Another city employee with many years of service will soon be leaving. Rob Lechner, the city of Lodi’s business development manager, announced earlier this week that he has accepted a position with Sacramento Municipal Utility District. Thursday will be his last day with Lodi.
Lechner was earning $98,000 annually as the city’s business development manager. SMUD spokesman Chris Capra could only say Lechner would be making between $118,110 and $147,517 in his new position.
Lechner will become SMUD’s supervisor of commercial accounts management, overseeing a team of about 30 people.
Lechner said his new position is similar to the role he serves in Lodi, promoting energy efficiency, addressing project or transformer issues, and assisting customers with questions or utility concerns.
“This is a great opportunity for me with one of the larger utilities, that has really in many ways been considered one of the industry leaders in regards to interests and upcoming technologies,” he said.
Lechner, 51, began his career with the city as manager of customer programs at Lodi Electric Utility in May 1998.
He took on the duties of the business development manager last year, which consisted of planning, organizing and directing the city’s economic development activities, including economic strategies, business attraction, expansion and retention, and marketing and public relations, according to the job description posted on the city’s website this week.
“The role I played last year, as well as during my entire 16 years in the city, is the point of contact not only for big accounts, but global accounts for Lodi as well,” he said.
Interim City Manager Steve Schwabauer said it could take as many as three months to interview and recruit Lechner’s successor.
He said there were no plans to fill the position on an interim basis, as he and Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Jeff Hood would most likely be taking on some of Lechner’s duties for now.
“Rob’s been a real asset to the economic development of Lodi, especially in regards to maintaining the city’s existing job base, and he’s built a great relationship with the manufacturing industry in Lodi,” Schwabauer said. “We’re not only losing him, we’re losing a key asset in economic development.”
Lechner said when he first came to the city, it had no energy or solar programs, nor any marketing for them. He said creating those aspects of the city’s business development has been a very rewarding experience.
He plans to take much of what he’s learned during his time in Lodi to Sacramento.
Lechner has been living in Sacramento since 2011 with his wife, and his son attends school there. He said accepting a position with that city’s utility district is almost like coming home.
“My experience in Lodi has been amazing, to work with such talented individuals and dear people,” he said. “The community should know they’re in good hands with the city staff here.”
Contact reporter Wes Bowers at email@example.com.