Natural gas industry veteran Tom Skains praised BB&T Corp. on Wednesday for its success amid the current economic crisis as the financial firm elected him to its board of directors of directors.

Skains, 53, who has served as chairman and chief executive at Piedmont Natural Gas since 2003, noted BB&T’s performance in weathering the current U.S. financial storm. BB&T earned $1.5 billion in 2008.

Net income in 2008 at his own firm, Piedmont, was $110 million, with annual earnings since 2004 improving from $95.2 million.

He said he was “thrilled” to serve at a financial services company that has “continued to thrive in this down economy while holding true to their mission to do everything possible to help their clients achieve economic success and financial security.”

Skains brings “personal and business values” which closely align with the company,” BB&T Chairman John Allison said today. “He’ll be a tremendous asset for our corporate board of directors.”

Piedmont and BB&T are based respectively in Charlotte and Winston-Salem in North Carolina.