After a career of 50 years, in a moment that marks both an end and a new beginning, Jones-Onslow EMC prepares to bid farewell to its current CEO, Jeffery T. Clark, who will officially retire on January 31, 2024. With a career path woven through the cooperative’s heart, Mr. Clark’s retirement is a time to reflect on his remarkable journey and the lasting impact he leaves behind.
However, even before his impactful tenure at Jones- Onslow EMC, Mr. Clark’s journey within the cooperative realm began in 1974 as a night dispatcher at Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative in Florida. He took advantage of working at night to attend the University of South Florida during the day and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business in 1978. During his 18-year tenure at this cooperative, he was exposed to many aspects of the electric utility business, holding positions in corporate customer service, staking engineering, district office supervision and internal auditing. His steadfast commitment to the cooperative program guided him through these diverse roles, ultimately allowing him to have a leadership role in North Carolina. He came to North Carolina in 1992 when he accepted the position of Vice President of Finance and Accounting at Four County EMC in Burgaw.
Mr. Clark’s employment with Jones-Onslow EMC began in 2000 when he joined the co-op as Manager of Finance and Accounting. In 2001, he was promoted to Vice President of Finance and Accounting and in 2002 to Chief Financial Officer and then took the reins as CEO in 2016. Under his guidance, the cooperative has flourished, embracing new technologies, elevating member experiences, and championing affordable costs to members, reliability, and sustainability.
Guided by his steadfast principles, Mr. Clark’s legacy at JOEMC mirrors his dedication to values that have empowered both the cooperative and its members. He often imparts his wisdom with the phrase, “Always focus on the solution, not the problem”. Most notably, he abides by a foundational principle: treating everyone with respect and treating them fairly, a commitment he upholds each day.
These principles, along with many others, have guided his leadership style, steering JOEMC toward remarkable achievements over the past seven years. The cooperative’s workforce grew from 154 employees in 2016 to 180 in 2023, exemplifying strategic workforce management. Spearheading innovation, Mr. Clark led the successful adoption of CVR (Conservation Voltage Reduction) technology, resulting in consistent annual savings exceeding $1 million in wholesale power costs. His advocacy also encompassed transitioning outdoor and security lighting to LED technology between 2016 and 2018, yielding an approximate yearly expense reduction of $500,000. In 2018, when the cooperative was notified by its power supplier North Carolina Electric Membership Corporation that JOEMC would be charged a total of $18 million dollars over the next several years in additional power costs due to a coal ash issue, he successfully guided the cooperative through this financial issue by figuring out ways to absorb these costs and not increase the retail rates to members. Furthermore, the implementation of an Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) system bolstered operations, setting the stage for sustained success.
As Mr. Clark steps down, Jones-Onslow EMC stands on the brink of a promising new chapter. His visionary guidance, anchored in principles of respect and solution-driven thinking, has paved the way for an even brighter future for the cooperative and its members.