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Marketing & Competing

Fortnightly Magazine - October 15 1996

particular strengths and weaknesses and, depending on the circumstances, each of these responses could make sense.

LDCs have special challenges to overcome as the gas market transforms itself, especially the ever-present oversight of PUCs and the social obligation to serve as the gas suppliers of last resort to all customers in their service territories. But they also have special advantages.

"LDCs are more than just a network of pipes," notes Debra Reed, SoCalGas's senior vice president in charge of energy distribution services. "They're a connection to customers." The familiarity and name recognition that connecting with customers has built over the years will serve LDCs like Total Gas well as they defend their home markets.

Ultimately, Total Gas's success or failure will depend on the CEO's personal vision. Does he see the new competitive gas market as full of defensive challenges and obstacles? Or is his attitude more like that of Craig Matthews, the new president of Brooklyn Union? His greatest ambition? "I want to be able to look back at the end of my career and be able to say that the gas LDC I came to work for has been transformed into a tight, competitive, aggressive leader in the new energy industry."

Those are words that anyone in command of a gas LDC can live by. t

James R. Pierobon and Adam Findeisen counsel energy providers and other companies on strategic marketing initiatives through Potomac Communications Group, Inc., in Washington, DC.

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