Jun
22

Investing in your Employees

Setting yourself apart in a competitive job market and keeping employees engaged is not an easy task – but it’s something my team does every day. Growing from a company of 50 employees 11 years ago, to more than 230 people, creates challenges and opportunities but we’re taking it head-on.

The team of six has made some substantial changes in the past year –introduction of a $15 minimum wage, creation of a formalized corporate wellness program, revamping the internal learning management system and updating the attendance policy to allow more flexibility.

One area where we have focused is creating more programs and initiatives to inspire and engage employees. We launched Gas South University, an internal learning management system, to improve competency-based training opportunities for all employees. It’s important for us to offer training and classes to all employees, especially the Customer Care agents. They are the voice and ears of the company – if they aren’t happy doing their job, we can’t provide an amazing customer experience.

 

I’m also proud that we recently received a Bronze Stevie Award in the 2017 American Business Awards in the HR Department of the Year category.

We’ve been busy at Gas South, but we want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to become a top workplace in Atlanta. Want to learn more about how we’re doing this? Read a recent article from HR Magazine where Secret Holland, Gas South HR director, shares her insights.

Jan
4

10 Accomplishments from Gas South’s 10th Year

In 2016, Gas South celebrated its 10th year of business, and it proved a pivotal one for the company.

We’re committed to cultivating a top workplace environment, providing exceptional customer service and supporting our local community. Here are 10 accomplishments from our 10th year that reaffirm our commitment to our culture, customers and the community:

Culture

  1. We earned a coveted spot on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s 2016 Top Workplaces for the first time. More than 2,500 companies and organizations applied and ultimately 165 were recognized, including Gas South. The rankings were based entirely on responses from an anonymous employee survey.
  2. We introduced a $15 minimum wage for all employees – more than double the federal rate and nearly triple Georgia’s minimum wage. The change resulted in pay increases for approximately 25 percent of the company’s workforce and most significantly impacted employees in Gas South’s customer care department.
  3. We celebrated our accomplishments with a 10-day event commemorating Gas South’s 10-year anniversary. The event series, “10 Days of Gas South,” included a daily theme to recognize and reward employees for their hard work and dedication. This campaign was recognized with a 2016 Phoenix Award from the Georgia Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.

Customers

  1. We made major strides with our customer care transformation – moving from a transactional mindset to a focus on building amazing long-term customer relationships. This included an internal reorganization that moved all customer calls out of the sales organization and into the customer care organization to improve our commitment to providing the best customer service.
  2. We improved our customer communications to be more proactive, informative and actionable. Our locally-based customer care team continues to assist customers by phone as well as increasingly through social media channels.
  3. We continued to expand our increasingly popular Pick Your Perk program. We added new Pick Your Perk options, and we are increasingly communicating this program through multiple channels. We even expanded our great discounts for local attractions like the Georgia Aquarium, Stone Mountain Park and the Atlanta Ballet with more promo codes and deals for our valued customers.

Community

  1. We sponsored the fifth annual Charity Cornhole Challenge at SweetWater 420 Fest, awarding the $10,000 grand prize to the Atlanta Community Food Bank, one of the largest hunger relief organizations in the Southeast, as the tournament winner.
  2. We partnered with Cobb EMC to provide a Home Energy Efficiency Makeover worth approximately $20k. The makeover winners, Wes and Shannon Pilgrim, received new energy-efficient appliances, a bill credit from Cobb EMC, two years of free natural gas service from Gas South, and a new HVAC unit, water heater, insulation and duct work from Cobb Heating and Air Association members.
  3. For the sixth year, Gas South’s Bring the Heat™ campaign raised money for local nonprofits. This year, Braves pitchers threw a total of 1,227 strikeouts, resulting in $61,350 raised for The Salvation Army of Metro Atlanta and United Way of Greater Atlanta.
  4. We participated in Hands On Atlanta Day where 50 Gas South employees volunteered a total of 200 hours at Camp Timber Ridge in partnership with the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta. We helped spruce up the campground – chopping wood, clearing roadways, putting up new tents and painting pavilions.

As we reflect on our accomplishments in 2016, we’re excited for our 11th year and everything that is to come in 2017!

Oct
31

Tips to Avoid Five Natural Gas Nightmares

Halloween is here, the weather is getting chilly, and things are about to get a little spooky. But, have no fear – we have a few tips (no tricks!) up our sleeves to help you avoid five natural gas “nightmares!”

