Outgoing Border States CEO to join Burgum's office

Border States Electric’s CEO Tammy Miller, pictured Monday, March 4, 2019, has guided the Fargo-based firm’s growth to having locations in 22 states and more than $2 billion in annual sales.

BISMARCK — North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum named outgoing Border States Electric CEO Tammy Miller as his next chief operating officer Wednesday, June 19.

Miller will succeed Jodi Uecker, according to a news release from the governor’s office, but she won’t officially join the office until April 2020 due to her commitments to Border States. Miller had previously announced plans to retire from the employee-owned company in March 2020, after which its president, David White, will take over as CEO.

But after she joins the governor’s office, Miller will stay on as chairwoman of Border States, a Fargo-based wholesale electrical supply company that provides electrical utility, construction and industrial supplies and boasts more than 2,600 “employee-owners” in 22 states. She has served as its CEO and board chairwoman since 2006.

Miller said her future chairwoman post will be a “non-executive” role that will involve facilitating board meetings and won’t be a “heavy left at all.” She won’t have day-to-day decision-making duties, she said.

Still, Miller may have to recuse herself from situations in which Border States “would come into contact with state business,” Burgum’s spokesman Mike Nowatzki said.

Burgum’s office touted the company’s robust growth under Miller’s leadership, including a “fivefold increase in annual sales to nearly $2.5 billion.” Her hire reflects a trend within the Burgum administration to seek private sector talent.

“We are thrilled, grateful and incredibly fortunate to be bringing on board another high-caliber leader with vast experience and success in running a large organization, and with strengths in executing strategy, engagement, communications, enhancing culture and being accessible,” Burgum, a Republican and former software executive, said in a statement.

Uecker will retire from full-time employment in the governor’s office June 30 and help with the transition in a part-time role afterward. Miller will start a transition process in October.

Uecker has held the COO position since Burgum created it when he took office in late 2016. He split the traditional chief of staff position into the chief operating officer and chief administrative officer, with the COO focusing more on working directly with Cabinet agencies, Nowatzki said.

Miller considered challenging then-Sen. Heidi Heitkamp during the 2018 election, but opted against it. Republican Kevin Cramer ultimately ousted the Democratic incumbent.

In an interview, Miller said she was focused on the COO job rather than any future political aspirations. She said the governor had previously reached out to her “to help with some opportunities,” but the timing didn’t work out.

“I always have been passionate about giving back to our communities and have had an interest in public service,” Miller said.

Miller will earn a $150,000 annual salary in Burgum’s office, Nowatzki said. She’s a native of Brocket, N.D., who earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master of business administration degree from Minnesota State University Moorhead, and she’s a certified public accountant.

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