After 34 years with the company, the head of New Jersey Resources will retire on Sept. 30, 2019.
The Wall-based energy provider, and parent company of New Jersey Natural Gas, on Friday announced the retirement of Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Laurence Downes, who has served in the latter role for 24 years. In line with NJR’s succession plan, Steve Westhoven, president and chief operating officer, will assume the role of president and CEO on Oct. 1, 2019, the company’s board of directors said.
Downes will continue to serve as chairman of the board until NJR’s Annual Shareholders Meeting.
Prior to being named president, CEO and chairman of the board in 1996, Downes held a series of positions during his tenure at the company: he was named treasurer in 1986, vice president and treasurer in 1988, promoted to senior vice president and chief financial officer in 1990, and then executive vice president of New Jersey Natural Gas in 1994.
Westhoven joined the company in 1990. He was named vice president of NJR Energy Services in 2004 and senior vice president in 2010. In 2017 he was elevated to executive vice president and COO of NJR, before being named president and COO about a year later.
“It has been a privilege to be a part of the New Jersey Resources family for more than three decades,” Downes said in a prepared statement. “I’m grateful to the women and men of our company, past and present, who have made us the organization we are today. Their hard work has earned us 13 J.D. Power Awards – more than any other utility in New Jersey; significantly improved the performance of our delivery system; increased the value of our company more than tenfold and helped over 1,800 community service organizations annually across New Jersey.
“I know our team will continue to deliver on our commitment to our stakeholders for many years to come,” he added.
In April, Downes stepped down as the chairman of the state’s Economic Development Authority, following a request from Gov. Phil Murphy, admist the administration’s ongoing assessment of New Jersey’s multi-billion dollar corporate tax incentive programs.