South Tahoe Public Utility District names new GM to replace retiring Richard Solbrig
With longtime general manager Richard Solbrig retiring in January, South Tahoe Public Utility District was in need of a new leader.
Now, the district believes it has found its man.
John Thiel, a 26-year veteran of the utility district, has been tapped to take the reigns at STPUD following Solbrig’s retirement.
Thiel is a licensed professional civil engineer with extensive experience in the planning, design, permitting, financing and construction of over 100 projects, according to the district. In his previous role as engineering manager, Thiel was responsible for a 10-year, $93 million capital improvement program.
“I am looking forward to working with the board, our staff, and the community, to build a better and brighter future for not just the district, but also the community of South Lake Tahoe,” Thiel said in a statement.
The board of directors, which voted 4-1 to approve the appointment (Jim Jones was the lone dissenting vote), hopes Thiel will continue the legacy of long internal leadership at the district. Solbrig, who was first hired at STPUD in the early 1990s, has served as general manager for the past 15 years.
“The board believes that John will be a continuation of the tradition of long-term employees who have transitioned to general manager as a result of their engineering expertise, the way they treat others, their attention to finances, their understanding and concern for our customers’ opinions, and their ability to create a collaborative and pleasant place to work,” board member Duane Wallace said in a statement.
Although the board voted on the appointment they have yet to approve a formal contract. An executive committee still needs to negotiate the terms of a contract with Thiel before it can come back for approval.
Thiel, according to the district, is known for his engineering design, cost-effectiveness, and creating a culture of collaboration both within STPUD and with regional partner agencies.
He holds a bachelor of science in civil engineering from Iowa State University and a master of business administration from the University of Nevada, where he received academic honors from SAE.
Originally from Morton, Illinois, Thiel worked as a consulting engineer in St. Louis and Pasadena prior to starting at the district in 1992.
A 26-year resident of South Lake Tahoe, Thiel enjoys ’80s music, Crossfit, skiing and boating with his 23-year-old son, Andrew, and trail running with his dog, Leroy.