Gary Gibson: Leading CU Into 75 Years & Beyond
Looking back on the 75 years City Utilities has spent impacting the community, we are excited to lead off our 75th anniversary year with new general manager, Gary Gibson. Gary brings 28 years of utility experience to his new leadership role, starting off at City Utilities as a co-op while still in college.
Gary has had many unique opportunities while working at City Utilities that has given him the experience he has today. His first project as an engineer in 1991 was rehabilitating Fulbright Spring, one of Springfield’s original water sources. At the time, the spring was full of mud and only providing 1-2 million gallons per day, which is significantly less than it should. His job was to figure out how to divert the water for a short period of time so the mud could be removed, and the structure rehabilitated. After this work, the spring returned to providing 9 million gallons a day.
“Straight out of college, I got to figure out a unique solution to a problem, and that was really fun,” said Gary. “That project characterized my early career as an engineer.”
Over the course of his career, Gary has seen many other unique projects. He worked on removing the existing lead paint and repainting our water towers, which required building tents over each one during the process. He helped build a syphon system at McDaniel Lake that controls algae growth in the summer to prevent taste and odor issues in our water. Gary also had a hand in building the natural gas peaking station at Lake Springfield next to James River Power Station.
“Recently, I also had the opportunity to lead SpringNet and economic development, which was out of my wheelhouse,” said Gary, “but I developed a real passion for the community in that role.”
Gary’s passion for the community doesn’t stop there. In his role as general manager, his top priority is you – our customer. That focus includes discovering new programs we can offer to continue to provide value.
“If you’ve grown up in Springfield, you don’t compare us to any other utility because you don’t have experience with another utility,” said Gary. “You’re comparing us to other people you do business with. If your bank has a neat app, you want us to have a neat app to pay your bill. If your pizza company can text you when your pizza is ready, you want us to text you when your power is back on.”
That relentless focus on you, our customer, is what Gary hopes will shape his tenure as general manager. From an operations standpoint, Gary’s focus is on our infrastructure and looking to innovation as a way to keep our services affordable and reliable. One such project is the fiber expansion project.
“If you didn’t have a company like City Utilities who was willing to invest and take a risk to provide fiber throughout the community, it would be years before our citizens would have access to affordable, gigabit fiber services,” said Gary. “That’s the benefit of having true ownership of the utility.”
From the fiber expansion project and beyond, our continued involvement in economic development is essential to the futures of both City Utilities and the Springfield community. If you’ve ever wondered why City Utilities has a hand in economic development, Gary has an answer.
“Having a diverse customer base that includes large businesses and manufacturers, helps our systems operate more efficiently, and that gives us the ability to control costs for all customers,” said Gary.
As we move into our 75th year and beyond as your community-owned utility, we have a real advantage over other communities. We live here, too. We are your neighbors and truly care about the overall well-being of our community.
“We are going to have challenges in the future. The best way to meet those challenges is not in a board room thousands of miles away,” said Gary. “Those decisions are made right here with local input and discussion, and in the best interest of our community.”