'It was quite an honor': Former York Water president Jeff Hines wins business achievement award
After close to 30 years of working at York Water Co., former President and CEO Jeff Hines retired in 2019.
And now, he's receiving a prestigious honor.
Hines has been named the 2021 recipient of the York County Economic Alliance Business Achievement Award.
"I was just delighted and shocked," Hines said of receiving the award. "When I look at the previous recipients, I certainly don't deserve this award, but I'm certainly honored that they kicked around and found me."
Hines first became a York resident in 1990 after spending five years in the Army as an engineer. Through the next 29 years, he rose in the ranks of York Water Co., from engineer/construction manager to vice president-engineering to chief operating officer and secretary before being named the president and CEO in 2008. The company is the oldest investor-owned water utility in the country.
After 9/11, Hines was activated in the Army Reserves to serve in Operation Enduring Freedom. He was deployed to Kuwait, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman, serving as battle staff engineer for the Third U.S. Army and liaison officer to the Army Corps of Engineers.
Hines said that working at a publicly traded water company was fascinating. "I had opportunities to grow within the company, and the community is just phenomenal," he said of why he stayed at a single company for almost 30 years. "It's big enough to have a lot of cultural and unique opportunities but small enough that just about everyone can make a difference."
After his time at the water company, Hines said some lessons he has for business people are to prioritize lifelong learning and always try to grow beyond what they're doing. "Having people around to mentor you or maybe later in your career perhaps, turning around mentoring others is critical and enjoyable and very rewarding," he said.
Communication is also important, Hines said. "No matter how good of an engineer or scientist that you are, if you can't communicate well, it's all for naught."
"Jeff is an outstanding humanitarian and community leader who exemplifies with the highest integrity and dignity the spirit of the business achievement award," YCEA Chair William T. Yanavitch said in an email.
President and CEO of York Water Co. JT Hand has fond memories of Hines. "There really is no one that comes to mind for me of a higher caliber than Jeff Hines does," Hand said. He's known Hines for close to 16 years, predating his own relocation to York County.
Hand served with Hines in the Third U.S. Army. After retiring from the military, Hand was looking for a home and ended up finding a house in York. "In my mind I went 'Holy crap, I know somebody from York. I met this guy Jeff Hines who was from York, Pennsylvania,'" he said. He reached out to Hines, who came to the home inspection and walked through the house with Hand to welcome his family to York.
"This is a guy who I hadn't seen for five or six years and didn't know me from Adam, other than having a relationship in the middle of the desert in Southwest Asia," Hand said. "And that's Jeff Hines. It wasn't because we served in the military together or he had this common experience. That's who Jeff is: Always available to reach out, to welcome, to support, to embrace somebody new to the community, because he recognizes the benefit of bringing people into this community."