On April 29, the Central Basin Municipal Water District (Central Basin) Board of Directors voted 4-0 to approve a five year contract with Antonio Perez, the district’s new general manager. Napa-based Mathis Group, one of California’s leading recruitment firms for water district placements, was instrumental in bringing forth this development. Hired by the Board in late September, Mathis Group’s thorough process found the perfect fit for the district, whose service area consists of 227 square miles, encompassing 24 cities in southeast Los Angeles as well as unincorporated areas in the county.
Identifying the right candidate for the position presented a number of challenges for Mathis Group. “It has been one of the most difficult and yet most exhilarating placements I’ve done in the past three years” said Dr. Bill Mathis, owner and Management Psychologist at Mathis Group. The Board was specific and demanding in their recruitment goals, which served as part of the Board’s larger mission to heighten the district’s reputation and level of service. This presented the daunting task of finding a manger with the vision, values, team orientation, credibility and experience in California water issues to make these goals reality. Many prospective applicants Mathis Group approached were fearful of taking on such a large order.
Mathis Group started the elaborate recruitment process by reviewing the nearly 50 applications for the position. Of these 50, 20 Mathis Group selected 20 as strong candidates. At this point in the recruitment process, Mathis Group assembled a team of current general managers to serve as consultants to further narrow the selection. The top 6 candidates were interviewed by a panel of leading water professionals in the area, including representatives from Metropolitan Water District, Lakewood Water District and Roland Water District. Candidates were screened based on a number of criteria including their strategies to improve customer service, revitalize staff, strengthen image and forge stronger relationships with regional partners. The often divided Board interviewed the three finalists, and made the unanimous decision to select Mr. Perez at the April 23rd meeting.
It is not hard to see why Mr. Perez beat out the competition for the position. He has over 30 years of engineering experience, and is currently director of operations and business development at D R Consultants and Designers. He previously served 22-years with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD), where he was the Design Manager and Project Engineer for many of MWD’s key projects, including working as Technical Control Team Manager overseeing MWD’s Value Engineering and QA/QC programs for the year’s long, multi-billion dollar Capital Improvement Program. His engineering background combined with his relationship with MWD positions him to be a perfect liaison between Central Basin, MWD, the Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WRD) and the 27 pumpers Central Basin services. He holds a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley and a Masters of Business Administration from Pepperdine University.
“We are excited to have Mr. Perez come on board as general manager and provide professional management for the district,” said James Roybal, Central Basin Board President. “His experience and leadership in the water industry are in alignment with the Board’s goal of providing the highest level of service to all of the residents in the Central Basin region.”
“My interviewing with him post-selection shows that he has new energy, is a confident leader and I think that he is going to bring people together and hold staff accountable” said Dr. Mathis.
Mr. Perez starts his tenure as general manager in June. Mathis Group is looking forward to working with neighboring water districts in the upcoming months to fill personnel vacancies and recruit new talent.