“We’re putting the band back together.” A go-to phrase from the 1980 classic comedy, The Blues Brothers, that’s what it felt like last month in Hershey, Pa. The niche show dedicated to the oil and energy service professionals had its reunion feel back, and the 61st OESP Annual Trade Show & Convention featured its cast of characters in attendance.
In truth, last year’s two-part OESP Roadshow, a noble effort, which tried to bring the show closer to contractors, lacked solid attendance numbers. Yet, bringing it back to Hershey, its sweet spot—pun intended—you could feel the energy, and all exhibitors and attendees were satiated.
OESP, the association dedicated to the Oil & Energy Service Professional, held consistent on its mission of education with a diverse program, including two of NORA’s new courses on airflow and hydronics, as well as a full trade show. “OESP changed its name a few years ago to reflect an evolution in its industry and its membership. Many conventional fuel oil dealers are adding propane to their offerings, as well as HVAC, plumbing, electrical, etc.,” said Al Breda, president.
“Since 1999, the oil heating industry has changed dramatically, and it has been tough for many companies, and thus our members,” said Judy Garber, OESP executive director—her last as acting director. “I’ve watched those who have accepted the challenge and moved toward diversification. In 1999, oil companies delivered to and serviced only oil heated homes and businesses. Today, they install solar, bathrooms, propane and gas appliances, and they quote new efficient oil-fired boilers and gas appliances. Today’s progressive companies control their routes with GPS, customers receive and pay their invoices electronically, often times right on the spot with handheld devices,” said Garber.
This year’s OESP Convention featured the The Dave Nelsen Scholarship Golf Tournament, which has raised more than $250,000 in awards—since 1999—has been presented to students interested in pursuing careers in the energy-service industry. The scholarship recipients are Roger Bruso, Jeffrey Comitz, Thomas Daros, Jr., Erik Graff, Michael Boylston, and Garth Reish.
Oil Heat Cares’ Care to Ride raised funds for oil-heating equipment replacements for people who are struggling to heat their homes. The following people were recognized for their commitment to Oil Heat Cares:
• Oil Heat Cares Cup: Judy Garber and Dan Holohan
• Top Fundraising Team: Team Connecticut
• Top Fundraiser Motorcycle Division: Ralph Adams
• Top Fundraiser Bicycle Division: Roger Marran
• Top Fundraiser Walking Division: Dan and Marianne Holohan
The Awards Banquet on Tuesday, May 19 was a special night, a night which saw OESP honor Garber for her outstanding contributions to the industry. Garber received the Lifetime Achievement Award alongside her family and friends. At a loss for words, she had said that she is rarely surprised, but that night was an exception, and the outpouring of appreciation overwhelmed her.
During the awards banquet, OESP also recognized Dan Holohan for his support to the association, establishing the Dan Holohan Scholarship, a scholarship set up in his name identifying the top instructors in the industry. Those teaching future technicians will be able to either purchase materials to enhance their training or attend a class or program that enriched their skills as an instructor.
Holohan, who has announced his retirement, has said, “This is my final year of doing seminars. My last will be at the AHR show in Orlando next January.”
OESP & AREE Partner
OESP and the Atlantic Region Energy Expo (AREE) recently announced they will host a joint trade show and convention next year — May 22-26, 2016 — at the Foxwoods Casino Resort, Ledyard, CT.
Eric DeGesero, executive vice president, Fuel Merchants Association of New Jersey, a prime sponsor that provides show management services for AREE commented, “This joint venture is a logical step in a consolidating industry.”
“Our goal is to continue to provide the forum that brings all segments of the petroleum marketing industry together to network and learn. Not only will we be continuing these efforts on behalf of motor fuel and heating fuel distributors but adding the technical educational component that OESP does so well,” DeGesero said.
According to OESP’s Garber, something needed to happen; there are too many shows with too few people attending them.
“We need to build an outstanding product that attendees know they need to attend. The oil industry is shrinking but it sure isn’t going away. OESP is evolving but it will take time to attract those in other energy businesses. Our focus is on service and installation, and by partnering with AREE, we are stronger and we can together be a very strong show in the Northeast when it comes to oil and energy.
“The joint show provides each of us the ability to sponsor an industry-wide convention and trade show that will provide a wider audience. It will also provide OESP greater exposure to our industry as we will now be able to showcase our extensive technical education programming to owners and managers,” said Garber.