MANSFIELD, Pa. (Jan. 27, 2021) — Tri-County Rural Electric Cooperative’s long-time top executive, President and CEO Craig Eccher, will be retiring from his post in May, closing out a career with the co-op that spanned three decades.

In conjunction with Eccher’s retirement, the Tri-County Board of Directors appointed Kevin Brownlee of Hot Springs, Ark., as the company’s incoming president and CEO. Brownlee, who has over 20 years of utility management experience, takes over day-to-day oversight of the cooperative on March 1, 2021.

Eccher’s affiliation with Tri-County began in 1990, when he was hired as the cooperative’s manager of engineering services. In 1999, he was named president and chief executive officer of the cooperative’s jointly owned subsidiary, Wellsboro Electric Co. He continued to serve as Wellsboro Electric’s CEO until retiring from the position at the end of 2019.

Eccher was named as executive vice president and chief operating officer of Tri-County in 2003 and was promoted to president and CEO of the cooperative in 2006. He has also served as co-president and CEO of C&T Enterprises, a subsidiary of Tri-County and Claverack Rural Electric Cooperative, since 2008. Additionally, Eccher has served as president and CEO of Tri-Co Connections, the cooperative’s fiber-to-the-home high-speed internet subsidiary, since leading its launch in 2018.

“We have certainly enjoyed working with Craig Eccher at Tri-County over the years and wish him the best in his retirement,” said Gerald A. “Arnie” Kriner, chairman of the Tri-County Board of Directors. “The board appreciates his many years of service to the cooperative, as well as the long list of accomplishments he has achieved during his tenure as CEO. We are confident we will see that tradition of exceptional leadership carried forward by Kevin Brownlee in his new role as the chief executive officer, and we look forward to working with him.”

Eccher will be stepping down from his CEO post March 1 but will continue working for Tri-County in an advisory capacity until his official retirement date of May 1, 2021.

“It has been a pleasure working with a fantastic team of talented employees, a progressive board of directors, and, most importantly, the great membership base that holds dearly the values of rural life,” Eccher said. “I leave the cooperative knowing that it’s in great hands and that it will continue making a positive difference in our region.”

Brownlee holds a Master of Business Administration from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from Charleston Southern University.

Tri-County’s incoming chief executive has 21 years of electric cooperative experience, including ten years as chief executive officer of South Central Arkansas Electric Cooperative and its fiber-to-the home subsidiary, South Central Connect. Prior to that, he served as vice president of marketing and economic development for Lynches River Electric Cooperative in Pageland, S.C.

He currently serves as the deputy city manager for the City of Hot Springs, Ark., where he manages one of the largest water, wastewater and storm water utilities in Arkansas.

“We are fortunate to gain a leader with Kevin’s experience and talent,” Kriner said. “I am confident that he will lead Tri-County forward as it continues its mission to provide safe, reliable electricity and make broadband internet service available to members across our service territory.”

Brownlee and his wife, Kathy, have two children, Bryce, 18, who will be attending the U.S. Military Academy in June 2021, and Meredith, 15, a high school freshman.

“I am honored to be appointed as the next president and CEO of Tri-County Electric and Tri-Co Connections,” Brownlee said. “I look forward to working with the board, members and employees on continuing their long tradition of excellence and service.”

Tri-Co Connections, a subsidiary of Tri-County REC, is constructing a fiber-to-the-home high-speed internet system across the electric cooperative’s 5,000-square-mile service territory in north-central Pennsylvania.

Tri-County, with headquarters in Mansfield, provides electric service to approximately 17,000 consumer-members in Potter, Tioga, Bradford, Lycoming, Clinton, McKean and Cameron counties.

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