ILTA Member Feature: Jay Leduc, Sprague Energy
Jay Leduc, Managing Director of Health, Safety, Environment and Sustainability for Sprague Energy, initially became involved in the terminal industry upon completing his undergraduate degree in Systems Engineering at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.
He began working as an Environmental Engineering Consultant for a large east coast consulting firm located in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
“As an Environmental Engineer I worked on many different issues for a variety of industries, from metals contamination on old junkyard lots, to large property transactions between banks, to environmental remediation of former military bases both in the US and Canada,” Leduc said.
He would eventually be asked to relocate to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, following the consulting firm’s purchase of a smaller firm located in the east coast city. It’s there Leduc was tasked with helping existing employees set up the new office and help spread the company culture to their newly acquired offices.
“The agreement was that I would spend two years in the U.S. and then relocate back to Canada. While in the U.S., I worked with a variety of clients helping to conduct environmental assessments, but one client was a big box store interested in developing gas stations at their store locations to help increase customer traffic and spending,” Leduc recalled. “For two years, I worked with a team of professional engineers that designed, permitted and constructed large scale gas stations at over 100 locations across the eastern portion of the country.”
Nearing the end of his two-year agreement with the consulting firm, Leduc was approached by Irving Oil, who had questions regarding the importation of finished petroleum products from Canada to the U.S. He was soon hired by Irving Oil as their Corporate Director of HSE and Government Relations where he was responsible for the HSE performance within all of the business lines.
“I had worked for Irving Oil for over 13 years out of their Portsmouth office when I left in 2014 and joined Sprague Energy—both a customer and competitor of Irving Oil,” Leduc said. “I have been with Sprague ever since and I continue to work out of Portsmouth, never returning back to Halifax as originally planned.”
For Leduc, the best part of his job is the people he gets to work with.
“I have a team of 10 professionals on the HSE team at Sprague, and while we are always extremely busy and challenged, we still find the opportunities to enjoy each other’s company, work collaboratively, share our free time together and have fun at work,” Leduc said. “It’s often said it’s not necessarily what you know but who you know, and I can honestly say without knowing the people I’ve worked with along the way, especially the HSE team at Sprague, my career would never had been as half as rewarding or enjoyed.”
Leduc has certainly noticed changes in the industry over the course of his career; some of the time those changes occurring slowly. But today, Leduc sees them gaining in speed.
“When you consider that environmental regulations are becoming increasingly more stringent year upon year, products and fuels are constantly changing, and the fact that customer demand is a constantly moving target that’s impacted by a multitude of factors, then it should come as no surprise the industry has changed during my time, is currently in a state of transition, and will continue to change along with consumer demands,” Leduc said.
When it comes to his predictions for the future, Leduc sees continued changes over the next five, 10 or even 50 years.
“In the U.S., I think we’ll continue to see the streamlining of existing petroleum fuels with the reduction of higher sulfur fuels, in addition to a change that has already happened in Europe—a big push towards renewable and low carbon fuels such as hydrogen, renewable diesel, biofuels, etc.,” Leduc explained, noting that changes in the transportation, construction and power industries are already having an impact on the terminal industry.
“As the demand for lower carbon fuels continue to grow, and as pressure from the banking industry continues to increase, the terminal industry will have to change to be a part of the ongoing energy transition,” he said. “It’s no different than when the industry transitioned away from whale oil!”
When asked what he’d say to a young person to encourage them to enter the field, Leduc’s response is one focusing on opportunity and considering the endless possibilities.
“I would suggest they pull up map of the U.S. and/or world—showing the existing terminal locations spread out across a variety of locations and industries—and ask them to think of the possibilities that must exist within an industry the spans the globe, that touches the supply chain of almost every major industry, and that the world is dependent upon to allow for global trade,” he said.
Leduc suggests those who’ve already made the leap but are still just getting their start at a terminal company remember that terminals are always at the inflection point of change within the energy industry.
“There are little limits to the types of products, chemicals, and materials that can pass through a terminal, so hold on! Because things will continuously change and move with the times,” Leduc said, sharing a reminder to be open to new ideas and possibilities, as you can never predict where the demand of the consumer will lead the terminal industry next. “At Sprague, we often stop to remind employees and other stakeholders that Sprague started during the whale oil era, and without change, innovation and courage, the company would have been left behind decades ago.”
Leduc shared some insight into Sprague recently being purchased by Hartree Partners, transitioning the company from public to private.
“It has taken some getting used to, but the purchase by Hartree has been very beneficial and positive for Sprague as the owners look to grow the company,” Leduc said. “As part of Sprague’s integration into Hartree, my HSE team will be restructuring to become the Corporate HSE team for Hartree and all of their business units, which include a vast array of facilities in different industries from across the globe.
“It’s an exciting opportunity for me and my team and we are looking forward to increasing our roles into new regions and support the growth of both Hartree and Sprague.”
With ILTA, Leduc participates in the EHS Committee and is Co-chair of the Environment Committee, in addition to attending ILTA’s tradeshow and participating in other events as much as possible.
“The EHS Committee is extremely valuable and provides great access to some of the smartest minds in the industry,” he said.
Outside of work, Leduc could be found playing hockey three times a week, in addition to supporting his wife and two sons in whatever endeavors they want to pursue.
“As a Canadian, it’s very hard to give up [the sport], and I also now find myself coaching hockey for my two boys: Turner, the defenseman, and Ryder, the goalie,” Leduc said. “I also enjoy playing golf as much as possible and trying not to lose to my sons, who are increasingly better with time, the inverse being true for me!”