Nightmare #1
Unexpectedly high bills can be frightening – especially when you’re not used to having your heat turned on for the past few months – but there are ways you can save on your home energy costs.

One thing you can do is invest in a programmable thermostat. During the winter months, we recommend setting your thermostat to 60 degrees when you’re away and 68 degrees when you’re home. You can save about 5 percent on heating costs for every degree lowered in the winter months. And of course, you can do this manually if you don’t have a smart thermostat.

Nightmare #2
Remember to change the filter in your furnace or air handler regularly. A dirty air filter can cause a lot of hocus pocus – forcing your system to work harder to push air throughout your home. This results in increased energy usage, which also means a higher bill. Not to mention the added creepy crawlies like dust and allergens that can’t be properly filtered out. To avoid this potential nightmare, most HVAC companies recommend inspecting, cleaning or replacing the filter every month during the summer and winter seasons. 

Nightmare #3
Don’t let carbon monoxide creep up on you. There are easy ways to maintain your household, so you can breathe easy. Think of carbon monoxide as a ghost – you can’t see it even if it’s there. It’s a tasteless, odorless substance produced from the combustion of carbon-based substances. It can be emitted from fireplaces, faulty furnaces, generators, water heaters and other heat sources. If inhaled, carbon monoxide can be very dangerous.

Everyone should have a carbon monoxide detector in their home that will alert you when carbon monoxide levels are elevated. It’s also a good rule of thumb to never use grills, generators or camping stoves inside the home, and never leave a car running in the garage without opening the garage door. Car exhaust is one of the substances most commonly associated with carbon monoxide poisoning. Lastly, never ever try to heat your home using your stove.

Nightmare #4
A natural gas leak is the scariest of all nightmares, but there are simple ways to identify a potential leak. Because natural gas is a colorless, odorless fuel, we add a chemical odorant called mercaptan that gives natural gas the smell that’s often associated with rotten eggs. This distinctive scent allows you to detect a potential leak if it occurs. So keep a nose out for that!
When you’re inside your home, you can also listen for an eerie blowing or hissing sound. A sign of a leak outdoors may be indicated by dead or discolored vegetation in an otherwise green area as well as dirt or dust blowing from a hole in the ground, or bubbling in wet or flooded areas.

If you detect a natural gas leak, remain calm and leave your home immediately. There’s no secret potion to fix a gas leak, but you can call Atlanta Gas Light at 877.427.4321 and emergency responders at 911 once you are in a safe place – away from the area of the suspected leak. Stay put until emergency personnel say it’s safe to return.

Nightmare #5
Besides asking ‘Trick-or-Treat?you should ask –Have I turned on my natural gas yet?” For seasonal natural gas customers, it’s important to sign up early so you have heat as soon as temperatures begin to drop. A lot of folks wait until it gets cold to schedule their service, but sooner is always better since it takes a few days to schedule Atlanta Gas Light to come to your house, make sure the gas line is safe and turn on your gas.

Oct
21

Leading with Love and Support

 

 

Yesterday, I was recognized by the Atlanta Business Chronicle as one of the 2016 Women Who Mean Business. Each year, this distinction honors women leading, inspiring and shaping Atlanta.

When I found out I was among the 20 honorees, I was shocked, honored but mostly just humbled. I’m grateful to have my efforts in the office, the natural gas industry and our local community at large acknowledged in such a heartening way. I try to base everything I do on helping whoever I can, whenever I can, in whatever way I can and to the very best of my ability. This is what drives me forward every day.

“Always speak to people with kindness and respect because it may be the only positive interaction they have that day.” Those words of advice, spoken to me by a close friend, have remained with me throughout my career as one of the best lessons I’ve learned. I believe every person with whom I come in contact can say that’s true of me.

Decades later, my advice to others, particularly women climbing the corporate ladder, is to always reach back and reach out. I believe we ascend the ladder of success, rung by rung, with the support of others. I try to uplift others by spreading positivity and enthusiasm, offering career advice and volunteering my skills. We should all be helping and supporting others at every moment possible.

Doing the right thing is sometimes a simple act, yet the results can be powerful. I want to give the sincerest thanks to the Atlanta Business Chronicle for this award and to my friends, family, mentors and colleagues for their continuous love and support.

