After nearly 11 years at Winchester Utilities’ helm, General Manager Roger Caldwell is retiring and his last day on the job was Wednesday.
A special retirement party was held Friday at the Winchester Livery to pay tribute to Caldwell for what he has done to make Winchester Utilities a success under his leadership.
Caldwell had become the general manager after a 35-year stint with United Technologies Corp., a U.S. multinational conglomerate.
Those who paid tribute to Caldwell said his experience and leadership qualities have been invaluable, and his presence will be sorely missed.
Likewise, Caldwell said moving on from Winchester Utilities will leave an immense absence.
“It’s bittersweet,” he said about retirement.
He explained he will miss his close Winchester Utilities family but will have more time to spend with his and wife Kay’s family.
The Caldwells harbor real estate licenses, and Kay is an active realtor. Caldwell said he plans to assist her in that venture.
The retirement party included those who know the general manager the best, paying tribute to him and sharing humorous stories about their association with him during the past decade.
• Tim Pelham, Tennessee Association of Utilities board member.
• Winchester Mayor Terry Harrell.
• Jimmy Allen, TVA general manager for the Greater Nashville area.
• Brian Solsbee, Tennessee Municipal Electric Power Association executive director and chief executive officer.
• Bob Bibb, Middle Tennessee Industrial Development Association executive director.
• Jeff Mathews, Winchester Utilities human resources manager.
• George Powell, who succeeds Caldwell as general manager after previously working for the utility then moving on to Tennessee Valley Authority.
• Jason Allman, assistant general manager.
• Winchester Utilities Board Chairman Bruce Spencer, also an alderman, who could not attend but a letter was read in his absence.
Other key utility, city and government officials also attended the event.
They all agreed that Caldwell has made a tremendous difference in improving Winchester Utilities from his first day on the job on May 17, 2010.
Harrell said it was difficult to sum up Caldwell’s 11-year contribution in two minutes.
“He hit the ground running when he came here,” Harrell said. “Immediately, the city could see a difference from what it previously had.”
He said Caldwell had developed long- and short-range plans and stuck to them. He added that such plans often fall by the wayside over time, “but that was not the case with Roger.”
Harrell reaffirmed that Caldwell made a lasting impression.
“He’s been an asset to the utility and the city,” Harrell said. “He’s been a great asset, and I hate to see him leave.”
Caldwell said he’s had an outstanding staff at Winchester Utilities that always took the steps necessary to make it successful.
However, Pelham was quick to say that “success starts at the top,” and Caldwell is the reason the other employees were able to do so well at their jobs.
Allman paid tribute to Caldwell for how he handled the utility’s finances by cutting its debt in half and simultaneously improving its operations by the same factor.
Powell said he has “big shoes to fill” in attempting to replace Caldwell as general manager.
However, he said he is personally on track to succeed because of what he has learned from Caldwell as a mentor and from the example Caldwell had set in leading the employees.
Powell said Caldwell had close ties with the agencies affiliated with Winchester Utilities, and that connection will make that part of his new job go as smooth as possible.
Caldwell said he would like to extend his thanks to the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Tennessee Municipal Electric Power Association, the Tennessee Valley Public Power Association, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development and the Middle Tennessee Industrial Development Association for all they have done during his tenure to help Winchester Utilities serve its customers.
He said the agencies worked hand-in-hand with Winchester Utilities to provide the best possible service in a unified effort.