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Ferrellgas Partners LP Message Board

  • MichganNative MichganNative Jul 30, 2005 7:00 AM Flag

    Can someone explain...

    How can this company keep paying such a large dividend with negative earnings? I own a few shares and am wondering if it's a smart move to buy more, but I don't understand this negative earnings high dividend equation.

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    • How can you say the underground storage didnt make any money? Any one who works or should i say worked with fna knows that no matter what the cost of all the regulations storage made money hand over fist! I cant even begin to tell you how we are underpaid (compared to the rest of the imdustry) but we put out more gallons/barrls a day than what any retail facility ever thought about......i guess the press release said it all.....non stratgic assests.....well when a man can aquire something in an aquistion and make something a round $140 million...guess what? We as awhole are stratgic too some people. But i do have to give credit to all of the effected former were the back bone! Good job well done!

    • plainspoken wrote "I guess I just dont see how cost savings and streamlining can be seen as a negative."
      Here is what plainspoken is not telling you.
      As part of these cost savings and streamlining, they do not have the personnel now to be able to do the basic work.
      - Customer tanks are not getting painted, and in many cases nasty-looking tanks are being set for new customers.
      - There are literally thousands upon thousands of tanks at customer homes that need to be picked up as a result of losing customers. Soem of these tanks have been at the customer's home for years waiting for pickup.
      - Trucks are not being fixed for the most part and certainly not painted. So much for customer image.
      - No new trucks are being bought anymore to replace the junkers.
      - Very little service work is getting done anymore because of a lack of time, money and experienced people, and as a result problems found on customer installations are either not fixed or ignored.
      - Many safety programs have been done away with and a majority of safety managers terminated.
      - Many forklift cylinders are not being fixed and are just recycled back into the mix.

      This is just a few examples and I think these could all be seen as negatives. Is this any way to run things? Will these services come back when FG gets healthy? And in the mean time how many customers will be lost and how bad will FG's reputation get in the propane world? Investors need to know ow thinhgs are being run and if we are really on the right path. Tell me if I am wrong, plainspoken.

    • Propanesmart I completely agree with your observations. I am one of the mud and snow slogging gas pumpers that is keeping my mouth shut to keep food on the table. Jobs are pretty scarce in my area, and I've seen alot of good, loyal employees leave either voluntarily or otherwise. At this point, I'm not sure where we are headed or how long I'll be working. I know that FGP stock is coveted for the dividend, but I hope the folks on the message board that berate the concerned employees would think before they post. I believe that if they were in "our" shoes, they would act a little differently.

    • By the way, I suspect Jim is in fact listening but has a hard time reconciling comments made on this board with those he hears from his VPs and managers. Troops on the ground look pretty fuzzy from 50,000 feet. All in all, I respect Jim. It's his henchmen that should be regarded as shady.

    • Check your facts. 401k match was reinstated 8/1/2005. Last time I checked, 4 days didn't come close to being months.

    • That's an easy one. The tools are all there but the implimentation of those tools by current leadership is very poor. The timing of some of the cuts have caused serious operational issues. I don't disagree with some of the cuts and right sizing the business but Area/Regional Managers have gone too far in an effort to look good to Jim and their respective VPs. They feel that if they cut harder and deeper than their peers then they are seen as strong leaders. The truth is that they are too gutless to stand up and tell it like it is. What a shame.

    • propanebabbler....I like what you are saying and agree with most of your comments, but if the new system works, why would the employees need to speak up and give their opinions??? When they speak up or challange the system, they then become a target and are soon a formerFGemployee! (By the way, Jim hears us....but he is simply not listening!)

