Sep
28

Millennials: Attracting Cobb’s Next Generation of Leaders

At a recent Cobb Chamber event, I shared my perspectives as a local business leader on how Cobb County is attracting and cultivating the next generation of leaders. The county has a legacy of leadership, and it’s one we hope to continue through the recent influx of millennials and the overall boom in economic activity.

From 2010 to 2015, the millennial population in the Cumberland area alone has increased by about 32 percent, making this the fastest growing millennial population in metro Atlanta. Cobb County has also been ranked one of the top millennial suburbs based on the number of millennial residents, job opportunities, and access to housing, restaurants and other nearby entertainment venues.

Drawing from these data points and my personal experience, here’s why Cobb County is a great place for millennials to work, live and play.

Work: Business is booming, and opportunities are endless for the millennial workforce. According to the Cobb Chamber’s 2016 Economic Development Guide, the county created and retained nearly 5,225 jobs with an estimated $313 million in new investments in 2015. Comcast, The Home Depot, RaceTrac, The Weather Channel and now the Atlanta Braves all call Cobb home, and so does Gas South. In 2006, we selected Cobb’s Cumberland area for our headquarters, and we continue to grow where we’re planted. In 2014, we extended our lease through 2025 and doubled our office space to accommodate our growth as we insourced our customer care team. Within the walls of our organization, 40 percent of our workforce falls in the millennial cohort.

Live: With a cost of living below the national average, there’s no shortage of affordable housing options in Cobb. With its recreational amenities, rich arts community, top-notch educational institutions and transportation options, the Cobb County lifestyle is luring millennials, including many of our team members. Since 2013, 6,800 new residential units are either under construction or awaiting zoning approval. Many of these new projects involve mixed-use developments, such as The Battery Atlanta and Jamestown’s Riverview Landing, which make it easier than ever for millennial residents to have it all in a close proximity to where they live and work.

Play: For millennials that work hard and play hard, Cobb boasts more than 100 parks, the Cobb Energy Centre and plenty of local spots to meet up with friends. Not to mention, SunTrust Park and The Battery Atlanta, which are arguably the most notable projects in Cobb’s history. The new developments are already attracting quality investment. Improvements are underway to address traffic concerns and increase walkability, in addition to the benefits of increasing the tax base and creating new jobs.  From The Coca-Cola Roxy Theatre and King’s Bowling alley, to chef-driven restaurant concepts by Ford Fry and Linton Hopkins, it’s not news breaking to say that this will be a go-to destination.

Gas South is fortunate to have made Cobb County our home for our first 10 years business, and we are even more bullish as we enter our second decade as a corporate citizen.

Sep
21

The Gas South Winter Survival Guide

It may be hot now, but those cold winter months are right around the corner. If you’re worried about staying warm and keeping money in your pocket, we’re here to help!

We’ve put together a few tips and tricks to help throughout the cold winter months. You may be surprised by how a few simple changes can add up to big savings on your natural gas bill and keep you nice and toasty!

So, before the big chill comes, apply some of our Winter Survival Guide tips and show winter you mean business.

Bring the heat
This one is a given, but we’ll say it anyway: the best way to show winter who’s boss is to turn on the heat with a killer natural gas service provider. May we recommend Gas South’s fixed and variable rate plans? We hear they’ve got it going on.

Rate Plans: VARIABLE OR FIXED — Which One is Best for You?

What’s the difference?
Variable rate plans fluctuate every month according to market conditions. That means what you pay per therm this month could be more, less, or the same as the previous month. Fixed rates, on the other hand, are locked and remain unchanged throughout the term of your contract — usually 6, 12, 18 or 24 months.

Why go variable?

  • You plan to stay less than six months in your current residence.
  • You prefer not to commit to a contract.

Why go fixed?

  • You can save money. Fixed rates are generally lower than Variable rates.
  • A consistent rate helps you better manage your household budget.

Install a Programmable Thermostat
If you don’t have one yet, get one ASAP. They allow you to program temperature settings by time and day, meaning you can set the temperature lower during the hours you’re out at work or on vacation, and have it automatically raise before you return, so you’re walking into a nice and warm home. These beauties can save up to 15% on energy costs — a big return for a small investment.

