Since its start 20 years ago, Walton Gas has consistently been a favorite with Georgia consumers. Philip Peters, longtime commercial accounts representative, is one of the reasons why, says Jim Bottone, vice president of Walton Energy.
“He’s living proof that we are a company with employees who truly care about their customers — and each other,” he said.
Philip has been a Walton Gas employee since 2005, and a natural gas industry professional for more than 40 years. Next month, he’ll officially retire from a career that has garnered many loyal fans for Walton Gas.
Focusing on people
Among them is Chris Durand, director of management services for the Salvation Army Metro Atlanta Area Command. Chris is responsible for overseeing the business affairs of the nonprofit’s numerous residential and commercial facilities, a job that puts him in touch with many service providers on a daily basis. He praises Philip’s people-focused approach to business.
“He’s phenomenal — just the highest level of integrity
and honesty in a business relationship.”
“He’s phenomenal — just the highest level of integrity and honesty in a business relationship,” Chris said. “Walton Gas and Philip have a heart and passion for the mission we’re trying to accomplish here — and I value that.”
The Atlanta unit of the Salvation Army has been a Walton Gas customer since 2005. After 17 years, they have no interest in making a change, Chris said.
“I get a lot of calls from other natural gas companies, and they would love to have our business. But they all have these complicated bills and hidden fees,” he said. “Working with Philip and Walton Gas isn’t like that. Everything is really, really simple.”
Jeff Hall, a co-owner of 10 Marco’s Pizza stores and four daycare centers in western Georgia, contracts with Walton Gas for his businesses. Philip has worked alongside the family-owned company as it has grown over the years. Their newest pizza store will soon open in Rockmart.
“Not only do I like working with Philip, I’ve also recommended him and Walton Gas to other Marco’s franchise owners in the state,” Jeff said, complementing the company’s customer service and competitive rates.
Exceptional communication is another reason he has enjoyed working with Philip through the years.
“If I call Philip, he’ll answer the phone even if he’s on vacation.”
“In this day and age, it’s rare to work with someone who will answer your call or at least call you right back,” the businessman said. “But if I call Philip, he’ll answer the phone even if he’s on vacation.”
Mack Guest is another longtime fan of the Walton Gas employee.
“He understands my business,” said Mack, CEO of LAD Truck Lines and three complementary companies in Watkinsville and Athens. “I know he’s always looking out for my company.”
When he has undertaken a new construction project to expand the operation, Mack has asked Philip’s advice on energy strategies.
“I can always count on him to be
straightforward and ahead of the curve.”
“I’d ask his opinion and he’d give me the best options,” Mack recalls. “I can always count on him to be straightforward and ahead of the curve.”
Caring is a culture
Throughout his decades in the industry, Philip has demonstrated again and again that being people-focused is more than an advertising slogan at Walton Gas, added co-worker Greg Brooks, public relations director.
“Philip’s first priority is always the customer. He takes care of each one as if they were his only account and makes sure they have the best possible price and service for their natural gas,” he said. “Philip truly cares.”
“He takes care of each one as if they were his only account …”
Philip has similar thoughts about his co-workers and customers, recalling how they rallied around him when he had a stroke in January 2013.
“Walton people gave me a chance to get my life back,” he said with a slight catch in his voice, remembering the difficult period of his life.
The stroke left him unable to talk, read or write — all skills his job required. After seven months of intensive therapy, Philip returned to his job amid the busiest season for natural gas contract renewals.
“My co-workers encouraged me and helped me,” he said, recalling the initial challenges he had to overcome to get back to business as usual. “I am forever grateful.”
He also received encouragement from customers. Several shared their own personal experiences with strokes to remind him that he was not alone.
The Salvation Army’s Chris Durand has a special memory of that period. About the time Philip was returning to work, Chris experienced a stroke. The two bonded over the experience, sharing information and cheering on small successes on the way to recovery.
“I was always impressed with his focus and hard work to regain all his skills,” Chris said. “It inspired me to do the same.”
A legacy of service
Philip is looking forward to spending more time on the golf course, caring for his yard and watching the grandchildren in sporting events. He heads into retirement secure in the knowledge that his Walton Gas customers will be well cared for.
He’s certain his business relationships
will be in good hands with Ashlie Franklin.
True to his customer care reputation, Philip has carefully mentored the representative who will take over his accounts at year’s end. He’s certain his business relationships will be in good hands with Ashlie Franklin.
“Philip introduced me to Ashlie a year ago to ensure we’d have plenty of opportunity to get to know each other before he retired,” said Mack Guest. “She has the same commitment to communications and service.”
Ashlie joined Walton Gas in 2019 as a commercial accounts representative. She previously served as a lead customer service representative for more than seven years at Walton EMC, parent company of Walton Gas.
“Philip has been such a wonderful mentor and friend,” she said. “I will forever be grateful to him for his kindness and support. I feel very fortunate and blessed to have worked alongside him.”
Small and mid-size businesses needing natural gas service can reach Ashlie at 678-361-9686.