Written by The Business Journal Staff
Chief Administrative Officer
Education: I have a Bachelor’s degree from Fresno State. Go Bulldogs!
Family: I have two sons, Cole 18 and Evan 14.
WHAT I DO: I am the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) for Madera County. I report to the five-member elected Board of Supervisors and am responsible for oversight of the daily operations of the county and for managing the county budget. We have roughly 1,500 employees and a $317 million annual budget. We deliver a wide variety of health and safety services, construct and manage road systems, manage water and sewer systems, conduct elections, deliver library services, help stray animals, facilitate and regulate all types of building development projects, provide services to veterans and seniors, provide assistance to the ag community and much more.
Tell us a little about your career to your current position.
I learned a lot from the entrepreneurship program while at Fresno State. During that time I also began an internship with Walgreens Corp. where I ended up in their executive management-training program and managed stores for a few years. The entrepreneurial spirit helped me start and operate a commercial painting company for several years before selling it. I started my public sector experience with Fresno County back in 1999 and set my sights early on becoming a CAO. Since then I have been very fortunate to be in the right place at the right time. My big break came in 2005 when Stell Manfredi, longtime Madera County CAO, hired me as his assistant CAO. I became CAO in 2010 following Stell’s retirement.
You’ve been in your position for eight years now. What have been the highlights and challenges of that period?
The biggest challenge I’ve faced so far was the economic downturn of 2008. We had a $12 million annual budget deficit. We brought in an independent management consultant to make recommendations for reorganization and cost cutting measures. The Board supported a major reorganization and adopted a strict 3-year plan to regain fiscal stability. We succeeded and have been doing very well financially ever since. We now have a healthy reserve and are prepared for the next economic downturn.
What’s in the future for Madera County?
The future is definitely bright for the county. Our housing is doing very well in all areas but more specifically with the opening of the award winning Riverstone and Tesoro Viejo communities along Highway 41. Our agriculture industry continues to grow at a steady and strong pace. There are some unknowns with the looming state-enforced Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, but our ag community is pulling together and working well on a plan to address our water challenges.
From an economic development standpoint, how is Madera County faring?
Very well! We are investing a lot of time and resources into developing our economy. We have an internal economic development team within our organization which works closely with the county’s independent economic development commission. This team meets at the front end of most new development projects and helps the developers through the process. In addition to our booming residential development, we are attracting businesses and new jobs. Community Medical Centers will be building their next medical complex in Madera County near our biggest employer, Valley Children’s Hospital, which will bring hundreds of new jobs and create a regional medical hub. Our Board recently approved an innovative tax sharing agreement to incentivize the development of a new $20 million, state-of-the-art Corporate Training & Team Building Complex in Oakhurst. This project can support up to 500 people in a session and is expected to bring a variety of new jobs and many ancillary benefits to the surrounding area.
What was the best advice you ever received?
It’s a tie between advice from my Dad Doug Fleming about the importance of working hard, and advice from my Grandpa CJ Fleming to stay in school and get a college degree. I took both pieces of advice and this combination has definitely opened up opportunities that I would not have had otherwise.
What was your very first job and what did you learn from it?
My first job was tying grapevines for my Grandpa Fleming on his vineyard in Kingsburg. At the time I didn’t know it, but he very strategically instilled in me a good work ethic and would walk along with me encouraging me to stay in school.
What are your roots in the Central Valley?
I’m proud to say that I have been here all of my life. I was born in Kingsburg, spent my elementary years in Auberry, high school years in Reedley at Immanuel High School and have lived in Fresno ever since.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I enjoy spending time with friends and family. I appreciate good food and drink. I enjoy all types of music. I also like to travel, play golf, ride motorcycles and have a good time.