Meadows finishes as Snapping Shoals CEO

CONYERS -- As reliable as flipping a light switch, Snapping Shoals Electric Membership Corp. President and CEO Randall Meadows has gone to work at the local utility for 46 years.

Today, following Snapping Shoals' annual members meeting, which was held Thursday, will be his last day on the job. The 66-year-old Covington native will retire and be succeeded by Brad Thomas, Snapping Shoals senior vice president of engineering and operations.

Meadows began at Snapping Shoals in 1964 as a power advisor, similar to customer service rep, who helped customers with questions and advice on power usage.

When he began his career, Snapping Shoals had 6,500 member customers. He leaves work today after watching the member-owned utility grow to 92,000 members.

Meadows said back then he did a little bit of everything.

"If I wasn't busy with (customers) I might cut the grass or go to the bank or the post office," he said. "We still like to think of ourselves today as a family here, and we have a lot of dedicated employees. In those days, it really was like family because there were so few of us."

The business of providing electricity has changed dramatically over the past four decades. For Snapping Shoals, that meant moving from a single power provider, Georgia Power, to helping form Oglethorpe Power in 1975 with other EMCs and negotiating with other power wholesalers.

Meadows said he is proud of the work done to keep rates down by utilizing different suppliers, but the work has become more complex.

"It's so much more technical now that we're involved with our own power supply contracts and resources," he said. "So, there's a lot of dealings with lawyers, contracts and negotiations. That is not as appealing to me as running this business day-to-day."

Growth was another challenge for Snapping Shoals as the utility revved up operations to keep up with demand during the late 1990s through 2008. Meadows said the current economic slowdown has helped the utility to catch up on maintenance and operations, but "we're way beyond that now."

"We need growth, we like to see growth, but we like to see it a little more orderly and reasonable," he said. "Three percent growth per year is pretty good for a utility. We had seen 5, 6, 7 percent growth for years, but I guess that's a better problem to have than going the other way."

Meadows enjoys fishing and looks forward to improving his golf game. He is also looking forward to spending time with his family, his wife Sara Ann, two sons and five grandchildren.

"I've got five grandkids and there's a lot of ballet and piano recitals, baseball games and things I will get to catch up on," he said.