U.S.-based metering giant Itron has named a new president and CEO from within its own ranks, tapping veteran Philip Mezey, who’ll take control starting Jan. 1, 2013. Mezey will guide a company seeking to expand on its recent successes in the North American market, while also looking at new overseas opportunities to leverage its prowess. Mezey is currently president and chief operating officer (COO) of Itron’s global energy segment, a post he assumed in March 2011.
In his initial comments, Mezey said the company’s “most exciting opportunities are bringing the integrated work that we’ve done in North America – metering, communications, software and services – these large engagements; … What we are starting to see, of course, emerge are opportunities, and you’ve heard about South Africa, we’ve talked about Japan, but there are a number of other markets in which this kind of integrated solution, and sometimes with partners as well, I think are going to be the most exciting growth opportunities for the company.” Though he did not specifically name some of those other markets, they are likely to include Europe, Latin America, and countries in Asia Pacific beyond Japan, where utilities in coming years are expected to upgrade to smarter meters and more advanced infrastructure.
Mezey also said his focus will be on helping shape “market-moving deals that open up new markets and build our backlog.” Another Itron veteran, John Holleran, will become executive vice president and chief operating officer (COO) of the company’s global Energy and Water segments.
Mezey has a background in enterprise software: he first joined Itron in 2003, when it acquired Silicon Energy, where Mezey was vice president of software development.
Mezey’s appointment does not come as a big surprise since he takes over from current CEO LeRoy Nosbaum, who is retiring from that position for a second time. Nosbaum came out of retirement a little more than a year ago to help stabilize Itron after it suffered a significant stock decline in the global financial crash. It seemed clear that his tenure this time would not be a long-term one. Nosbaum will stay on as an advisor to the company for at least the next six months after Mezey assumes his new role.
The choice of Mezey makes sense for Itron. He is a respected company leader, with a technical background and a vision of how innovation and partnerships can help keep Itron at the forefront of the market. He takes over a company that is poised to leverage its North American smart grid experience in other markets that are on the cusp of new growth. But Itron faces stiff competition, particularly in Europe where large-scale meter deployments are taking place (in the United Kingdom and Spain in particular), and where vendors like Landis+Gyr, Elster and General Electric are formidable players. It may be that Asia Pacific markets become more fertile ground for Itron, especially in light of its recently announced strategic partnership with Panasonic to develop a smart meter platform aimed at the Japanese market. And in water metering, Itron has already established a beachhead in India, where it’s supplying 250,000 meters to the Delhi water system. Foreign markets can be quite volatile, with few guarantees; but odds are good that Itron has the right team of people and assets to remain a long-term market force.