Executive changed company, community

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Print this page by Donna C. Gregory

any Dominion Re­­­­­­­­­­sources investors have benefited Chewning’s financial acuity. When Chewning came to Dominion in 1987, the company’s market capitalization was $3.9 billion. By May of this year, it had more than quadrupled to $18.6 billion.

In 2008, Dominion reported operating revenues of $16.3 billion and assets of $42.1 billion. During the past two years, even amid a gloomy economy, the company has twice increased its dividend by 11 percent.

“He’s made Dominion shareholders a lot of money over the years,” says Ruble Hord, a longtime friend of Chewning’s who is a special agent with Northwestern Mutual. “The key thing about a CFO for a big company like Dominion is the ability to grasp complex situations and make something of them. He’s made some really good judgments over the years.”

Chewning retired in June as executive vice president and CFO at Dominion.  “I witnessed a lot of change, and I was involved in most of it,” he says.

Highlights of his career include putting together the winning bid to acquire Pittsburgh-based Consolidated Natural Gas, beating out a competitive offer by Columbia Gas Co., and leading a major selloff of Dominion’s oil and gas operations, netting the company $13 billion. “It was five different transactions — a lot of negotiation, a lot of time, a lot of travel,” says Chewning.

This isn’t the first time Chewning has been recognized for being a top CFO. In 2005, Institutional Investor magazine named him the best CFO in the utility industry.

“Tom has played a pivotal role in transforming Dominion from a regional, regulated electric utility to one of the nation’s pre-eminent diversified energy enterprises and a Fortune 200 corporation,” says former Del. Frank Hall of Richmond.

Chewning has also found time to serve his community. He has served as a board member of the American Heart Association’s Richmond chapter. In 2005, he received a “Humanitarian Award” from the National Conference for Community & Justice and a “Spirit of Giving Award” from the Association of Fundraising Professionals. He also worked tirelessly to have a statue of his friend, tennis champion Arthur Ashe, erected on Richmond’s Monument Avenue.

In retirement, his top civic issue will be advocating early childhood education while serving on the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation board of directors. “I would describe him as our community champion around this issue,” says Sherrie Brach, CEO of the United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg. “He’s very committed to making sure children are ready to start kindergarten and ready to learn and succeed in life. He’s a person who is all about actions, not just about words, and we’re fortunate to have him in this community.”

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