Verbatim Column

What’s the most important factor you consider when hiring someone?

Everyone knows you can’t choose your family, but you can choose those valuable people who work with you and your team. My dad used to say that he had two families—the one I grew up with at home and the one he developed over many years at his bobtail-building business. I wonder how he would answer this month’s question. Today, in these times of COVID-19, we are facing our new employee needs using virtual recruiting and other challenges to ensure safe hiring while keeping our hiring strategies in mind as we aim to hire the best candidate. Read these insights to learn which factors rate top priority with our colleagues.

The VERBATIM column poses open-ended questions to a variety of colleagues. Adopted from a familiar “Heard on the Street” format, we offer our responders a chance to reply via e-mail. Their personal thoughts below are in response to the question posed above. These are their replies taken verbatim in the order received.



Cultural fit and past experience are important of course, but I really look for and value drive and passion. I want to gain confidence the candidate is going to be passionate and self-motivated should they be selected.

There are many indicators of this I look for like, career progression showing increasing levels of responsibility, their commitment to their past positions and employers by staying in a role long enough to actually master the role, produce successful results, and with behavior style questions around how they have been successful and addressed challenges in their career to date.

There is a lot to learn in our industry and most of it isn’t in a book or lesson plan. Having the initiative to proactively pursue the objectives of the role, in my experience, leads to creative strategies and great results.

Boyd H. McGathey

Energy Distribution Partners

Parkville, Mo.


Can do attitude!  You can train for everything else!

Laurie Irish-Jones

Irish Propane

Buffalo, N.Y.


One of the main attributes that I look for in a new hire is a good attitude and enthusiasm. I’ve found that if they have a good attitude, they usually aren’t afraid of work or learning new things. If they are enthusiastic, they are eager to take on the job and usually do very well at the given job.

Brad Duncan

Allaround Propane, Inc.

Fruitland, N.M.


Communication skills.

Jenni McKeen

Georgia Propane Gas Association

Marietta, Ga.


My number one quality for a new employee whether I am hiring a CSR, driver or technician is something that embodies all our needs. I look for an Ambassador for the company. Someone who provides a great experience for the customer. We want them to feel they have made the best choice in going with Proctor Gas.

That ambassador’s only job is to make the customer feel valued and safe! If they have done this, they have done their job well. The CSRs are patient and kind. The drivers are polite and considerate of the customers’ property, and the technicians are willing to go above and beyond to fix the appliance, leave their work area cleaner than they found it and make sure the customer is happy before they leave, answering any questions or concerns they may have.

Judy Taranovich

Proctor Gas

Proctor, Vt.


I used to say the most important factor when hiring was work ethic.  According to Wikipedia, work ethic is a belief that hard work and diligence have a moral benefit and an inherent ability, virtue or value to strengthen character and individual abilities. It is a set of values centered on importance of work and manifested by determination or desire to work hard.  I always thought you could teach skills to a person with a good work ethic.  I still believe that, however I have come to realize that as a baby boomer, my definition of work ethic is very different than that of the gen X and millennials coming up in the workplace. I now look beyond work ethic to ethics in general.  I want to know that who I hire will not only make our company better but have a positive influence in the world by making it a better place to both work and live.

Steve Abbate

Cetane Associates LLC

Kent, Conn.


I look for longevity and, also company awards and significant milestones throughout their career. I want to see hard facts versus fluff.  Also, “Readability” – does their resume tell a story fluidly of overall career progression.

Hayley Karicofe


Churchville, Va.


There are two areas we look at closely to find the right candidate for the job.

  1. Knowledge – We are hiring them for their expertise in a certain area which we verify through open-ended questions and testing.
  2. Culture – Will they “fit in” with the company culture that we have worked hard to establish? That is best achieved with multiple interviews since everyone puts on the best version of themselves for interviews.


Julie Johnson

Ted Johnson Propane

Baldwin Park, Ca.


The most important factor when hiring is the applicant’s attitude. You can teach skills but with a poor attitude learning is difficult. Core values usually shape a person’s attitude, a positive attitude usually is exhibited in a happier person that works well with others, treats the customer with respect, and is a reliable problem solver.

Gary France

France Propane Service

Schofield, Wis.


When I sit in on an interview, what strikes me most is that first impression.  This person will be the face of our company to our customers, so having a neat appearance is very important.  I am also interested in how well they complete their application.  Is their writing legible, with good spelling and punctuation?  Do they switch jobs often?   By spending a considerable amount of time talking with them, asking questions, giving them our company background and job details, I feel this initial step helps us learn a lot about a potential employee.

Rosie Buschur

McMahan’s Bottle Gas

Dayton, Ohio


Our biggest consideration is whether or not the candidate is a culture fit. If a potential hire’s character isn’t in alignment with our company’s core values, then we will not hire.

Jason Soulon

Westmor Industries

Shawnee, Kan.



With our priorities in mind while recruiting new hires, we can choose wisely. My husband shared the wisdom of the adage “take a long time to hire and a short time to fire” with me when I was in a position of hiring people. Take your time to hire the person who meets the needs of the role you are trying to fill as well as passing the “fits in” test. If you run through all the candidates without a strong match, begin a new search round. And, if you sometimes miss the mark, accept it and take quick action to start over.


Nancy Coop, Cetane Associates


This column was first published in the December 2020 issue of Butane-Propane News.

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We were very pleased to have such a knowledgeable and experienced company in our corner with the team at Cetane. It was obvious that they knew the best process and how to get the ball over the goal line. Their advice throughout the process was greatly appreciated and we thoroughly enjoyed working with them.

— Steve Lombardi, Brodeur’s Oil, Moosup, CT