Spire Regional Manager Brian Davis and others on his team have been busy in the last year. Transitioning from the company’s former brand and identity —Alagasco — to Spire has been a major undertaking with multiple moving parts. But as the Montgomery native explains below, while the name has changed, the reliability and efficiency River Region customers have come to count on from their gas utility remain the same.
Why did Alagasco change its name to Spire?
In 2014, Alagasco was bought by Laclede Group, a St. Louis-based gas company. The idea then was to pull every piece of that company under one umbrella, but they wanted to do it slowly. In March 2016, the name changed to Spire at the corporate level. It became official here on September 25, 2017. Now, Spire has 3,000 employees in Missouri, Mississippi and Alabama.
How many Spire employees are there here?
We have approximately 75 in this office, serving approximately 78,000 customers in Montgomery and the River Region. This office also covers Opelika and Phenix City.
What does your job as entail?
I am responsible for field operations in Montgomery, Opelika and Phenix City, so I oversee the service department, getting gas turned off and on at locations, setting meters, the maintenance of our underground facilities like piping, and our distribution functions. Basically, I help keep the gas on and keep it flowing.
How’s the gas business been lately?
It always fluctuates, but in the last few months, we’ve seen some small growth in Montgomery. That’s due to things like new Pike Road and east Montgomery developments and new downtown projects. We have invested more in our infrastructure, replacing legacy pipes and expanding into new areas in Pike Road and Prattville. All of our supply is domestic; we have two main suppliers, both in the United States.
What challenges is Spire facing?
I don’t know that it’s actually a challenge, but as an industry, we always have to communicate why people should choose gas. For us down here, that is a different message than for our corporate office in St. Louis due to climate. We have so many more warm months, and most people associate natural gas with heat, so we work to showcase everything we can do for our customers above and beyond heating. For residential, that extends to cooking with gas – ovens, stovetops and grills – gas water heaters, which are so fast and so efficient, and gas dryers. I think we’re doing a good job getting that information out there. And advancements through the years, like gas tankless water heaters, are making gas even more efficient.
How did you get into the industry?
After graduating from Robert E. Lee High School here, I got my degree in mechanical engineering from Auburn University. Then, I got an MBA from Georgia College. I started my career with a gas company in Georgia. I spent four years working with some energy consulting companies and then came to work for Alagasco in 2004. In 2008, the company moved me back to Montgomery.
What do you enjoy about your job?
What first attracted me to the industry was the hands-on, mechanical side of it all, the construction. I loved working in the field and with all the pipelines, understanding how it all works and how we get gas to people. In the position I’m in now, I’m not in that day-to-day, but I get to meet a lot of people, work with other organizations like the Chamber to better Montgomery and engage with the community more. I like that too.
What are your impressions of Montgomery’s progress since you’ve been back home?
I really like the proactive mindset of our city leadership and the vision they have and are acting on, especially downtown. I remember growing up here, there was no reason to go downtown unless your office was there. Now, it’s the opposite, and I think that matters for several reasons: One, for this company, more empty buildings filled means, in many cases, more gas customers. Two, it’s a good impression for visitors, particularly the military we host here. The facelift happening on Dexter is amazing.