‘A proud moment’ for Piedmont Natural Gas

Piedmont Natural Gas converts 40K sq ft shell into newest resource center

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

ROCKINGHAM — 185 Enterprise Drive couldn’t look any better.

It was through rose-colored glasses, perhaps, that Piedmont Natural Gas peered at the shell warehouse that covered 40,000 square feet — complete with a  dirt floor — and envisioned a state-of-the-art resource center for the company’s three dozen local employees.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com From left to right: The ribbon-cutting and grand opening for new resource center for Piedmont Natural Gas in Rockingham was led by, left to right: Dean McKenzie, of C Design; Joel Fox, operations manager with PNG; John Parsons, supervisor of O & M equipment; Isaac English, pipeline inspector; and Richmond County Manager Rick Sago.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
From left to right: The ribbon-cutting and grand opening for new resource center for Piedmont Natural Gas in Rockingham was led by, left to right: Dean McKenzie, of C Design; Joel Fox, operations manager with PNG; John Parsons, supervisor of O & M equipment; Isaac English, pipeline inspector; Richmond County Manager Rick Sago; and Tom Skains, chairman and CEO of Piedmont Natural Gas.

On Tuesday, company officials and representatives of Richmond County and city of Rockingham governments were able to shed the glasses — and what laid before bare eyes remained quite the sight.

“I could not imagine this,” said Joel Fox, Piedmont Natural Gas operations manager, late Thursday morning while addressing dozens of company team members and dignitaries invited to the grand opening and ribbon-cutting event. Piedmont Natural Gas is an energy services company primarily engaged in the distribution of natural gas to more than one million residential, commercial, industrial and power generation utility customers in portions of North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

The ribbon-cutting was led by John “Johnny” Parsons, supervisor of O & M equipment for Piedmont Natural Gas who has nearly 41 years of employment with the company. He was joined on the larger-than-life pair of scissors by Isaac “Junior” English, who has 42 years of service with the company and now is a pipeline inspector.

The Rockingham location is the company’s third newly opened resource center, joining locations in Tarboro and Nashville, Tenn. When the company announced the relocation in July 2013, officials said the goal was to modify the 15 acres of land into something that was distinctly Rockingham. It replaces the former location on Old Charlotte Highway across from the county water plant west of Rockingham.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Richmond County Commissioner Thad Ussery, right, takes part in a lighthearted conversation just before the ribbon-cutting.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Richmond County Commissioner Thad Ussery, right, takes part in a lighthearted conversation just before the ribbon-cutting.

Fox compared the grand opening to his long-lasting marriage and the birth of his three sons and grandson. While not quite on the par with those life-changing events, Fox said, “this is right there as a proud moment.”

Tom Skains, chairman and CEO of the Greenville, S.C.-based company, talked about the transformation of the building in Richmond County Industrial Park West.

“What a gorgeous facility,” Skains said. “This reaffirms the pride we take in our work.”

The new location gives Piedmont Natural Gas workers 15 acres to work on instead of 4 and 40,000 square feet — plus another 9,000 square feet for additional storage space. That compares to a cap of 9,000 square feet at the previous location.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com From left to right: Rick Sago, Richmond County manager; Tom Skains, Piedmont Natural Gas chairman and CEO; and Joel Fox, operations manager.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
From left to right: Rick Sago, Richmond County manager; Tom Skains, Piedmont Natural Gas chairman and CEO; and Joel Fox, operations manager.

The Tarboro location is LEED-certified at the silver level and the Nashville facility met the gold standard, said Skains and Dean McKenzie, chief architect from C Designs. The goal is to get the Rockingham building to at least the silver level as well.

Officials said the certification would show a continued commitment to meeting and exceeding environmental standards. LEED — Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — is a program coordinated by the U.S. Green Building Council.

McKenzie said that when he began working on the project 18 months ago, “it wasn’t much to look at.” Those same challenges, however, offered an opportunity — “a blank canvas. We wanted something that was distinctly Rockingham. I think we achieved that.”

County Manager Rick Sago said he and other local representatives were grateful for the commitment Piedmont Natural Gas has made in Richmond County and Rockingham.

“It’s a big deal,” Sago said.

Sago recounted the confidential courting process. In the beginning, a real estate agency who identified working for someone known only as “Mr. X” was the county’s primary contact. That person was later revealed to be D.J. Johnson, manager of building services for Piedmont Natural Gas.

Sago said the partnership between the city, the county and Pee Dee Electric exemplifies the fact that “we do build partnerships here. We do get along.”

The location is the fourth shell building in a partnership between the city, county and Pee Dee Electric. This fourth building was completed in 2008, just as the economic downturn started.

“And in the fall of 2012, we got a call,” Sago said.

Sago noted the county is well-position to support the company’s expansion by being centrally located within the state as well as its infrastructure and proximity to interstate and rail.

Filed in: Business, Featured News, Latest Headlines, News, Rockingham

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