Murfreesboro Water and Sewer Department Assistant Director Darren Gore will take the reins of department director when current Director Joe Kirchner retires in early August.
A native of Smyrna, Tenn., Gore received his bachelors and Masters degrees in Engineering from Georgia Tech in Atlanta and served in multiple engineering consultant and project management roles throughout his career.
Gore joined MWSD in 2005 as Assistant Director and has remained in that capacity since.
He has primarily been responsible for MWSD Engineering, Capital Budgeting and Regulatory Compliance. .
Gore said he feels blessed to have been given the responsibility of filling such large shoes as those of outgoing Director Joe Kirchner.
“I have a deep sense of appreciation that Rob (City Manager Rob Lyons) has that kind of confidence in me,” Gore said, “and I anticipate doing my best to meet his expectations.”
MWSD is facing changes in the years ahead, Gore said. Some will be short term challenges like converting from an old COBOL computer system to newer state-of-the-art technologies.
Others will be more strategic.
In fact, he said, a major challenge for him will be to step back and see the big picture – to take a more macro view of the department’s operations.
“When you get to the point you are managing managers,” he continued, “it’s always hard to pull back and let some things go. You have to be able to delegate but be attentive to the issues.”
A new process he plans to implement should help him manage the department more effectively, he explained.
“There is an industry standard that is gaining traction right now,” he said. “It’s called Effective Utility Management (EUM). Some of the EUM attributes we want to concentrate on continuously improving are Financial Viability, Operational Optimization, Employee and Leadership Development, Customer Satisfaction, Product Quality, Stakeholder Understanding and Support, and Water Resource Adequacy,.”
Other challenges are likely to include prioritizing capital improvement projects, complying with increasing federal and state regulations and making sure there is someone trained to take the place of people who retire.
“We will need to focus on employee development and succession planning,” he said, “and we will need to depend on the expertise of the Human Relations (HR) Department for that.”
With such a large workforce (159 employees), communication is vital.“Any vision you have needs to be communicated,” he said. “When you have confidence in that vision and employees understand they are part of it, they buy into it.”
Though he says he realizes there will be challenges, he feels excited to take them on.
“I’m looking forward to empowering our customers,” he said, “and I’m looking forward to implementing the new Effective Utility Management plan.
“The water and sewer department is a supply chain, commodity-driven industry that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and directly affects public health,” he said. “This requires well trained employees . We also happen to be the sole source distributor of potable water and collector of sanitary waste for our customers, which really compels us to place customer satisfaction and stakeholder understanding at the forefront.
“This dovetails perfectly with our outgoing Director Joe Kirchner’s and our City Manager’s Service Excellence initiatives.”
He, like Joe Kirchner before him, believes in responsible conservation of resources.
“Our natural resources were given to us for a reason,” he said, “and we cannot abuse them. We have to be good stewards.
“The name of the game is balance,” he added.