Chesapeake Utilities Corporation - Elaine Bittner

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Company: Chesapeake Utilities Corporation, Dover, DE
Company Description: Chesapeake Utilities Corporation is a diversified energy company engaged in natural gas distribution, transmission, marketing, gathering and processing; electricity distribution and generation; propane gas distribution and related services. Chesapeake has over 850 employees across 7 states, has received numerous industry safety awards and been recognized as a Top Workplace 5 years in a row.
Nomination Category: Individual Awards Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Female Executive of the Year – Consumer Services –11 to 2,500 Employees

Nomination Title: Elaine Bittner, SVP of Strategic Development, Chesapeake Utilities Corporation; President and COO of Aspire Energy; COO of Sharp Energy, PESCO and Xeron

Describe for the judges the activities and accomplishments of the nominated executive since the beginning of July last year (up to 525 words):

A humble leader who puts people at the heart of every strategy, Elaine Bittner has spent her 20 year career at Chesapeake Utilities Corporation taking on some of the company’s toughest challenges, questioning the status quo, effecting strategic change and turning aspirations into reality. Ms. Bittner is the first to recognize and develop team members and always puts others before herself. Her adeptness in building and empowering teams is just one of her remarkable talents.

In the last year, Ms. Bittner led the successful acquisition and integration of Aspire Energy; developed a strategic plan and direction for the entire corporation; assumed responsibility for four subsidiaries as COO; oversaw execution of communications and human resources strategies leading to Top Workplace recognition for the 5th consecutive year; and served as chair of Go Red for Women of Southern Delaware, a national program of the American Heart Association. For the second year in a row, Ms. Bittner exceeded the fundraising goal, 32% in 2016 and 31% in 2015.

Ms. Bittner built Chesapeake’s strategic development department, and she developed and executed the strategy that led to the $59.2 million acquisition that created Aspire Energy. Ms. Bittner projected that Aspire Energy would be profitable within its first full year of operations and it was. In fact, in 2016, the positive impact of Aspire Energy has been a highlight for each quarterly financial report. At the end of the 1st calendar quarter of 2016, Aspire Energy generated $4.2 million in gross margin and $2.6 million in operating income helping to offset lower earnings of other areas of the Company due to above average temperatures. At the end of the 2nd quarter, the Unregulated Energy segment generated $952,000 in additional operating income due to Aspire Energy’s performance, as well as the Company's natural gas marketing and propane distribution operations – which Ms. Bittner also oversees.

As the leader responsible for the company’s brand management and engagement strategies, Ms. Bittner has “walked the talk” in extending the company’s “Aspiring and Caring” values to the employees, customers and communities it serves. Thanks to her efforts, Chesapeake has received awards and recognition from 14 different organizations and publications. Highlights include: Designated a Top Workplace by the Delaware News Journal with best in class employee engagement scores for the 5th year in a row; “Excellence in Business Award for Corporation of the Year” by the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce; award for “Outstanding Service by a Major Company” by the Jefferson Awards Foundation for volunteer efforts within the Delaware community; “Corporate Donor of the Year” by the Food Bank of Delaware and the “American Heart Association Legacy Sponsor Award.” Under Ms. Bittner’s leadership, the Company has put engagement with employees, customers and the community at the heart of the overall corporate strategy.

Ms. Bittner’s leadership clearly has been integral to Chesapeake’s success, producing nine consecutive years of record earnings, placing the company in the top quartile among publicly traded energy companies and in the top quartile of all companies traded on the NYSE for Shareholder Return.

Provide a brief biography of the nominated executive (up to 125 words):

From her early days as an Environmental Engineer, Elaine Bittner’s performance set her on an upward trajectory through Chesapeake Utilities Corporation. As Director of the transmission pipeline subsidiary, Eastern Shore Natural Gas (ESNG), and then as Vice President and business unit leader, she more than doubled transmission capacity, paving the way for future expansion. Bittner was promoted to VP of Strategic Development and then SVP of Strategic Development responsible for Strategic Planning, Business Development, Communications, and Human Resources. She is also President and COO for Aspire Energy; COO for Sharp Energy, PESCO, and XERON; and Chief Strategy Officer for all Chesapeake’s subsidiaries.

Bittner has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering with Environmental Engineering concentration from the University of Maryland, an MBA from Wilmington University.