Set Your Thermostat to 68º
Keeping comfortable and saving energy is important — and setting your thermostat to 68 degrees achieves both in cold weather. For every degree you lower your thermostat below 70, you’ll save an easy 5% on your heating costs. So, just a 2-degree decrease, from 70 to 68 degrees, rounds up to a nice 10% cut in your energy expenses.

With that said, DON’T turn the heat off while you’re away. It takes more energy to bring your home back to a comfortable temperature, and your pipes could burst if the temperature drops below freezing. Instead, simply lower your thermostat down a few degrees to save.

Increase Ceiling Insulation
Looking for a quick 5-25% reduction in heating loss? You can find it right above your head. If your ceiling isn’t properly insulated, it’s letting warm air out and costing you serious change as your thermostat works constantly to keep the temperature up. For best results, consider increasing your insulation to R-38.

Flip Your Fan Switch
If your ceiling fan has a reverse switch, you’ll want to flip that when you turn your heat on, making your fan’s blades spin clockwise. This causes the fan to produce an updraft, forcing the hot air that rises to your ceiling down and into the rest of the room.

Seal Ducts and Plug Door and Window Leaks
Another often overlooked energy-waster is leaking ductwork, which can account for more than 25-30% of heating costs in some homes! Check the tightness of ducts and be sure to plug any visible open spots with insulation material. While you’re at it, check your doors and windows — they could be responsible for wasting 10% of your energy costs. It’s worth fixing this by installing weather-stripping or caulk around leaky doors and windows.

There you have it – a winter survival guide that leaves you warm and stress-free financially. If you need help getting your natural gas up and running this winter, drop us a line!

Sep
14

CNG: The Next Big Kid on the Alt-Vehicle Block?

One of Our Employees Thinks So

Alternative fueled vehicles have attracted a lot of attention in the last few years, but the media buzz has mostly centered around electrics due to improved battery efficiency and Tesla’s loud arrival on the scene. However, petroleum has another competitor looming on the horizon: compressed natural gas (CNG). Yes, the same fuel used to heat your home also powers many of the commercial and transportation vehicles you see on the road every day. Last year, for example, MARTA announced plans to buy 270 new CNG buses, adding to the 420 already in its fleet.

With an abundance of domestic reserves to draw from and, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, a 90- to 97- percent reduction of carbon monoxide emissions versus petroleum, CNG is primed for continued growth. We’ve also seen significant enhancements to CNG’s commercial infrastructure and an increase of refueling stations. In Georgia, Gas South has helped lead the way by supplying stations, transit systems and waste management fleets with natural gas.

How long will it be until you’re fueling up on CNG? Probably not for a few years, but don’t rule it out in the future. CNG vehicles are already being introduced into the consumer marketplace, albeit without media fanfare, and by most measures they’re showing early promise. In fact, one of our mid-market sales account managers, Craig Hallerman, recently acquired one, a 2016 Chevrolet Impala hybrid. So, we thought it’d be a great idea to share his thoughts on his new ride, which has been attracting a lot of attention among travelers and car enthusiasts on Atlanta’s highways.

Q: Why did you take the plunge and get a CNG vehicle?
A: “I wasn’t in the market for an alternative fueled vehicle but because I work in the natural gas industry, I looked into it. Gas South took care of wrapping the car in company branding because I do a lot of driving, so it gets lots of visibility – and compliments. I average about 500 miles a week, and as a clean-burning fuel, CNG is considered better for the life of an engine, so that’s something that caught my interest.”   

Q: How does the car perform in general – notice any major differences?
A: “It’s super nice and really comfy. Honestly, it feels like I’m driving a regular Chevy.”

Q: But it’s a hybrid, meaning it runs on gas and CNG. Sounds complicated. Is it?
A: “Not really. There are two separate tanks – a traditional gas tank and the natural gas tank is behind the back seat. There are also two fuel gauges – the car defaults to natural gas until it runs out, and then it switches to the regular gas tank.”

Q: Tell us how you go about fueling the vehicle.
A: “I don’t have a home-fueling device so I go to a commercial station to fill up on natural gas. There are 15 stations in the city, including one that’s on my way home.”     

Q: Fuel efficiency is a major reason why people look at alternative fuel options. Are you noticing any differences between the two?
A: “On the highway, natural gas certainly gets better mileage but regular gas seems to do better in the city. Right now, I’m averaging in the high 20s on the highway and about 18-20 in the city.”

