Celebrating Working Dads in Honor of Father’s Day

Father’s Day was first celebrated on June 19, 1910. However, it was not until 1972 that it became a nationwide holiday in the United States – 58 years after Mother’s Day became official! Today, it’s a holiday honoring fatherhood and celebrating the influence of fathers in society. At Essential, we recognize our employees are our greatest asset and are committed to supporting them in their professional and personal lives. In honor of Father’s Day, we sat down with four dads across our water and gas businesses to get their take on fatherhood.

We spoke with Rick Terrill, Jeffrey Stangroom, Terry Roman and Adam Burger to discuss how to balance parenthood with career responsibilities, what they’ve learned most from raising kids and what piece of advice they all collectively agree on for new dads. Happy Father’s Day!

Rick Terrill is the manager of gas operations for distribution with Delta, based in Kentucky. He’s been with the company for 26 years since he started as a serviceman and now oversees leaders in each district to troubleshoot distribution problems. He’s dad to Jadeyn, 11 and Jakob, 6…plus Josie the family dog!

Jeffrey Stangroom is an operations supervisor with Peoples Natural Gas out of Johnstown/Altoona. He’s been with the company for 28 years and oversees the field customer service department. He is dad to nine kids: Christy, Justin, Ashley, Hope, Travis, Daniel, Manny, Adam, and Alaina, four of which were adopted through foster care. Over the past seven years, Jeffrey and his wife have fostered 34 kids.

Terry Roman is an area director at Aqua in Willow Grove and has been with the company for three years. He oversees the daily operations of the Eastern Division for maintenance and construction for water and wastewater in Bucks and Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Before joining Aqua, he served as the Chief Operating Officer of Penn State Abington. He has four kids, two girls and two boys: Brynn, 10, Braydon, 9, Bria, 7 and Bryce, 6.

Adam Burger is an operations director with Aqua New Jersey. Over the last 3 years Adam oversees all things related to engineering, operations and regulatory requirements. He’s dad to Korben, 4, and Vaughn, 8 months.

What has given you the most joy as a dad?

  • RT: “I think just seeing them grow…and grow up. My daughter plays softball, and my son plays tee ball. I love watching them and coaching. It’s all about them having fun.”
  • JS: “Watching my kids go from little people with developing personalities to adults with families of their own is truly remarkable. I love seeing the wonder in my kids’ eyes when they’re raising their own kids. I’m also a grandfather to 11 now. They call me Pappy.”
  • TR: “I love watching them grow as people and succeed in life, especially with sports and school. I coach baseball and football and I love seeing them learn and make friends. My kids generally get along, but of course there are moments. We just learn from those experiences and keep developing.”
  • AB: “Just watching them learn and grow, seeing their little minds put things together, watching how quickly they hit those big milestones. I also love seeing my kids together and watching their relationship develop.”

What have you learned from your children?

  • RT: “I’ve learned how resilient kids can be, especially having to do school at home during the pandemic. I also don’t think I realized how difficult math was when I was a kid until I had kids of my own!”
  • JS: “Laugh every day. These kids can find something funny with a bug jumping on the sidewalk. I lean into the dad jokes and find humor in life. Charlie Chaplin once said, ‘a day without laughter is a day wasted,’ and I agree.”
  • TR: “The number one thing I’ve learned is patience. This is crucial, especially with four kids.”
  • AB: “Patience, hands down. There’s only one of you and everything just takes more time with kids—getting them ready, getting out the door. It’s hectic. I’ve learned the virtue of patience, and I remember when doing normal things used to be so simple.”

How do you create work-life balance?

