General Manger will Retire at End of Year
After 31 years with Marshfield Utilities, General Manager Robert “Bob” Trussoni is calling it a career. Read more here.
Starting as an Electric Line Superintendent in 1986, Trussoni has also served as Technical Services Manager, Electric & Communications Manager (to which “Gas” was later added), and Assistant General Manager, before assuming the role of General Manager in 2013.
Trussoni’s interest in utility work began in high school, during which time he worked for an electrician. After attending UW-LaCrosse, Trussoni became an Electrical Power Technician and went to work for investor-owned Iowa Southern Utilities in Washington, Iowa.
[“The main difference between investor-owned and publicly-owned, is with investor-owned the goal is to make money,” explained Trussoni. “The difference on a publicly-owned owned utility is we don’t have that profit motive or stockholder that we have to pay. Any money that we make goes back into the system. It doesn’t get paid back to investors. We do pay an amount to the City every year, as they are our owner, and that helps relieve the tax burden on the residents, so there’s an advantage to that. Our focus is on service.”]
After seeing an advertisement for an open position in Marshfield, Trussoni drove six hours to Marshfield- first to inspect the community and later for an interview.
“When I came up here for the interview and I looked around the system, I had a really good idea of what they had and what they needed,” he said. “ In the interview, I mentioned some of that and the manager at the time seemed to be impressed. When I got home, I had a message to give them a call and that they wanted to make me an offer. It was a good thing.”
Telling his wife, Monica, that he really liked the community, the couple moved to Marshfield for what they intended to be a five-year stay.
“Once we got to know the community and the kids started school here, the idea of leaving just went away,” he said. “We decided we were going to make our careers here, and that was a very good decision.”
Trussoni said that when he arrived in Marshfield, the service levels were poor, with many outages.
“We had total system blackouts a number of times in my first few years here,” he said. “Now, not just because of my efforts, but because of everyone’s efforts in electric department, we have a very good system. We’ve won a number of national awards for reliability. We’re one of the most reliable systems in the nation and we’re very proud of that.”
Trussoni is also proud of the water bonding solution with the Public Service Commission, in which a 10% rate increase will save 22 million dollars over the course of the water main replacement project.
Another significant project which Trussoni has been involved with is replacing lead service lines in the city. Overall, he is proud of how efficient the Utility is in Marshfield, and the technology in place.
“Some utilities have taken recent steps to run their operation more efficiently, but for us it’s been an ongoing process for many years,” he said.
Of particular note, the electric system has the ability to alert when a customer loses power, and on the water side, the ability to monitor usage and detect leaks.
Whomever takes over the role will undertake various projects, including the potential development of a solar energy system and eventual refurbishing of the water treatment plant. Additionally, there are challenges with the current Utility building location, something that has been put on hold until the location of the new Hefko Pool is determined.
“There are indications that the pool is going to stay where it is, so we need to figure out how we can stay where we are and make it work for both of us,” he said. “We’ve been looking for 25 years at replacing or remodeling our building. We’ve grown considerably over the years with new regulatory requirements and customer expectations. We’ve outgrown this building. We’ve moved water staff to another building and they are bulging at the seams so we really need to look at doing something.”
After retirement, Trussoni and Monica plan to stay in Marshfield.
“We have a lot of things that we would like to do,” he said, adding that he looks forward to becoming more involved at his church, as well as some travel. Already on the docket is a mission trip to Jamaica, as well as a few trips for fun. He is also looking forward to spending more time with his family, which includes four daughters and their husbands and ten grandchildren.
Though he’s looking forward to pursuing personal interests, Trussoni calls his decision to leave Marshfield Utilities a “difficult” one.
“I feel very blessed to have worked here. It’s been a great place to work,” he said, applauding the work of his team. “I may be the one in the lead, but we’ve got very dedicated employees. We’ve worked on building a positive culture here. We want good attitudes. People are more productive when they have a positive attitude. We do what we can to make sure any concerns are addressed. We do as much as we can.”
Marshfield Utilities Commission will conduct a national search for Trussoni’s successor, and the new person will likely take over the position by the end of the year. Until then, Trussoni will enjoy his final months with Marshfield Utility.
“It’s been a long career. It’s been a wonderful career. The way I see it, the Utility allowed me to raise my family, send my kids through school,” he said. “Marshfield is a good place to live. There are so many things happening in Marshfield that keep it alive.”