The man who heads the country’s biggest propane marketing company will step down on March 2. Eugene Bissell has led AmeriGas Propane Inc., the general partner of AmeriGas Partners LP, as CEO and president since being promoted 11 years ago. But in a statement last week the company confirmed Bissell, 58, would retire in less than three weeks time having served the propane industry for the last 30 years.
He will be replaced by Jerry Sheridan, the company’s current vice president and chief operating officer. R. Paul Grady will in turn succeed Sheridan as vice president and chief operating officer. Grady, 58, previously served as Heritage Propane president.
AmeriGas Propane announced Bissell’s retirement plans in October but the company only confirmed Bissell’s exit date last week. AmeriGas Partners shares rose 19 cents to $43.58 on the announcement.
The company is one of the nation’s propane retail majors. Since acquiring Heritage Propane from Energy Transfer Partners late last year in a $2.8 billion deal, AmeriGas has nearly doubled its customer base and added 500 million gallons of propane to its distribution. It now serves more than two million customers in all 50 states from more than 1200 locations. The landmarked deal was finally signed off last month by the Federal Trade Commission.
Like many other propane companies, AmeriGas faces some challenges in the current operating environment. Its first quarter results for fiscal year 2012 were down on the same period last year. The company reported lower profits and decreased propane sales, mainly due to unseasonably warm winter temperatures weighing on heating demand. Confirming the results in January, Bissell said of the freak weather conditions it had been “impossible to fully offset the lack of demand brought about by such significantly warm weather.”
Bissell joined UGI Corporation– which holds 44 percent of the AmeriGas partnership – in 1981. He held positions of responsibility at UGI and in the industrial gases division of AmeriGas before joining COC Group in 1987. He returned to AmeriGas Propane, Inc. in 1995 and worked in sales, marketing and operations before being made president and chief executive officer in 2000.