AmeriGas” to have all of these characteristics. Beyond integrating  people, culture and operations, we  renewed our focus on customers.

How will the acquisition impact the way AmeriGas services its 2.3 million customers?

Sheridan: Two great things that come with combining large companies is an expanded footprint and, frequently, larger stores. When you have critical mass in stores, you have more drivers; the manager is going to have distribution talent in the store and more customer service agents. If a small district is missing a driver in the winter, it’s a big disruption. But having critical mass now allows you to have flexibility. You always have good coverage in all functions, and both delivery density and customer service are much improved.

Is there a stigma to being too big – a perception that a large company can’t provide the personal touch for customers like the smaller retailers? Is that a concern?

Sheridan: We don’t view it as a stigma. Competitors try to use our size against us, claiming that we’re not a “local” company, even though our presence and employees are in the same community, but ignoring the fact that our size provides customers with some great advantages: certainty of supply, a total commitment to safety, the ability to mobilize resources in the event of unusual needs, like severe weather or natural disaster, and a 24/7 hotline, to name just a few. We’ve had a lot of discussions with legacy AmeriGas and Heritage managers about what it means to be local and our commitment to being part of every community we serve. Wherever we have combined two brands, we’ve reached out to the customer base, highlighting that we are still the same people, just perhaps with a different logo on our uniform. The footprint we have now allows us to have two great national businesses – our cylinder exchange business and our national accounts business. We have 45,000 locations in cylinder exchange and 200 national accounts serving 33,000 locations. We offer the best of being big, serving large-scale customers, while also being a strong local presence in the towns in which we operate.

More about AmeriGas

AmeriGas strives to offer the most reliable, safest, and responsive service. If AmeriGas can assist you with any of your propane needs, please contact us and let us show you why we are the nation’s leading propane supplier.

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