Cox Communications said Monday that long-time president and CEO Patrick Esser will retire effective Dec. 31, after 15 years at the helm. He will be replaced by EVP and Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Mark Greatrex who will be named president.
"I've always been fascinated by the cable business and have been fortunate to find a special family-owned company that lives its values," Esser said in a press release. "I'm grateful for the tremendous opportunities I've been given at Cox and the numerous mentors and committed peers that have helped me along this unbelievable ride of a lifetime."
Esser, 64, joined Cox in 1979 as director of programming at its Hampton Roads, Va., operation and steadily moved up the ranks, being named chief operating officer in 2001. He became CEO in 2006 after then-CEO James Robbins retired. During Esser’s tenure, Cox has more than doubled its business to become the largest private telecom company in the country, serving nearly seven million homes and businesses across 18 states.
In addition, Esser serves as chair of the C-SPAN board and on the board of directors of CableLabs and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), i an adviser to the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications and on the national Board of Governors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
In 2007, Multichannel News named Esser its first "Executive of the Year" and in 2013, he was awarded the distinguished Vanguard Award for Leadership — the industry's highest honor.
"We are extremely thankful to Pat Esser for his leadership at Cox Communications," said Alex Taylor, president and CEO of Cox Enterprises, Cox Communications’ parent. "He has grown the business consistently over the years. Even more meaningfully he has done it in the right way — by treating people well and making a positive impact in our communities. Pat is an extraordinary leader."
Taylor added that Greatrex, 58, will be "a great leader for the next chapter in Cox Communications' evolution. He is a wonderful executive and person. I have confidence he will continue to grow the business and will continue our commitment to making the company an exemplary corporate citizen."
Greatrex joined Cox in 2011 as chief marketing officer and was promoted to EVP in 2015. Greatrex helped to develop the Cox brand to highlight its technology and brought to market innovations like Gigablast, Contour TV and Panoramic Wifi.
"I am honored to be leading this very special company with a celebrated history, and an exciting future full of optimism and great momentum," Greatrex said in a press release. "We have a winning strategy and I look forward to amplifying the incredible values of the Cox family and the mission to improve the lives of the next generation."
Esser said he is leaving the company in good hands.
“Mark is a strong and visionary leader who will sustain and amplify the momentum he's helped to achieve in the industry,” Esser said in the press release. “His energy, creativity and sharp strategic sensibilities will drive continued innovation, excellence and passion for our customers. I wish him the best as he moves into his new role."
The smarter way to stay on top of the multichannel video marketplace. Sign up below.
Mike Farrell is senior content producer, finance for Multichannel News/B+C, covering finance, operations and M&A at cable operators and networks across the industry. He joined Multichannel News in September 1998 and has written about major deals and top players in the business ever since. He also writes the On The Money blog, offering deeper dives into a wide variety of topics including, retransmission consent, regional sports networks,and streaming video. In 2015 he won the Jesse H. Neal Award for Best Profile, an in-depth look at the Syfy Network’s Sharknado franchise and its impact on the industry.