By Johnny Jackson
Randall Meadows plans to take up a round of golf as his first activity in retirement.
The 66-year-old will retire on July 16, as the president and chief executive officer of the Covington-based Snapping Shoals Electric Membership Corporation, which serves more than 92,000 members throughout the Southern Crescent area.
Meadows, a Covington native, will be succeeded by Conyers native, Brad Thomas.
"It's been a blessing for me," said Meadows. "I feel like it's sort of time. My wife and I have sort of put off the traveling we've wanted to do, and there's a lot of piano recitals, ballet recitals, and football games that our grandchildren are involved in, that we want to go to."
Meadows and his wife of 46 years, Sara Ann, have two sons -- Greg Meadows, 44, of McDonough, and Darren Meadows, 42, of Augusta, Ga. -- and five grandchildren.
The grandfather has enjoyed a career in the electric co-op industry that has spanned most of his adult life. He began his career with Snapping Shoals in 1964, as a 20-year-old power-use advisor, who provided energy information and advice to members. He became assistant to the manager in 1976, and chief operating officer at Snapping Shoals in 1992. He was named the co-op's President and CEO in 1995, replacing then-retiring President and CEO J.E. "Ed" Robinson.
"I was most appreciative," said Meadows, of taking the leadership role. "I was a little apprehensive at the time, but Mr. Robinson was a strong mentor. I'm proud of our employees, they are the biggest asset that we have. I'm proud of this co-op and what our people have been able to do."
Meadows also speaks highly of his successor, 46-year-old Brad Thomas. "He's a great guy and will be fantastic for this organization going forward," said Meadows. "He is most capable."
Thomas is currently the senior vice president of engineering and operations at Snapping Shoals, and will take on his new leadership responsibilities on July 19.
"They're both outstanding leaders and very capable managers," said Jim White, of Stockbridge, and chairman of the Snapping Shoals EMC Board of Directors.
"We had experienced tremendous growth during Mr. Meadows's tenure as CEO and that presented a lot of challenges, but none they were not able to handle," White continued. "We're very confident in [ Brad Thomas'] capabilities. He's very experienced and has demonstrated good leadership qualities in all the positions he's held up to this time. And he's been very involved in community, all the time I've known him."
Thomas began his career at Snapping Shoals in 1987 as an engineer assistant, while completing his engineering degree at Georgia Tech. He graduated later that year.
"I was more in engineering training than anything else," Thomas said. "I think, as a kid coming up through the Rockdale County School System, I always had a strong background in math and science. And with Georgia Tech being in my backyard, it made the decision even easier of what engineering school I was going to choose."
Thomas said working at Snapping Shoals has helped him maintain roots within the Southern Crescent community. "I've always loved living and working in the community, and I consider myself fortunate that Snapping Shoals has allowed me to live that out," he said.
He and his wife of 22 years, Rhonda, have two school-aged children -- Brandon Thomas, 18, a rising sophomore at Georgia Perimeter College, and Jessie Thomas, 15, a rising sophomore at Heritage High School in Conyers.
Concurrent with raising his family, Thomas has served in various other positions at Snapping Shoals, including planning engineer, distribution engineer, system engineer, manager of engineering, and vice president of engineering. He has held the position of senior vice president of engineering and operations since 2008, and next month, he moves into the role of Snapping Shoals EMC's president and CEO.
"I'm excited," said Thomas. "There's a little nervousness, but all and all, I'm excited. Mr. Meadows has done an exceptional job in his tenure as CEO, of making Snapping Shoals EMC one of the best EMCs in the country."
Thomas said, although much has changed for Snapping Shoals over the years, he does not intend on making any major changes himself. "During my 23 years, we've had tremendous growth in not only our membership, but in our load needs as well," Thomas said. "When I started, we had less than 32,000 members, and we currently sit at just over 92,000 members; we had 2,700 miles of energized lines, and we're now approaching 6,200 miles. But Snapping Shoals has always operated on affordable reliable power to our membership, and that's something that we take pride in here."