Q: Have you found any other perks of driving an alternative fueled vehicle?A: “Yes, one big one: less traffic because Georgia gives alternative fueled vehicles HOV-lane access. That makes it easier driving around Atlanta, especially during rush hour…and my job requires a lot of driving.”

Q: Is obtaining a CNG vehicle the same as you would expect for a regular car?
A: “It’s different. It started with a conversation with GM reps and then I went to a dealership to build the car. It was a six month process. The Impala was built in Canada and then sent to Detroit for outfitting.”

Q: How long can you drive on the tanks before refueling?
A: “I can go up to 500 miles before running out of gas, which means that I can use the vehicle for all of my needs.”

Have a story to share about a CNG vehicle or a question for Craig about his car? Just let us know in the comments.

Sep
8

Gas South Family Fun Day 2016

Gas South employees, family members and friends turned out to our annual Family Fun Day at Six Flags, despite the record high temperatures! Every year we invite employees to get together outside the office to have some fun, and to thank them for all the hard work and time they put forth during the year. It’s also a great opportunity to thank our family members for their support of us each and every day.

This year 347 people attended Family Fun Day!

We love being able to meet and hang out with everyone’s families! Having some down time, riding roller coaster rides and face painting really brings a group together. And did we mention food?

Employees and guests were given free tickets to Six Flags all day and then everyone met in the reserved pavilion for a picnic where we heard from Gas South’s President and CEO, Kevin Greiner, as he took time to thank employees and guests.

 

It was a great day and fun was had by all! We’re already looking forward to next year!

Aug
31

Providing a Living Wage for Gas South’s Employees

There are certain moments as a business leader when you can pause and feel really proud about the work your company is doing. For me, yesterday was one of those days as we announced Gas South’s commitment to providing a living wage for all employees.

Beginning September 1, all hourly Gas South employees will earn a minimum wage of $15 per hour, which is more than double the federal rate. The Atlanta Business Chronicle first reported on the story, and the positive news has echoed throughout the local media landscape. We appreciate the support and how this announcement has spread through our community.

The decision to increase the minimum wage for hourly employees at Gas South was a simple one. It’s our goal to always provide an exceptional customer experience. To do that, we must be a top place to work with a motivating environment for our employees.

Our leadership team understands that exceptional service is made possible only by the hard work and commitment of our employees – the people who live out our commitment to customer service with the utmost efficiency and integrity. They deserve fair, competitive compensation for their work, and excellent pay along with benefits like health care, paid time off, and retirement contributions are all part of what makes Gas South a great place to work.

To sum, our wage increase boils down neatly to this:

  • Approximately 25 percent of the company’s overall workforce will see an increase in pay, specifically employees working in our customer care department.
  • The average wage increase among those affected is four percent with a maximum increase of 8.3 percent.

I’d also like to note to customers that this change will benefit them as well. Our rates will be just as competitive as they have always been, and we’ll continue to provide unparalleled value to our customers. In fact, we believe that even as we raise our hourly pay, our costs of doing business will go down. That’s because a $15 minimum wage will allow us to attract and retain the very best customer care employees, providing them with greater financial security and ultimately enhancing productivity. Therefore, we see a $15 minimum wage for our team members as a win for the company, our employees and our customers.

At the end of the day, each business has to make decisions based on what is right and what is possible within its own scope. Our decision to commit to a $15 minimum wage for our employees is not a political statement; it’s a Gas South statement. At Gas South, ensuring that each member of our team earns a living wage is a priority and it’s something that makes good business sense for our company.

Aug
24

Seasonal Natural Gas Customer?

It Pays to Schedule Your Reconnection Date Early!

These days, you’re probably wearing shades and shorts, lathered in sunscreen, grilling out, and trying to stay cool during Georgia’s unforgiving summer heat. So, let’s assume that you haven’t been thinking about your natural gas service much lately. That’s understandable – you’re focused on today’s realities.

But, with football and the next season of the Walking Dead around the corner, aren’t you thinking ahead to the fall anyway? Then let’s get you thinking about natural gas again because we want to save you time, money and potential hassle.

