You may know that Nick DeBenedictis is the President and CEO of Aqua, but what you might not about his love for dogs and a vacation spot he’s called home in the summer for six decades. Get to know Nick a little more as he answers 10 questions about the past, present and future.
1. You have been Aqua America’s CEO for more than 20 years. Looking back what do you feel is your greatest accomplishment?
Without a doubt, it’s the investment of more than $2 billion in needed water and wastewater infrastructure. Our initial and primary focus was on upgrading and rehabilitating the plants and treatment systems to stay ahead of the more stringent federal, state and local water quality regulations that were taking effect at that time. Afterward, we ramped up the replacement of our aging distribution systems. These programs were part of our mission and commitment to provide reliable service and clean, quality drinking water.
2. When you were first appointed Chairman and CEO, what was your vision for Aqua?
I was nervous! It was my first and only position as a CEO, and although I had governmental and non-profit executive experience, I had never been at a publicly traded company. At the time, the company was not doing so well financially, so my first priority was to stabilize the finances.
3. What have you learned from the company’s success?
The successes have been our key acquisitions and the expansion of the company from local to national. We needed to do small acquisitions first and gradually take on the bigger prospects. Through this process, were able to assess the risks and apply improvements as we moved from smaller to larger acquisitions.
4. What do you believe our employees should know about Aqua?
I think it’s important that employees understand our history and culture of being a leader in a very crucial industry. I hope that it will help them with new challenges that require a new investment of time, knowledge and money.
5. What would you like employees to know about you?
I care a lot about the employees and the company, and what we do every day to improve the environment. The proper balancing of the four-legged stool [employees, customers, shareholders and community] is so important to our company, and I hope employees understand that it is essential to Aqua’s survival.
6. Who are the members of your immediate family? Do you have any pets?
My wife and I have been married since 1968 — our wedding song was “Cherish” by the 5th Dimension. We have two children and five grandchildren. Throughout much of our married life, we had dogs — a Bassett Hound and Boxers. I love my dogs. We don’t have one now and I miss that.
7. What is your favorite place to vacation?
For 63 years I’ve been going to the North Wildwood beach [in New Jersey].
8. What is your favorite holiday?
Christmas - the time of giving. But I’ve got to be honest, I love Halloween. Each year I try to be home because I really enjoy giving candy to the kids and seeing their costumes. Giving out the giant-sized Hershey bars has become a tradition at my house.
9. Do you have a role model or a hero? Who is it?
My father, he had the most influence on me. He was hardworking and very generous — always giving to others, he was a very nice guy.
10. There are many grateful recipients of your personal thank-you notes. How did someone in environmental engineering become so communication savvy?
It’s just instinctive to acknowledge and show respect for people who do something good for the company or society. I’ve learned that expressing your appreciation verbally or in writing with genuine thank-you notes is a small but sincere gesture.
For More Information:
Nick DeBenedictis Forbes Profile
Drexel University LeBow College Of Business Nick DeBenedictis Highlight