After nearly 30 years as Managing Director of the Grand Strand Water & Sewer Authority, Fred Richardson plans to retire early next year.
This means the agency that provides freshwater and sewage services to much of Horry County will start looking for a new CEO.
According to an online article advertising the position, GSWSA is using recruiting firm Raftelis to conduct a nationwide CEO search, with the application window ending after October 8. The position advertises a salary range of $ 220,000 to $ 250,000, plus benefits, with a moving allowance and “other amenities” possible in a final employment contract.
“This post will be vacant when the current longtime CEO retires in early 2022, after more than three decades of serving as head of GSWSA,” the post said.
In an interview with Sun News in August, Richardson said he would likely retire next year.
“I will probably retire next year,” he said.
Richardson spoke on Thursday about his long career with the agency.
“I’ve been with Grand Strand Water since 1984 so I’ve been there for a long time, started as a young man and ended as an old man,” he said.
Richardson said he was looking to take a step back from public life in retirement, but would be ready to help if others determined it was necessary. He is eager to garden, to fish, to travel and wants to “enjoy the good life”.
“I think my career in the public service is coming to an end, I am not looking for another position in the public service,” he said, “It does not mean that I will not contribute where I do. can. If there’s a role I can play or a need I can fill… I’ll be happy to do what I can.
Richardson said he does not yet have a retirement date and will stay with the agency until a new CEO is selected, likely in the first three months of 2022.
Richardson grew up in Aynor and attended Clemson University and the University of South Carolina after graduating from high school. He grew up on a tobacco farm and said he loved growing up in this small rural town.
“It’s a small, rural town in the United States,” he said. “Probably typical of a lot of rural places.”
There he earned degrees in chemistry and chemical engineering and took a job with the South Carolina Department of Environmental Health and Control in the early 1970s after graduating. Richardson then worked for the German chemical company BASF for several years before he wanted to move closer to his home.
He worked for a while at Johnsonville, he said, and was then hired as the engineering director of GSWSA in 1984. He stayed with the agency and became its CEO in 1993, position he has held since. He lived in Conway for several years and now lives in Gallivants Ferry.
In the job posting, the GSWSA outlined a series of overarching tasks that the next CEO would be responsible for, including: planning and major infrastructure projects “to ensure that water and sanitation services are ready for growing areas ”; keep water and sewer prices low and “maintain the financial soundness of the public service”; environmental stewardship; increase the agency’s clientele “without compromising on personalized service for taxpayers”; remain a competitive employer; and upgrading agency technology systems with an emphasis on cybersecurity.
As Horry County developed, GSWSA played a central role in the development. Because the agency operates separately from the county government, it often installs water and sewer lines in areas long before new homes or businesses appear. Some local leaders and advocates have criticized the agency for causing sprawling growth in the region.
The GSWSA said in the announcement that it prefers, although not requiring, high qualifications for its next CEO, including a masters or bachelor’s degree in professional engineering, experience or expertise related to the management of water utility, experience in government relations, business and financial analysis, and knowledge of local, state and federal regulations that apply to water and sewer utilities.
GSWSA was founded in 1971 and today provides water and sewer services to 110,000 people and leases wholesale services to Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Conway, Loris and Little River Water and Sewerage. The agency has assets totaling $ 849 million and has annual revenues of over $ 138 million. GSWSA has 350 employees and an annual operating budget of $ 119,222,540.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with additional information from Richardson.
This story was originally published September 30, 2021 3:06 pm.