So here are a couple of tips to ensuring a stress-free, money-smart way to reconnect with your old flame (meaning Gas South, of course):

1. Schedule your reconnection date at your earliest convenience. You’ve heard the one about the early bird and the worm. And the same applies to your natural gas service. A lot of customers wait until it gets cold to schedule their service, by which time you may find yourself duking it out with others for a reconnection date that works for you. Worse, you could also miss out on saving instant money! That’s because Gas South is waiving the $95 reconnection fee for all customers who schedule their reconnection date by September 15th. So do the smart thing: contact us now, save the money, and feel good knowing that your home will be nice and cozy come October.

2. Choose a fixed rate plan. If you know us, then you know we’ll almost always tell you to select a fixed rate over a variable rate, unless you’re moving soon. Fixed rates stay the same, are better value, and ours are some of the most competitive available.

3. Do whatever you like — hike Stone Mountain, go to the opera, catch a Braves game. Your to-do list got a little lighter, and we’d be happy to treat you to free tickets for some great Atlanta-area entertainment through our Pick Your Perk program – another cool thing about being a Gas South customer.

So don’t wait another day to schedule your reconnection date. Call or visit before September 15th. That way, when it gets cold, you won’t have to think about your natural gas.

Call: 1-888-290-4727 and mention SEASONAL.
Visit: gas-south.com/seasonal

Aug
11

How to Turn On Your Natural Gas

The Gas South Guide

Getting utilities up and running can be a hassle. We get it — we’ve been there! There’s research to be done, calls to be made and sometimes, a lot of time sitting on hold.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. At Gas South, we’re here to make it easier.

Whether you’ve just moved or you simply need to turn your service back on, you’re going to need natural gas service at some point. Fortunately, the process of getting your gas turned on can be a cinch! Just use this simple, four-step guide and you’ll be ready to go in no time.

  1. Check for service availability in your area

Not every natural gas provider serves all areas of the state, so it’s important to check for service availability before you are set on one provider. Most providers post this information directly on their website. If you’re moving to Georgia and looking to find out more, we have just the  page just for you!

It’s also worth noting that if you’re signing with Gas South, you could qualify for an additional discount if your home or apartment falls within a territory covered by our county, city and EMC programs (check out this page for a full list of partners within the program).

  1. Do your research on natural gas providers

Georgia is unique in that it’s a deregulated gas industry. Which means that you can choose a provider for your natural gas, instead of having only one option and I being chosen for you.

The good news is that there are a lot of options out there to choose from, and Gas South stands out among the providers…if we do say so ourselves.

We won’t go on and on about our own services — you can learn all about those on our Residential Page. But we will tell you that whichever provider you choose, they shouldn’t charge you a deposit to establish service. With Gas South, this can save you up to $150. Pretty cool, huh?

  1. Determine how long you need your natural gas service turned on at your residence

Once you’ve found a provider you like, you’ll want to think about how long you need service. When you think about utilities, you may not be thinking about the timeframe during which you’ll be using them, but this can have a big impact on the type of rate plan you choose, and the price you pay!

By nailing down a specific timeline, you’ll know which type of rate plan to choose right off the bat – variable or fixed (keep in mind not all providers feature both).

If you’re going to be a resident for longer than six months, a fixed rate can save you money because currently, fixed rates are lower than variable rates. Variable rates fluctuate with the natural gas markets, while fixed rates stay the same throughout your entire service period. Fixed rates can offer significant savings over a long period of time, especially during the high consumption months of winter.

  1. Pick a turn-on date that fits your schedule

Once you have your provider picked out, it’s time to schedule your natural gas turn on date and time. If your natural gas is completely turned off, a technician needs to come to your house to turn it on. If the gas is already on, all the tech needs to do is check the meter and make sure everything is up and running correctly, and safely.

With Gas South, you can schedule your turn on date 60 days in advance, which means you can lock in a great rate today, all while having ample time to prepare for winter weather. All you have to do is schedule your turn on date and leave the rest to us!

There you have it! Now that you have the steps down, don’t hesitate to reach out to a Gas South Customer Care Representative if you have any additional questions, or if you want more information on our rates and plans!

Aug
4

4 Professional Development Lessons from a Gas Pipeline

IMG_1038As an HR professional in the natural gas industry, drawing the connection between a career pipeline and a gas pipeline was an ‘aha’ moment – and a teachable lesson that really resonated with me. Here’s an excerpt from my recent presentation at the Women’s Energy Network, Greater Atlanta Chapter meeting on four professional development lessons from a natural gas pipeline.

