Midwest Energy’s Board of Directors has chosen Patrick Parke, currently vice president customer service, as its next president and general manager.
Parke will succeed Earnie Lehman, who is retiring after serving as Midwest Energy’s president and general manager for 15 years. Parke at will work with Lehman, who will continue to exercise overall management responsibility, until Lehman’s retirement Feb. 1, 2018.
Midwest Energy’s Board conducted an exhaustive nationwide search for candidates, with more than 100 applying for the position.
“The Board recognized Pat’s many accomplishments in his more than 33 years with Midwest Energy and his strong management and leadership abilities,” said Keith Miller, Midwest Energy’s Board chair. “We’re confident that his deep knowledge of Midwest Energy and its employees will allow him to take the cooperative to new heights.”
Lehman said of the Board’s decision, “I’m pleased the Board chose to promote from within for the first time in our 78 year history, recognizing Pat’s many talents and the high regard in which he is held by our employees and the community.”
In accepting the Board’s offer, Parke said, “I am grateful to have this opportunity. The choice of an internal candidate sends a strong message about our entire workforce. We have the knowledge and skills needed to serve our customers well in a rapidly changing industry.”
Parke, a native of Trego County, graduated from Trego Community High School, and earned both bachelor’s and master’s of science degrees in agricultural engineering from Kansas State University. He joined Midwest Energy in February 1984.
Midwest Energy is a customer-owned cooperative, and has invested almost $600 million to serve its 93,000 electric and natural gas customers in 40 central and western Kansas counties. With annual revenues of $208 million, the Hays-based co-op has 285 employees and eight walk-in offices throughout its service area.