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
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.

FullSizeRender (2)

  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.
Mar
23

Community Partner Spotlight – MUST Ministries

Gas South is committed to supporting the communities we serve through our Gas South Cares program. Through this program, we partner with some of the most effective nonprofit organizations in the state. Gas South would like to feature one of our most enriching partnerships, one that we are proud to work with all year long.

MUST Ministries is a volunteer-driven organization providing a range of services to needy people, from food and clothing to job training. We recently spoke with Don Crampton of MUST Ministries to learn more about the organization.MUST-Ministries-300x300What is your organization’s mission?   

Serving our neighbors in need; transforming lives and communities in response to the call of Christ.

Why is your organization’s mission important?   

MUST Ministries serves close to 34,000 people in eight north Georgia counties. We’re the largest safety net for the poorest, most desperate residents in this region. MUST helps them meet their immediate needs for food, shelter, and clothing, while also providing longer-term resources, like counseling and training needed for employment.

Is there an upcoming initiative you would like to highlight? 

The MUST’s Summer Lunch program serves approximately 5,000 children per day in eight counties. In 2014, 254,000 sack lunches reached hungry children in our 19th year of meeting this tremendous need. Thousands of volunteers made sandwiches, packed lunches, checked sacks, drove lunches to sites, contributed supplies, donated money and partnered in a host of ways to be sure children would not go hungry. [If you’re interested in donating your time to the Summer Lunch program, check out this site.]

How has Gas South’s partnership benefitted your organization?

We are extremely honored to have the support of Gas South for the past five years. Their desire to serve is demonstrated by their actions. Gas South has helped MUST Ministries in all areas, through volunteerism as well as corporate contributions. In particular, Gas South is a sponsor of our two largest fundraising events, the Safe Refuge Gala and the Annual Thanksgiving Day Gobble Jog. Gas South is also a major supporter of our Summer Lunch program and is the lead sponsor for our Step Up Your Game: Getting People Back to Work seminar.

What have Gas South employees done to help MUST Ministries?

Several Gas South employees have volunteered over the years to serve at MUST Ministries. More specifically, Gas South has been one of the lead participants in our employment education area, offering assistance in helping our clients to enhance resume writing skills and prepare for job interviews.

Gas South has worked with MUST Ministries for over five years, and we’d like to encourage you to get involved with the organization. For more information on how to donate or volunteer, click here.

Mar
12

Employee Spotlight – Mary Crane Orne

Mary-Crane-Orne-150x150Mary Crane Orne, senior account manager, has been working for Gas South for more than two years. Born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, Orne is looking forward to the biggest celebration of the year in her hometown on St. Patrick’s Day. With the holiday quickly approaching, we spoke with Orne to learn more about her family traditions surrounding the holiday and the town that hosts the celebration every year.

What are some of the things you and your family do in Savannah to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

Growing up, I was in the choir at an all-girls Catholic school, St. Vincent’s Academy, and we would sing a few times each week during the month leading up to St. Patrick’s Day throughout different locations in the city. We sang at various events and for numerous groups – including nursing homes, the airport, restaurants and festivals for the grand marshal. Attending some of the events continues to be a tradition for my family during the weeks leading up to the big day.

The “Greening of the Fountain” ceremony is held the Friday before St. Patrick’s Day in Forsyth Park and the Saturday before the 17th, we attend both the Tybee Island Parade and the Tara Feis Irish Celebration. The celebration is a festival located downtown with Irish dancing, food, crafts and live music.

On the morning of St. Patrick’s Day, my family and I attend mass at the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist for the feast day of Saint Patrick. After mass, everyone in Savannah quickly finds a place on the street to get the best view of the parade. We set up our spot inside Chippewa Square, which is known for the famous park bench scenes from “Forrest Gump.” Once our spot is claimed, we set up tents, tables, chairs and plenty of food and drink for all, and wait patiently for the parade to start!

What do you enjoy most about St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah?

The St. Patrick’s Day parade is a “coming home” for many Savannahians, so I’m looking forward to seeing old friends. I’m also looking forward to seeing the grand marshal, the families of past grand marshals, school groups, bands and other groups in the parade. Once the parade is over, I’ll find a pub – all of which are Irish on March 17th – listen to bagpipers and try my luck at Irish dancing!

