A Tribute to Dick Chapman (1937-2020)
At the beginning of May, the VELCO family learned of the passing of Richard “Dick” Chapman, a former colleague and Chief Executive Officer of Vermont Electric Power Company. Many VELCO employees remember Dick as a respected and engaged leader whom required excellence from everyone. The following is a tribute to Dick through the remembrances of those who worked with him at VELCO.
Dick started his VELCO career in 1992 as the Chief Operating Officer, became CEO in 1994, and spent the next nine years making a lasting impact on the organization. He came to VELCO with a diverse background serving in leadership roles in government, banking and manufacturing. His time at the IBM plant in Essex, Vermont provided him with firsthand customer experience of how an unplanned outage affects business productivity. That experience transferred to his role at VELCO and helped shape Dick’s “zero-defects” philosophy as it applied to power system reliability.
Upon arriving at VELCO, he quickly learned the electric transmission business and formed an understanding of the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead, intent on being a driving force for innovation and improved performance. Dick was adamant about finding new, innovative ways to improve system reliability. As one VELCO employee who worked closely with Dick described him, “He did not except past thinking, and encouraged everyone around him to think differently.” He recognized the value in new technologies and was instrumental in the installation of VELCO’s fiber optic network, which enabled the installation of VELCO’s high-speed protective relaying system – all in the name of improved power quality.
In addition to his steadfast focus on reliability, Dick had a certain way of providing care and support to his colleagues. Many remember his handwritten notes offering appreciation for good work or the success of a project. In one instance, an employee recalls taking a look under the hood of Dick’s new car, “a rocket ship with a V8”, and before the end of the conversation, Dick tossed him the keys and said go take it for a spin. “That was Dick!”
The VELCO family will remember Dick for his passion, intelligence and desire to make VELCO a stronger organization. His leadership inspired a spirit of learning and constant improvement – a legacy that we carry forward in the company today.