Eagle River’s John Sims named ENSTAR president

Tuesday, September 12, 2017 - 11:38
  • Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce president John Sims speaks during a chamber luncheon on Wednesday, Aug. 16. Sims was recently named
  • John Sims (Photo courtesy ENSTAR)

ENSTAR Natural Gas has tapped into the Chugiak-Eagle River area to find its first home-grown president.

Eagle River’s John Sims has been named to head up the company, which delivers gas to more than 143,000 customers in the Cook Inlet area from Homer north to Big Lake, according to the company’s website.

At a meeting of the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, Aug. 16, Sims (who is also the chamber president) said he’s the first “born-and-raised” Alaskan to be the company’s president.

“I’m very proud of that,” he said.

ENSTAR is a subsidiary of Calgary-based AltaGas. The company officially announced Sims’s promotion in a press release sent out Tuesday, Aug. 22. The release said Sims will replace Jared Green, who has served as ENSTAR president since 2014 and is moving to Canada to become president of AltaGas Canadian Utilities.

Sims, 39, said he had his first day on the job Tuesday, Aug. 15. Since joining the company in 2005 he’s held a variety of jobs, most recently serving as ENSTAR’s vice president of corporate resources. Sims is a 1996 Chugiak High grad who received his undergraduate degree in 2001 from Hillsdale College in Michigan. Sims also has an MBA from the University of Alaska Anchorage and in 2013 he was named to the Alaska Journal of Commerce “Top Forty under 40” list.

“I look forward to preserving the integrity and value of the service ENSTAR provides, furthering our dedicaiton to ENSTAR customers and the communities we serve, and pursuing the growth of our system in the years to come,” he said in the press release.

Though the official announcement came Tuesday, Sims displayed a dry sense of humor during the Aug. 16 chamber meeting where word of his promotion was first shared. After a member singled out the group’s president in recognition of the promotion, Sims pretended to shrug off the honor.

“Thank you, I appreciate that,” he said. “Next?”

Sims was just joking, and followed up by thanking the chamber members for their support and saying he’s looking forward to his new role with the company.

“It is a challenging, exciting time,” he said.

In a follow-up interview with the Star Aug. 21, Sims said the promotion is a big honor.

“It definitly is and definitely not one I’m taking for granted,” he said.

Natural gas supply is a hot topic of converstaion in Alaska, where supplies in Cook Inlet have been dwindling in recent years. However, in recent years smaller gas companies have been producing gas, with ENSTAR agreeing last year to a major deal with Hillcorp to supply gas to the company.

Sims said working to ensure customers have a reliable source of natural gas will be his top priority.

“Gas supply is always one of the biggest challenges,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing is finding long term supply solutions.”

Sims said ENSTAR has an excellent safety record, and he wants to continue to emphasize and expand on that record. He said the company has recently received two national safety awards, and safety will continue to be a priority.

“That’s always going to be ENSTAR’s focus,” he said.

One of the biggest challenges with safety is avoiding complacency, he said. One of his jobs will be to keep the existing safety culture in place while finding new ways to keep employees engaged. Fortunately, he said he’s got plenty of people at Enstar to help.

“I sit in an office, but the guys in the field are the actual leaders of this company,” he said. “And we have some great leaders in the field.”

In addition to his role at ENSTAR, Sims (whose term as chamber president ends next month) is also active in the Junior Achievement program, serves on the Alaska Regional Hospital advisory board and coaches youth hockey and baseball. Sims and his wife, Kai Binkley Sims, have three children.

Being so active in the community can be challenging, he said, but being surrounded by like-minded people definitley helps. For example, he coaches baseball and hockey with fellow Chugiak grads Billy Lierman and Brian Swanson — both of whom are also very busy with numerous other interests. But they make it work, he said.

“It’s kind of a partnership when you’re working with people who are equally busy,” he said.

The reason is simple:

“We all just love being a part of Chugiak-Eagle River,” he said. “We grew up here and had so much support from the community that it is important to all of us to give back.”

Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at [email protected] or (907) 205-0082

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