Q: Describe your company.
A: North Shore Gas is a utility company that provides natural gas service to about 160,000 North Shore Gas customers. Our customer base is made up of 54 municipalities in the northern/northwestern suburbs of Chicago. Our service territory begins in Winnetka and goes to the Illinois state line.
President & CEO North Shore Gas
200 E. Randolph St., Chicago, Illinois 60601
Industry: Natural Gas Provider/Utility
Annual Revenues: North Shore Gas' total revenues in 2015 were $194 million.
Number of employees: Approximately 175
Family information: Wife and two sons
Hometown: Macon, Georgia
Q: What is the connection with Peoples Gas and WEC Energy Energy Group?
A: Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas are both subsidiaries of WEC Energy Group and regulated natural gas delivery companies. Peoples Gas serves about 830,000 customers in Chicago. North Shore Gas serves about 159,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in 54 communities within the northern suburbs of Chicago.
Q: What will your company's main challenges be in the next year?
A: Two of our biggest challenges will be continuing to integrate our company with the WEC Energy post acquisition. WEC Energy acquired North Shore Gas in June 2015, just before I became CEO and president. And preparing for the attrition we will have over the next five years because 50 percent of our field workforce at North Shore Gas will become eligible for retirement.
Q: Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make significant capital investments in the next year?
A: Over the next year, we plan to maintain our current staffing levels, as well as our capital spending.
Q: What is one funny thing that has happened to you in your career?
A: It was something that falls in the category of irony and embarrassment versus humor. When I was CEO at Jamaica Public Service, the electric utility in Jamaica, there was a power outage during Queen Elizabeth's visit to meet with the Prime Minister. Even though the outage wasn't the utility's fault, I took the blame. It was very embarrassing, nonetheless.
Q: If you had one tip to give to a rookie CEO, what would it be?
A: My tip would be to understand and accept that you don't know all the answers.
Q: Do you have a business mantra?
A: Yes. Every employee has to determine how they will support the company's objectives, and how they will add value, every day.
Q: From a business outlook, whom do you look up to?
A: I look up to Warren Buffett because he invests in companies that are well managed, provide core services and products such as energy and electricity and are focused on the fundamentals.
Q: What is one interesting fact about you or your company that most people may not know?
A: North Shore Gas was formed in 1900 -- we turned 116 years old this year.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
A: In my free time, I like to read about business, play golf and spend time with my family.
Q: What book is on your nightstand?
A: "Lincoln on Leadership" by Donald T. Phillips. The CEO of WEC Energy, who is also my boss, provided this book to the senior leaders across our company.
Q: What keeps you up at night?
A: Keeping our employees and customers safe. Our employees have tough jobs and are often faced with situations that can impact their safety. In terms of our customers, we want to make sure they have the information they need to use our products safely in their homes or businesses.
Q: If you were not doing this job, what do you think you would be doing?
A: I'd be running a nonprofit organization.
Q: What was your first paying job?
A: I was a newspaper carrier in elementary school.
Q: If you could put your company name on a sports venue, which one would you choose?
A: Personally, I don't believe in spending a lot of money for naming rights to build a company's brand. A brand should be built around what the company and its employees stand for and represent, not naming rights.
Q: Two people to follow on Twitter and why.
A: Steven Spielberg for his creative mind and Elon Musk for innovation.
Q: What are some of the communities that North Shore Gas serves?
A: Based on your readership, Bannockburn, Buffalo Grove, Diamond Lake, Gages Lake, Grayslake, Green Oaks, Gurnee, Hawthorn Woods, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Lake Villa, Libertyville, Lincolnshire, Lindenhurst, Long Grove, Mettawa, Mundelein, Northbrook, Old Mill Creek, Park City, Riverwoods, Rondout, Round Lake Beach, Third Lake, Vernon Hills, Wadsworth, Waukegan and Wheeling.