Waterville Gas stands by customer-friendly practicesWritten by Brandi Barhite | Community Ombudsman | firstname.lastname@example.org
When customers call The Waterville Gas Company, they will actually talk to a real person.
That is becoming more uncommon in a business world dominated by technology and pressing “one” to talk to this person and “two” for this department, according to company president Robert Stitt Black, who won the Lifetime Member Award from the Ohio Gas Association Sept. 19.
“You have to run the business properly, and you have to take care of the customers,” Robert said, listing reasons for the company’s success.
Having a small family tree has also helped bring the oldest family-owned utility company into the 21st century, he said.
In 1888, during Northwest Ohio’s oil and gas boom, R.G. Stitt founded The Waterville Gas Company. The company has been located at 11 N. River Road in Waterville ever since.
Today, the company is owned and operated by R.G.’s great-grandsons, Robert, who serves as president, and James E. A. Black II, who serves as secretary. Todd Black is treasurer, as well as Robert’s son and fifth generation of the family.
“I would come to work on weekends and would come down in the evenings when my father came down to check the gas pressure,” Robert said of his boyhood memories of The Waterville Gas Company. “The simple most important practice I picked up is not being away from the business for too long of a time.”
The Waterville Gas Company serves 5,600 homes with customers in Waterville and portions of Middleton, Monclova, Perrysburg and Waterville townships.
Robert said natural gas is a premium fuel and releases few undesirable ingredients in the environment. It’s a fuel that is used at the source, going directly from raw form to a home for use in cooking and heating.
“Our prices have always been very competitive. Natural gas is a premium fuel from the beginning.”
Robert said natural gas was provided as long ago as 1888. At that time, it was mostly used for cooking and lighting.
Todd began working for the company when he was a teenager. He was a field technician, an experience that taught him how to run a business and gave him repertoire with co-workers.
The Waterville Gas Company has only nine full-time employees, although certain operations are outsourced to other local companies. The company prides itself on treating its workers well, and it shows. Quite a few started long before Todd.