Cox Communications announced longtime CEO Patrick Esser will retire at the end of 2021, with current EVP and Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Mark Greatrex set to lead the company following his exit.
Esser, who has led Cox Communications for the past 15 years, will step down on December 31. Rather than assuming Esser’s CEO title, however, Greatrex will lead the company as its new president.
A company representative told Fierce Greatrex's role will be similar to Esser's and pointed out the latter held the title of president for most of his career, with the CEO position only added in the last year and a half. Asked about Greatrex's forward-looking priorities, the representative said "he will be developing his plan over the next few months, but expect him to continue our growth momentum and he’ll bring a tremendous amount of personal energy and passion."
Alex Taylor, president and CEO of Cox Communications parent company Cox Enterprises, said in a statement it was "extremely thankful" for Esser's service and hailed Greatrex as a “great leader for the next chapter in Cox Communications’ evolution."
In a separate statement, Esser called Greatrex “a strong and visionary leader," adding his "energy, creativity and sharp strategic sensibilities will drive continued innovation, excellence and passion for our customers."
Greatrex joined Cox Communications in 2011, having previously held executive positions at Unilever, AOL and Coca-Cola. For the past decade he has overseen Cox Communications’ residential sales team and marketing, working alongside the company’s strategy, product, technology and customer experience units. The company said in a press release he has made an “indelible impact” over the years, helping it achieve “significant growth in broadband market share” through his efforts.
Cox Communications is the third largest cable provider in the U.S., with coverage spanning an 18-state footprint. The company boasts nearly 7 million business and residential customers and over $12 billion in annual revenue.
Outgoing CEO Esser originally joined Cox Communications in 1979 as director of programming, working his way up to VP of advertising sales in 1991 and VP of operations for Cox’s Western Division in 1999. He was named EVP and COO in 2004 before being appointed CEO in 2006.
Under Esser, Cox Communnications more than doubled the size of its business. Esser was also responsible for pushing the company’s product and network investments and pursuing new lines of growth through investments in and acquisitions of infrastructure companies, cloud services and home health logistics.
Notable recent activity includes the launch of Cox’s edge compute offering last month and the purchase of assets from private fiber company Segra for approximately $3 billion in April. It also acquired hybrid cloud service provider RapidScale in August 2018, managed network solutions company Blueprint RF in August 2017 and managed healthcare services company Trapollo in September 2015.
This story has been updated with information provided by a Cox Communications representative.