  • RT: “Balance is hard. My kids are getting to the ages where they are both doing activities at the same time. They always come first, so you just learn to shuffle. Sometimes work must take priority, but they love me when I come home. That’s all I can ask. We’re also blessed to have grandparents help a lot.”
  • JS: “I just try to stay present in the moment. When I’m with my kids, I’m all in. I’m not on calls, not talking about work. They get my undivided attention. When I’m at work, that’s my priority. It’s hard to find balance, but I don’t miss the important things.
  • TR: “Balance is a struggle. My wife and I make it work. We rely on calendars for everything. We have a house down the shore where my family goes during the summer, and I join them on weekends. Time off is critical to decompress. Utility work is a 24-7 operation and we’re on call all the time, so it’s important that we take time to relax.”
  • AB: “I try to segment the two worlds whenever possible. When I’m at work, I’m working, but when I get home, it’s family time until bedtime. Then I can catch up on other things after the kids are in bed. I try to minimize what I bring home from work, so I don’t interrupt family time on nights and weekends. Work from home benefits are also extremely helpful, as I can sit and have breakfast with my kids or see them in between calls.

What is your dad “superpower”?

  • RT: “I do whatever my family wants or needs from me. They are my number one priority, and I will always be there for them.”
  • JS: “Humor! I’m great with a dad joke. Even when my kids are in a bad mood, I make it my mission to make them laugh. ‘Dad, I’m tired.’ ‘Hi tired, I’m Dad!’ That’s the most fun thing to do—make them laugh.”
  • TR: “My superpower—or maybe super weakness—is that I am the first one to give in. I cave with my daughters. I can’t help it.”
  • AB: “I’m pretty good at playing at a moment’s notice. My oldest son loves chasing, play tag and rough housing, so I always have to be ready to go.”

What advice would you give new dads?

  • RT: “Patience! Have patience! I had kids later in life, and my patience wasn’t really established until I was older. That’s so important and will serve you well.”
  • JS: “The days are long, but the years are short. You blink and your baby is going to the prom…growing up and getting married. No matter what, you won’t be ready for it. Appreciate every day and remember you will never have that day again.”
  • TR: “Enjoy every moment. Time goes fast and they grow up. It’s definitely a balancing act to make it work, and you want to be there for all of their big moments because one day they will be gone. Also, get a color-coded calendar!”
  • AB: “Forget your prior sleep schedule. Step back and enjoy the time with your kids. It’s remarkable to watch them grow. Just enjoy every phase.”

What’s the best part about working at Essential Utilities?

  • RT: “I grew up on a farm, so I like being outside. I have a lot of responsibility and the freedom to make decisions. I have to provide for my family, and Essential makes that possible. It’s a great place to work – everyone is like a big family, and we get to make a difference helping customers.”
  • JS: “Stability. Essential is a financially sound, family-oriented great company. We provide products that are essential to everyday life – water and gas. This helps keep the world turning. I’m fortunate that because of my job with Essential, my wife can stay at home and nurture our kids.”
  • TR: “My coworkers are the best. This is a great company, lots of room for growth and advancement, and the people are the best. Every day is different, but the work we do is critical to life. We’re providing an essential resource to people. We’ve done this for more than 100 years, so we understand the importance of it.
  • AB: “We provide an essential resource, and we understand that responsibility. The work changes, so there is always something new, and I get to hone my skills in a variety of projects. The company is always growing so there is lots of opportunity and a chance to turn a job into a career.”

How will you be celebrating Father’s Day?

  • RT: “We’ll be grilling steaks, burgers and shrimp and just hanging out at the pool with the kids. A simple, great day.”
  • JS: “Just relaxing and having a cookout. The boys will cut the grass for me on Father’s Day!”
  • TR: “We’ll be down the shore, enjoying the weekend on our boat. We have a 21-foot cuddy cabin and we love to fish for flounder and bluefish. I spent summers at the shore and want my kids to have that same experience.”
  • AB: “We’re going to have a relaxing day at the house, probably grilling. My parents will come over and I’ll make my own burgers.”

Thank you, Rick, Jeffrey, Terry and Adam, for sharing your advice and thoughts on fatherhood. You are all great examples of working fathers, and we hope you feel supported and appreciated at work and home. This month, we’re honoring all our employee dads and everyone who plays this paternal role in our families and society. Happy Father’s Day!