National Women’s History Month: Teresa Bowman
Teresa Bowman is a Customer Service Center Manager for our Norton VA location. She started her career with Suburban Propane over 40 years ago as a Customer Service Representative in Richlands, VA for Pargas – a company acquired by Suburban Propane in 1986. At that time, she began the Manager Training program which included hands-on training working for several weeks with service techs and delivery drivers. She learned to drive a bobtail, fill tanks, help set tanks, dig and run gas lines, clean heaters and perform leak/system tests. The onsite trainers made sure she was tested on the same aspects of the job that men were tested on.
After completing the training process, she became manager in 1988 at our Norton, VA was told by upper management that, “I was the first woman propane manager in the state of Virginia (no pressure). When arriving at Norton, it was a little challenging at first, because I was the youngest employee, a new manager, and a woman,” said Teresa. After a few months the employees soon adjusted to the idea of having a female manager and over the years, this Customer Service Center began to see an increase in customer growth that resulted in hiring one more office representative, one more service technician and bobtail driver.
After a few years she was transferred to the Richlands, VA location where she was a Customer Service Center Manager until 2001. During the time between being a Customer Service Center Manager at both Norton and Richlands, VA from 1988-2001, she received the prestigious President’s Award twice as well awarded Employee of the Year. “I could not have won these awards without the help of the employees at these locations,” she said.
On December 2001 she left the company to do missionary work, however, due to the attacks of 9/11 that year, she was unable to carry out her missionary travel plans. Instead, she chose to give back to her local community by helping in food pantries, providing Thanksgiving and Christmas meals for families, donating to the Red Cross as well as supporting local counties’ Christmas and homeless donation drives.
The following year in 2002, she was asked to return to the Norton, VA location to help out in the office. Shortly after returning to Suburban Propane as a Customer Service Representative, she became the Operations Manager. In 2016 she once again became the Customer Service Center Manager for the Norton, VA. According to Teresa, “Knowing Suburban Propane is a company who cares for the safety and wellbeing of their employees, encourages taking care of local communities, supports the Red Cross and helps veterans is why I returned and have been with Suburban Propane for all these years. I always tell new employees, if Suburban Propane wasn’t a good company to work for, I would not have stayed around for over 40 years.”
During her 42 years with the company, one of the most interesting things she’s learned is that “no matter how many years you’ve been in the same industry, it doesn’t mean you know everything about that industry. I have learned a lot over the years from both seasoned and new employees, drivers and service techs, office personnel, managers and customers.”
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