Wills named new pres­i­dent of SMO Energy

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By CAROL SMITH csmith@somd­news.com

The Wills Group re­cently ap­pointed Joe Wills as pres­i­dent of SMO Energy, provider of heat­ing fuel, propane and HVAC equip­ment to South­ern Mary­land, Prince Ge­orge’s and Anne Arun­del Coun­ties. Wills suc­ceeds John Combs who re­tired July 1.

Wills’ ap­point­ment be­gins the fourth gen­er­a­tion of fam­ily lead­er­ship within The Wills Group. Head­quar­tered in La Plata, the group is the par­ent com­pany of SMO Energy, Dash In Food Stores, Splash In ECO Car Wash, SMO Mo­tor Fu­els and op­er­ates Po­tomac Energy Hold­ings in a joint ven­ture with Mo­tiva En­ter­prises LLC.

Wills brings a range of ex­pe­ri­ence from across the or­ga­ni­za­tion into his new role. For the past year he served as vice pres­i­dent of SMO Energy.

“That was spe­cial and unique for me be­cause it gave me the op­por­tu­nity to work with John Combs,” Wills said. “John Combs was the pres­i­dent of SMO Energy. He had been with our com­pany for 41 years. So, the past year, be­ing able to work with him and have him im­part all of his knowl­edge of in­dus­try, of cul­ture, of peo­ple, was a spe­cial year for me. And I’ve got big shoes to fill.”

Wills said he also held pre­vi­ous po­si­tions with the com­pany as area man­ager for SMO Mo­tor Fu­els and over­saw re­la­tion­ships with “about 35” Shell gas sta­tions, and ran the pric­ing and lo­gis­tics depart­ment for re­tail mar­ket­ing.

Wills said the com­pany’s fo­cus on its cus­tomers, em­ploy­ees and growth is what guides it.

“What re­ally does guide us is our pur­suit of cus­tomer cen­tric­ity, em­ployee cen­tric­ity and growth,” Wills said. “We do have th­ese won­der­ful re­la­tion­ships with 30,000-plus cus­tomers in the South­ern Mary­land re­gion and they put their trust in us to take care of their home com­fort needs and we are deeply com­mit­ted to be­ing there for them when they need us.”

SMO Energy has ap­prox­i­mately 175 em­ploy­ees to help en­sure its cus­tomers’ needs are sat­is­fied. The com­pany hires and trains de­liv­ery driv­ers, ser­vice tech­ni­cians, in­stal­la­tion tech­ni­cians, de­liv­ery and ser­vice dis­patch­ers, and client care agents who han­dle the phone calls from cus­tomers, ac­cord­ing to Wills.

“To de­liver a great cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence, or an out­stand­ing cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence, you’ve got to have your em­ploy­ees that are fully en­gaged and that are re­ceiv­ing the train­ing that they need to be able to ef­fec­tively do their jobs,” Wills said. “So train­ing is some­thing that is very im­por­tant to us.”

SMO Energy has a ded­i­cated full-time trainer on staff, Wills said. Tech­ni­cians re­ceive live train­ing on the com­pany’s equip­ment in the Shy­man­sky In­sti­tute, a train­ing fa­cil­ity lo­cated at SMO Energy’s of­fices in La Plata.

Wills said he also rec­og­nizes the im­por­tance of feed­back and en­cour­ages it from the com­pany’s cus­tomers and em­ploy­ees.

“I am a firm be­liever in feed­back. So get­ting feed­back, good and bad, from cus­tomers and em­ploy­ees helps us to make de­ci­sions on im­prove­ments where ap­pli­ca­ble,” he said.

“When you think about our busi­ness, we’re en­ter­ing peo­ple’s homes,” Wills said. “And so when we’re en­ter­ing peo­ple’s homes, we want to en­ter their home, fix what­ever is­sues they’re hav­ing and leave their home in the same way as we went in. And we want that to be a pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence.

“And we’re also com­mit­ted to al­ways get­ting bet­ter around the cus­tomer and em­ployee ex­pe­ri­ences be­cause we know that’s what can dif­fer­en­ti­ate us.”

Wills said SMO Energy also pro­vides sup­port to The Wills Group’s com­mu­nity en­gage­ment pro­gram. That pro­gram helps ful­fill the ba­sic needs of peo­ple in the com­mu­ni­ties the com­pany serves, fo­cus­ing on the sup­port of safe and healthy homes and elim­i­na­tion of child­hood hunger.

“We’ve been ac­tive in our com­mu­ni­ties for the long­est time, dat­ing back to 1926,” he said.

“On the safe and healthy homes side, within SMO Energy, we do have our SMO Cares pro­gram,” Wills said. “And in 2016 alone, we as­sisted over 650 fam­i­lies across South­ern Mary­land.” The SMO Cares pro­gram pro­vides energy as­sis­tance, in­clud­ing free or re­duced cost equip­ment and re­pairs, to el­i­gi­ble cus­tomers.

Wills said the com­pany will be look­ing at and test­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to de­ter­mine how the com­pany can grow and ef­fec­tively solve its cus­tomers’ prob­lems, as well as ex­plore ways new tech­nol­ogy can be used to im­prove cus­tomer en­gage­ment.

“We want to look for dif­fer­ent ways to get bet­ter for our cus­tomers. We want to look for dif­fer­ent ser­vices to pro­vide for our cus­tomers,” Wills said.

STAFF PHOTO BY CAROL SMITH

Joe Wills, pres­i­dent of SMO Energy, stands out­side of the com­pany’s of­fices in La Plata. He suc­ceeds John Combs, who re­tired July 1.

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