HOUSTON, TX, January 22, 2018 – Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland on Monday named Jarl T. “J.T.” Young of Pensacola, Florida-based Gulf Power as his appointment to run the city’s public utility.
Young, the general manager of customer service and marketing at Gulf Power, was selected as chief executive officer of the Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division after a national search by Texas-based Preng & Associates, according to the mayor’s office. He will succeed retiring CEO Jerry Collins.
“J.T.’s knowledge and experience in the industry, along with his record of creating a culture around excellent customer service, grabbed my attention,” Strickland said in a release. “He’s highly qualified and I know he’ll fit in well here and lead MLGW into the future.”
Strickland is offering Young a salary of $320,000 — a 49 percent increase from the $215,000 salary Collins receives. The increase makes the MLGW CEO again the highest-paid city employee, ahead of Police Director Michael Rallings ($219,000) and the mayor ($170,817).
Chief Human Resources Officer Alex Smith said a review of salaries at peer utility companies showed the average chief executive was paid an annual salary of $366,000, in addition to other forms of compensation. For instance, the CEO of the Knoxville Utilities Board makes $345,665, according to the Economic Research Institute.
The administration is committed to raising salaries based on data, Smith said.
“We want to be fiscally responsible — but we also want to bring in high-quality individuals,” she said.
If his appointment receives Memphis City Council approval, Young would begin his tenure March 19. Dana Jeanes will serve as acting CEO until then, following Collins’ retirement Jan. 31.
“MLGW and the community of Memphis have a rich history and a bright future,” Young said. “I am blessed and eager to serve with the great team at MLGW as we move the company forward in delivering exceptional customer value.”
One of Young’s challenges will be finding ways to manage MLGW’s rising expenses without council support for rate increases. The council earlier this month approved a slight water rate increase but rejected heftier increases to the gas and electric rates, despite warnings by Collins that delays would only require higher increases later.
Formed in 1939, MLGW is the largest three-service public power utility in the nation, serving more than 421,000 customers in Memphis and Shelby County. Collins has helmed MLGW under three mayors since his appointment by former mayor Willie Herenton in 2007 and confirmation by the council in January 2008.
Young currently leads Gulf Power’s customer services, marketing, sales, and
The Pensacola native joined the marketing arm of Gulf Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company, in 1989. He previously worked in both distribution and marketing at Progress Energy (now Duke Energy) in Florida and as a systems engineer at a Tennessee Valley Authority nuclear plant in Alabama.
He has an MBA from the University of West Florida and is a graduate of Harvard Business School’s General Management Program.
Over his 35-year career, Young has served in a variety of roles, including Gulf Power’s chief information officer, customer service general manager, corporate services director and chair of the company’s People Council. He also oversaw the implementation of Gulf Power’s strategic plan.
Young couldn’t immediately be reached for comment, but Gulf Power spokeswoman Natalie Smith said he was a “great guy” and that their loss was Memphis’ gain.
Young will be introduced to the City Council during its meeting at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to city spokeswoman Ursula Madden.
About Preng & Associates
Preng & Associates is the world’s leading executive search firm totally dedicated to the energy industry. For 35 years, Preng & Associates has assisted nearly 700 management teams and Boards attain exceptional talent who have delivered long-term value.