Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, Essential Utilities
Rick Fox is executive vice president, chief operating officer (COO) for Essential Utilities, Inc. (NYSE: WTRG). Essential is one of the largest publicly traded water, wastewater and natural gas providers in the U.S., serving approximately 5 million people across 10 states.
Fox is responsible for the Company’s regulated operations for Aqua, Essential’s water and wastewater division, and Peoples, Essential’s natural gas division, including corporate engineering and environmental compliance.
Fox was named to his current role in March 2020 coincident with Aqua’s closing of the Peoples Natural Gas acquisition.
Prior to being appointed COO for Essential, Fox had been COO for Aqua America since 2015 leading all utility operations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Texas, North Carolina, and Virginia. Prior to assuming the role of COO and since January 2012, he served as regional president for Aqua with operational responsibilities in five states. Previously, Fox was vice president, customer operations, where he was responsible for all customer service operations for Aqua, including the national customer call centers, national meter operations and company-wide billing and collections.
Under Fox’s leadership, the Company has experienced dramatic reductions in workplace injuries, improvements in drinking water quality, and reliability and increased wastewater environmental compliance. Additionally, Fox is credited with the successful combination of the previously independent workgroups of utility operations, project engineering, and environmental management into a cohesive and more collaborative work unit. Under this structure, the Company has been able to leverage the sharing of best practices and utilize the deep expertise of employees to improve service to customers. Further, under his leadership, the Company increased annual capital investment from about $365 million in 2015 to approximately $950 million in 2020. These investments in infrastructure improvements include replacing old water mains, leak-prone steel natural gas pipes, and rebuilding water and wastewater treatment plants to improve system safety, service reliability, and ensure compliance with regulations.
Fox joined the Company in 2002 as manager of customer service following 17 years in the chemical manufacturing industry in both operations and technical management.
Education and Professional Memberships
Fox earned his B.S. in chemical engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and his M.B.A from Villanova University, where he achieved Beta Gamma Sigma honors. Fox is a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and serves on the Villanova University Business School Graduate Business Advisory Council.