What would you tell someone considering a trip to Savannah during St. Patrick’s Day?

Make sure you wear comfortable shoes and come ready to have a great time! The city closes down for the celebration and towards River Street it’s a wild party, but away from the river, a lot of families enjoy the festivities together.

One last tip – on St. Patrick’s Day, when someone greets you with the phrase, “Top of the mornin’ to ya’ ” you must respond back saying, “And the rest of the day to you.”

Erin go bragh!

Mar
5

Community Partner Spotlight – Action Ministries

Action Ministries is a non-profit organization providing a wide range of services to Georgians who have fallen on hard times. By meeting basic needs of hunger relief, housing and education, Action Ministries removes barriers that prevent thousands of Georgians from breaking the cycle of poverty and realizing their potential. We recently spoke with Rebecca Whicker of Action Ministries to learn a bit more about the organization:

 What is your organization’s mission?  

Action Ministries mobilizes communities to address the challenges of poverty by focusing on hunger relief, housing and education.

 Why is your organization’s mission important?   

Georgia has the second largest number of homeless children in the nation, it ranks second highest in the nation in the number of homeless veterans, and it has more than one million children who are food insecure. Last year, Action Ministries was able to serve over 140,000 people with the help of partners and volunteers. We want to break the cycle of poverty and ensure that everyone has the tools they need to reach their full potential.

 Is there an upcoming initiative you would like to highlight? 

Our Smart Lunch, Smart Kid program is an initiative we prepare for year round. We also have our Feed the Hungry Food Box initiative, and we’ve made it easier to get involved. If any of your readers would like to help feed a hungry family they can text FOODBOX to 41444 and donate from their mobile phone. If your readers would like to keep up with the action and receive periodic updates from Action Ministries, they can text ACTIONHERO to 51555.

 How has Gas South’s partnership benefitted your organization?

Gas South has given its time to support our hunger relief efforts through Smart Lunch, Smart Kid and Feed the Hungry. In the summer of 2014, with the financial and volunteer support, we were able to provide over 219,000 lunches to children in need. Gas South’s financial and volunteer support of our Food Box initiative will help us provide more than 400,000 meals to hungry families over the next few years

What have Gas South employees done to help Action Ministries?

Gas South employees participate in lunch-making events throughout the summer, providing meals to children who receive free and reduced-price lunches during the school year but are at risk of going hungry during the summer break. Gas South employees have also helped pack food boxes at our Feed the Hungry warehouse. We love our Gas South volunteers!

Gas South has worked with Action Ministries since 2012, and we’d like to encourage you to get involved with the organization. For more information on how to volunteer, click here or if you would like to donate, click here.

Feb
12

Gas South invites a special group of Atlanta-area children to experience The Greatest Show on Earth

Gas South is excited to take over 300 children with special needs and their families to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Legend Circus for a truly magical experience.

This will be Gas South’s sixth year taking children to the circus, and it is always the highlight of my year.

The children and their families will be hosted on the show floor to participate in hands-on activities such as face painting, interacting with circus performers, and dressing up with the clowns. Activities are designed for children with a range of special needs who otherwise may not be able to enjoy the “Greatest Show on Earth.”

pic1-300x199 Take a look at the smiles on these kids’ faces at last year’s event

The pre-show activities are designed specifically for children with a range of special needs. Children with hearing impairments will be provided with sign language interpreters for the floor show and circus performance, while the pre-show elements for children with visual impairments will focus on touch and sound experiences. Feld also works with each venue to provide wheelchair access and seating for other mobility devices.

pic2-300x199Isaac Afolabi of Duluth gives a thumbs up to Jimmy Burnette, mayor of Suwanee, Ga., at last year’s Magical Journey

We’re grateful to our partners, the Metro Atlanta Mayors Association, the Georgia Municipal Association and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Circus producer, Feld Entertainment for making these events possible each year.

This event allows the children and their families, who rarely get the opportunity to enjoy the simple thrills of childhood, to take a break from the day-to-day challenges they face and just have fun for a night.

pic3-300x199Parents, Todd and Lila Cooperiter of Brookhaven, soak in the moment with son, Colin at last year’s Magical Journey

We hope you can join us for a fun night at the circus!

Gas South customers can save 20 percent on tickets to The Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey® Circus. Click here to check out the offer, and we’ll see you at the circus!