By Keefe Borden, CompressorTech2 Magazine
A half century is a long time, but the Eastern Gas Compression Roundtable has stayed relevant in the gas compression industry by consistently providing training programs that keep professionals up to speed with new developments in technology.
The organization’s 2022 conference was May 3-5, 2022 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, PA.
After 50 years, the Eastern Gas Compression Roundtable (EGCR) has grown into an industry powerhouse forum for training. It is run by a non-profit organization that gives high quality cost-effective education programs that focus on engine and compressor maintenance.
“For an event to survive 50 years is quite an accomplishment,” said Joyce Perhac, the organization’s executive director. “I do not see this event going away at all. It offers a valuable experience to end users to get training.”
Around 1,000 participants typically attend the event, which includes an exhibition hall and sponsorship opportunities in addition to the training.
The event’s training classes have evolved with new technologies and its format has evolved as well. The conference has always included training classes, but many participants have said they like the roundtable format discussion, which often offers the opportunity to question a range of industry experts.
“They really like to pick the brain of the experts,” she said.
As a result, the format has evolved from single person presentations to include more roundtable discussions, which were common in the early years of the conference.
The last show was three years ago, before the outbreak of COVID-19. The show was scheduled for May 2020, but was postponed because the pandemic had just broken out.
“A lot of our attendees are younger station operators with families,” she said.
“We did not want them to be exposed and see them go home to their families.”
The event was postponed and then ultimately canceled for 2020.
The same happened the following year when some of the variants started to break out. By then, many companies were still on lockdown. “We didn’t feel that we could offer them a quality event that we are known for,” she said.
The format of the event stays relevant by surveying participants to see what they like and dislike about the event and adjustments to the program for the following year are considered to continue offering the best educational opportunities possible to professionals in the gas compression industry.
Most participants are from North America because of the classes it offers to end users. “We’ve found our niche. We stay in our lane and we do pretty well with it,” Perhac said.
The EGCR board of directors is a committed group of volunteers who guide the organization each year. They meet in person three times a year to plan for the upcoming training program and to keep costs reasonable for the participants, she said.
The EGCR dates back to the early 1970s, when members of the growing natural gas industry needed a forum for education and training that specialized in engine and compressor systems.
Representatives from several end users, product manufacturers and industry suppliers met at the Lakeview Country Club in Morgantown, West Virginia in April 1972. Participants had a strong interest in promoting safety, innovation and education.
The group agreed to form the Eastern Gas Compression Roundtable as it would address the needs of local industry and provide a valuable resource for companies and their employees.
The organizers agreed the roundtable was a valuable forum to provide opportunities for people in the gas compression and related industries to extend their knowledge of the operation and maintenance of compression units and related equipment. The organizers have extended training to include professionals in engineering, gas control, automation and controls, management and environment, health and safety.
The first roundtable as it became known was held in May 1973 on the Evansdale Campus of West Virginia University in cooperation with the College of Mineral Energy Resources.