Little Rock, Arkansas (January 19, 2022) – Summit Utilities, Inc. (“Summit”) is pleased to announce the addition of Kelly Eichler, Kenny Gunderman, and Benny Petrus to the company’s board of directors. All three have deep-seated roots in Arkansas where the company recently expanded its footprint with its acquisition of CenterPoint Energy’s gas distribution assets. Eichler, Gunderman and Petrus join Kathy Alexander on Summit’s board, where Summit’s independent directors with strong ties to Arkansas now account for the majority of independent board seats.
“At Summit, our customers, the communities we serve, and our team members are at the center of what we do,” said Summit Utilities Board Chairman Henry Fayne. “With our newly expanded footprint in Arkansas and the addition of hundreds of new team members living and working in that area, it’s critical that our board reflect those we serve and understand the important issues facing our customers today— particularly as we work to transition all operations of our new assets from CenterPoint to Summit over the next twelve months. Kelly, Kenny, and Benny all bring with them diverse viewpoints, expertise, and skill sets, as well as a deep understanding of the community that will strengthen our company and our board. We are excited to welcome them to the team.”
Kelly Eichler of Little Rock has spent decades working in Arkansas public service, most notably as policy advisor to Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Chief Counsel to former Gov. Mike Huckabee. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the University of Arkansas.
“This is a pivotal moment in Summit’s history, and I’m honored to be joining the team as we become the largest gas distribution company in the state,” said Eichler. “As Summit works over the next year with CenterPoint Energy to transition operations of the company – including billing and customer service – it’s important we do all we can to curb disruption to customers and the communities we serve across Arkansas, Oklahoma and the Texarkana, Texas area. I’m excited to be part of that transition and to support the strategic direction of the company in the coming years.”
Kenny Gunderman of Little Rock is President and CEO of Uniti Group Inc. He has 20 years telecommunications, investment banking and private equity experience.
“I’m excited to bring my years of experience in business and infrastructure development to the board of Summit Utilities,” said Gunderman. “Summit is a unique utility poised for increased growth in years to come. It’s an honor to be joining the team and I am excited to be a part of its ongoing success and excellence.”
Benny Petrus is a lifelong Arkansan, businessman, and former Speaker of the House from Stuttgart, Arkansas. He currently serves as President and CEO of Adams Fertilizer Equipment Company in Dewitt, Arkansas.
“As a lifelong Arkansan, I know this state is one big, small town, which is why I couldn’t be more excited to be joining the board of an energy provider who puts people and communities at the heart of their operations,” said Petrus. “Since acquiring AOG in Fort Smith in 2017, it’s been clear that Summit doesn’t just talk about being a good friend and neighbor, they show it by supporting customers, engaging communities and working with businesses to grow the economy. I’m honored to join their board and look forward to their continued success.”
Background on Summit Utilities, Inc.’s Recent Acquisition: Summit finalized its acquisition of CenterPoint Energy’s distribution assets in Arkansas, Oklahoma and the Texarkana, Texas area on January 10, 2022. The gas distribution systems included in the transaction serve approximately 525,000 customers in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, and include 17,000 miles of gas main pipeline across those three states. As part of the acquisition, Summit will be welcoming nearly 600 CenterPoint team members to the company. For the next twelve months Summit and CenterPoint will work together to migrate all operations and services to Summit. During that transition period, CenterPoint will continue to provide certain services to customers on behalf of Summit including aspects of billing, customer support and marketing.
Background on Summit Utilities, Inc.: Summit Utilities, Inc. owns natural gas distribution and transmission subsidiaries that operate in Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas. The company provides safe, clean and affordable natural gas to businesses and residents in six states through Arkansas Oklahoma Gas, Colorado Natural Gas, Summit Natural Gas of Maine, Summit Natural Gas of Missouri, Summit Utilities Arkansas, and Summit Utilities Oklahoma. Each of Summit’s natural gas distribution and transmission subsidiaries constructs and installs natural gas distribution systems with the goal of supporting economic development by providing clean-burning, safe and reliable natural gas to residential and commercial customers through exceptional customer service and commitment to community. Overall, Summit entities serve approximately 625,000 customers and operate more than 23,400 miles of pipeline.