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    PERC to Realign Staff, Advisory Committees to Enhance Commercialization Strategy


    Propane Education & Research Council has undertaken a realignment of its staff and advisory committees to enhance implementation of its commercialization strategy, PERC President and CEO Roy Willis announced today.


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    Gregg Walker
    Propane Education & Research Council
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    PERC to Realign Staff, Advisory Committees to Enhance Commercialization Strategy

     PERC to Realign Staff, Advisory Committees to Enhance Commercialization Strategy (pdf) 

    WASHINGTON (September 8, 2011) — The Propane Education & Research Council has undertaken a realignment of its staff and advisory committees to enhance implementation of its commercialization strategy, PERC President and CEO Roy Willis announced today.

    PERC's five advisory committees will be consolidated into three panels focused on three key strategic areas — research, training, and markets. Former top staffers Kate Caskin and Brian Feehan are leaving PERC, and further staff changes are likely, Willis said. The changes are being made in close consultation with the PERC Executive Committee, which oversees the Council’s personnel policies.

    The organizational changes, Willis said, are the second phase of the Council's response to the August 2009 restriction of its activities that eliminated PERC’s authority to conduct a national public awareness campaign through generic advertising. The first phase included shutting down the national advertising campaign, reducing the assessment rate by 20 percent, cooperating with a year-long Government Accountability Office review of PERC's first decade of operations, hiring a chief commercial officer, and implementing a customized Stage-Gate process to improve project selection, implementation, and evaluation.

    Staff Changes. The departure of Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Kate Caskin "is a significant change at PERC," Willis said. "Kate has been with PERC since the beginning and helped build the organization. She led our multifaceted consumer education efforts that produced important returns on the industry’s investment and, also, won the D.C. Ad Club's Addy Award for Best TV Campaign of 2004 with the launch of the popular Energy Guys ads. She contributed in many ways and surely will be missed," Willis said.

    ”The loss of legal authority to conduct consumer education programs and the heightened focus on commercialization requires PERC to go beyond the staff changes made in the immediate wake of the restriction. That is particularly true where our market-facing efforts are concerned,” Willis said. “Given PERC’s strategic objective to work with manufacturing partners to bring new propane products to market, PERC’s top marketing officer must have expertise in market research, business case development, and product launch, which are key aspects of commercialization."

    “Strengthening the Council’s technical expertise is also essential to our commercialization strategy,” Willis said. Prior to the announcement that Brian Feehan, vice president in charge of engine fuel programs, was leaving this month to become president of the Industrial Truck Association, PERC announced it would hire an engineer with experience in internal combustion technologies. "That search is ongoing," Willis said. "It is a priority given the importance of PERC's portfolio of engine-related projects to our commercialization strategy."

    Willis said additional staff changes are expected and will include modifications in roles and responsibilities and possibly one or two further personnel changes.

    “This realignment is not about head count; PERC is a very lean organization given its roles and budget,” he said. “Rather it is making sure that we are effective and efficient. For instance, staff changes are likely to bring in-house some repetitive functions now handled by contractors and consultants. If we can cut program costs and deliver quality results for the industry with staff rather than outside firms, then that's what we're going to do," he said. “We have an acute awareness of the bottom line when it comes to staffing matters, driven in part by the law’s 10 percent cap on administrative expenses.”

    Advisory Committees. PERC Chairman Joseph Armentano addressed three of the Council's five advisory committees on August 24 in Milwaukee, where he announced the planned consolidation of PERC's advisory committees into three functional units with a focus on research, training, and markets. "Our objective is to bring together the expertise of our industry volunteers so we can better tackle the challenges that confront our industry and PERC in a more collaborative and comprehensive way," he said. Armentano is chief executive of Paraco Gas, in Rye Brook, N.Y.

    "That means our industry's best marketing minds need to think about and address propane market development as a whole, beyond an isolated focus on just housing or engine fuel or agriculture," Armentano said. "Similarly, our industry volunteers with safety and training expertise can help PERC develop better training tools for propane consumers as well as propane industry employees and emergency responders."

    "The propane industry has many volunteers with broad technical experience and expertise," Armentano said, "and that perspective is essential to a successful PERC research program that leads to the commercialization of products that consume propane. Helping create new demand for propane is the most important service PERC can provide for the industry in this tough economy where overall demanding is falling," he said.

    The scope and timetable for PERC’s staff and advisory committee realignment will be discussed in greater detail at the Council’s meeting on October 13 and 14 in Washington, Willis said.