    • Let's be honest about this. The technology side of Project Renaissance works, it's the leadership that sucks right now. I don't care how good your new computer system and business model is, if you don't have managers with people skills then you will not be as good as you could be. Are there some good managers at FG? Absolutely. Are there some pompous, arrogant, intimidating managers without an upper lip at FG? You better believe it. The employees are scared and have learned that the quickest way to be shown the door is to have an idea or to challenge the methods used. We used to have a system whereby we listened to the employees who believe it or not had some good ideas. They weren't afraid to speak up and good managers weren't afraid to be challenged; in fact, it made them better managers and their employees respected them for it. Now we don't give a damn about the employees, their opinions, or whether they stay or leave. If they don't like it they can hit the road and we'll find someone that we can pay even lower wages to sit in the seat until winter is over and then we'll RIF them as well. Area Managers, or rather Regional Managers as they are now called, come into a Service Center, say everything looks great, leave by noon and you won't see them again for a month or more. They give us bogus sales pitches about how we're going to have realistic budgets (because we never have before) and how easily we'll be able to grow our business (Hi, I'm from FG and I've got a bunch of really high priced gas, want some?? Yeah, that one has worked great for us!) The sad thing is that the system could really be first class but until we get the guys who look good in suits but suck as managers gone FG will continue it's slow downward spiral. Are you listening Jim?

    • Very well put obviously were around FG long enough to see things go from good to bad to awful in just a short period of time. I was once told by a Project Renassiance administrator "just shut up and go haul gas". Before Project Renaissance, most days drivers would deliver 4,000 to 5,000 gallons per day and drive 50 to 75 miles. After Project Renaissance, our gallons dropped to 3,000 per day and miles increased to 125 to 150 miles per day, sometimes more. We would go past numerous customers and not stop by because the mobile device did not have that customer in for a delivery only to go right back there the next day and make a delivery of 300 gallons or more. Whenever a driver would question why are things being done this way, they would be threatened with their job....many are now gone. Those who remain still work under the threat of "shut up or be terminated". Plainspoken is a former area manager, now a VP, who watches this board to be certain his creation, Project Renassiance, doesn't take too many hits. He forgets, however, that VPs have short lives with FG and he should stop worrying about this message board and he should start listening to people who are being honest with him about Project Renassiance. Terminating employees and closing offices and starting up Econogas won't fix the problems. Good people fix problems.....but now it may be too late for FG.

    • Plainespoken, if you think the employees are happy you are sadly mistaken. Employees were threatened with termination and told not to ask questions when senior managment would come around for visits. Anyone challenging policies or the new business model, even to try to make things better, was terminated, especially at the beginning. Eventually, many of those terminated were found to be right and things were changed, but it was too late for those good people that lost their jobs. And for those investors that thing that the whiners and moaners needed to go, well, there were many good people that kept their mouths shut, were extremely dedicated and loyal to the company, and were willing to change that were let go only because of the quotas to get rid of people.
      Currently, employees are still faced with "management by intimidation". Senior management does not have the true story of how the "underlings" feel, but much of that is because there has been such an "elitist" and "bullying" society built at FG over the past few years by the young financial wizards who come in for a few years, try to make their mark, change the internal culture to reflect whatever leadership book was passed out at the annual meeting, and then are let go by Ferrell after 3-4 years. In the mean time, the people that are slogging through the snow and mud to make the money for the company suffer. They see confusion, the highest prices in the industry, lack of training, inept managers that no nothing about the propane business, a de-emphasis on serving the customer, having to drive trucks with problems that can't be fixed (especially bad when they see the company spend millions on a new corporate office for the sake of vanity), benefits taken away, computer systems that give inaccurate data, a general lack of concern from management about safety, and a senior management team that doesn't even follow the company's own leadership book (Plain Spoken Leadership). In short, the neither trust or respect the management of FG but they keep pumping the gas and making the money for them anyway.
      Some would say that if things are that bad why don't you just go find another job, but jobs just aren't that plentiful in many rural areas and most of us would rather make a deal with the devil to feed our families. Plus, we keep hoping that someone in the executive management will finally see the light and change things for the better (it sure isn't the current leadership, or lack thereof). If you think they are changing for the better with regards to the employees and customers, you are mistaken.

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