A Career of Innovative Service
CEO Randy Brecheisen retires this month after 33 years with Piedmont Electric.By Lindsey Listrom
Randolph G. Brecheisen has always been focused on finding ways to best serve cooperative members. As the president and CEO of Hillsborough-based Piedmont Electric Membership Corporation, he has built a team that is committed to excellence and a culture that is committed to service. Brecheisen is retiring this month after 33 years with the co-op.
What’s the secret to his success with Piedmont Electric? Seeking out opportunities to enhance member service.
Whether that service came through implementation of advanced technologies, a focus on excellent electric reliability or programs that support local communities, Brecheisen leaves a legacy of not only seizing opportunities, but also of being a leader who isn’t afraid to take on the big challenges and who cares for every member of his cooperative family.
“We have wonderful employees here,” Brecheisen says. “One of the real joys I’ve had as CEO is working with extremely fine, dedicated, hardworking people.”
Members saw that dedication firsthand in 1996, when Hurricane Fran’s devastating winds cut power to all but about 300 of Piedmont Electric’s members. That night, Brecheisen and a team of employees stayed at the office, listening to trees crash down outside. In the morning, with lines and power poles on the ground for miles, an all-hands-on-deck approach and the help of about 400 outside employees led to full power restoration for Piedmont Electric members within seven days.
“Any time there is a problem or situation, Randy is willing to lean in and do the heavy lifting to get it fixed,” says Bill R. Barber, chairman of the board of directors at Piedmont Electric.
During Brecheisen’s tenure, the cooperative has become a national leader in securing Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDLG) funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Since 2014, Piedmont Electric has boosted essential services and enriched local communities by helping provide funding for new firetrucks and ambulances as well as for upgrades to emergency facilities, libraries and local schools totaling more than $14 million in rural economic development.
These investments, along with thousands of dollars contributed by the cooperative in support of scholarships, sponsorships and local education, will have a lasting effect in local communities, Barber notes.
Brecheisen grew up in a navy family, moving about every two years before landing in Maryland for high school. An interest in engineering brought him to NC State University, where he earned undergraduate degrees in electrical engineering and engineering operations, and then to Duke University for an MBA.
After stints at Duke Energy and as a consultant, Brecheisen began work at Piedmont Electric as a controller where he managed finance and accounting as well as meter reading and other services. In 1992, he took the helm as CEO.
Since then, the cooperative has more than doubled in size, serving 31,000 members in its six-county service territory. And while member numbers have doubled in the past three decades, technology has advanced exponentially.
Brecheisen has led Piedmont Electric to keep up with those advancements, spearheading strategic investments in innovations including advanced meters, outage maps and reporting, services for customers to access their account information through web portals, and immediate communication through social media.
What each of these innovations has in common, Brecheisen says, is that they all empower Piedmont Electric’s members to better understand and control their energy use, while at the same time enabling the cooperative to provide better, more reliable electric service.
“And that’s really the basis for aggressively deploying these new technologies,” Brecheisen says. “It allows us to provide better service and do a better job for our members.”
After turning in his keys at Piedmont Electric, Brecheisen said he looks forward to spending time with his wife Sylvia and children Amy, Zachary and Lindsay, and even embarking on a second career. He said he will reflect fondly on his time serving Piedmont Electric members.
“I’m thankful that I’ve had this opportunity to do what I’ve done for this many years,” he says.