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  1. Maintenance: Over time, gas pipelines require regular maintenance and upkeep to ensure they continue to safely and properly deliver natural gas to homes and businesses. Most industries are ever-changing, which requires you to continually fine-tune your skills and hone your craft to stay on top of your game. Every day is an opportunity to continue learning and finding ways to add more value.
  1. Growth: Maintenance alone isn’t enough – gas pipelines need to be primed for long-term sustainability so they continue to serve the growing needs. Similarly, your career needs to be targeted for growth opportunities. As you move up the corporate ladder from refining skills to refining behaviors, you’ll polish more nuanced competencies such as interpersonal skills, organization habits and critical thinking.
  1. Supply and Demand: As supply and demand have leveled out recently, so has the pricing of natural gas. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for today’s job market – especially in the metro Atlanta area where the supply of job candidates far outweighs the demand for available positions. If you find yourself hitting a road block in your career path, take a risk and find a new area where the demand is high but the supply is low. I’ve done this with my career, and it’s taken me in new, exciting directions from lobbying to PR.
  1. High Quality Service: Natural gas is a commodity, which makes it a very competitive environment for the 13 natural gas marketers in Georgia. At Gas South, we differentiate ourselves by providing an exceptional customer experience and always going above and beyond for our customers. Consistently producing a top quality work product and lightening the load for others around you will help you standout in your career and get a leg up on the competition.
Aug
2

1,215 Lunches Packed for Smart Lunch, Smart Kid

During the summer, many children go without a nutritious lunch that’s normally provided at school. Can you imagine? Feeling the excitement of summer, but not knowing if you’re going to eat that day? Or, if you’re a parent, you may have to leave your kids at home to go to work and you don’t know if they will eat that day. It’s something that no child or parent should have to worry about.

On July 20th, employees took a break from their normal routine to pack 1,215 lunches for Atlanta students who receive free or reduced lunch during the school year. The Smart Lunch, Smart Kid program is powered by Action Ministries and it ensures that these children are fed during the summer and school breaks. Unlike other similar programs, the organization delivers the lunches to the children in their neighborhoods which removes the possible issue of lack of access to transportation.

For the past five years, Gas South has packed lunches for this standout program and it’s always a great time!

The lunches were delivered to children who live in apartments in the Cascade Corridor, as well as apartments near Greater Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church. The lunches included a PB&J sandwich, chips, water, fruit snacks and fruit cups.

Jul
26

Customer Spotlight: 101 Steak

101-Steak

If you live in Vinings, chances are you haven’t had a bad meal in a long time. The Vinings restaurant community rivals that of many major metropolitan cities because it has some of the best southern cooking in the area.

New on the scene is Gas South customer, 101 Steak., the team behind Cibo e Beve, Food 101, Smoke Ring, and Meehan’s, opened 101 Steak last month and they have already started to become a neighborhood favorite.

Ribbon Cutting

101 Steak is a flavorful addition to the Vinings restaurant community, bringing locally sourced, quality ingredients to the table and serving them with the expertise and hospitality diners have come to expect from 101 Concepts. Featuring high-quality steaks and seafood, a raw bar and more than 100 wines by the glass, the contemporary chef-driven steakhouse offers a seasonal menu that incorporates global influences into à la carte favorites and a variety of creative side dishes.

Are you hungry yet? 101 Steak shared their recipe for roasted garlic and marscapone cheese dip. Enjoy!

Roasted Garlic and Marscapone Cheese Dip Recipe:
3 Heads Garlic
1 lb. Mascarpone Cheese
1/3 lb. Parmesan Cheese (grated)
1 Tbsp. Chopped Parsley
1 Tbsp. Chopped Chives
1 Tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
1 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
Salt and Pepper (to taste)

Method:
Wrap each head of garlic individually with a piece of aluminum foil and roast in a 350-degree oven for 45-60 minutes or until the garlic is very soft (the cooking of the garlic will mellow the harshness of it). Cool the garlic and then cut it in half, squeeze out the cloves in to a mixing bowl and smash the cloves with the back of a fork, then add all other ingredients and mix vigorously (if you have a food processor or an electric hand mixer this process will be a lot easier). Serve chilled in a decorative bowl and served with warm pita bread, tortilla chips, vegetable crudités, or it can be used in tortilla wraps or as a spread on sandwiches.

Be sure to follow 101 Steak on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/101steak/) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/101steak).