After 20 years as the Collierville Public Services Director, Bill Kilp will retire at the end of the month.
When Kilp was hired in 1999, the town was growing at a rapid pace. There were around 30,000 Collierville residents and more than 800 new homes annually built. Kilp’s first project on the job also had growth in mind. He was asked to build a new Public Services Complex – in a different location and practically six times the size of the current facility.
“It was one of the neatest jobs, because it was my building,” said Kilp.
The facility at 500 Keough Road is home to the town’s fleet maintenance, equipment parking areas and public works and utilities administration. After the facility opened, it was on to the next project for Kilp. This pace continued for the following 20 years.
Other career highlights included building another waste water treatment plant, developing their work-order management system, creating the leaf mulching site and program, establishing a solid waste service that is efficient yet one of the lowest rates in the county, and fostering a workplace culture of exceptional customer service and dedication.
Public works, at its core, is an essential function of a city contributing to the welfare and quality of life for an entire community. Kilp ensured that his department provided and exceeded expectations of this service to Collierville residents. He attributes this customer service mentality to working together like a big family.
“Everyone helps each other out, and makes each other’s jobs easier,” said Kilp. “If someone at our front desk steps out, and the phone rings, I’ll answer it.”
If Kilp answers the phone, there really is no one better to field the caller’s inquiry.
Prior to his work with Collierville, he worked for 16 years in the public works and utilities industry with Bartlett, and 10 years as an engineering consultant in the private sector.
The son of a civil engineer, Kilp said he was interested in engineering himself, however at first, he was drawn to the electrical side.
“I didn’t really like it, because you couldn’t see what you were working on – you can’t see electricity. I switched my major to civil engineering, because I liked working outside and building things,” he noted.
Kilp built numerous things, and if you look around Collierville, you can see them.
He built facilities and supporting infrastructure to manage a growing and thriving community.
He built programs and services to improve efficiency and the quality of life for residents.
Kilp built a department that grew from 75 to 118 full-time employees. He built relationships with Public Works professionals all over the country (and even internationally). He built a workplace culture that provides the best service possible to the residents of Collierville.
When asked what he would miss the most about his job, he said two words, “the people.”
“Bill came to Collierville during a period of unprecedented growth,” said James Lewellen, town administrator. “He oversaw the construction of all our existing Public Works and Utilities grounds, buildings and plants. He grew all our operations into a level of quality that is frequently modeled as a standard for others. But, the better story is about the friendship we built and the respect I have for him as a person.
“Bill is a constant,” he continued. “He is who he is every day. He never changes his attitude or disposition no matter what else is going on in his world. I’ve watched him suffer through pain and tragedy in his life without ever failing to put others first. For the past twenty years, Collierville Public Services has been his life. There is no way to replace that. I’ve gotten text messages at all hours of the night. I’ve even gotten text messages only a few hours after his having surgery. Work never takes a back seat in Bill’s world. He leaves an impressive legacy. I can’t begin to fathom all the ways he will be missed.”