Mount Horeb Utilities
Born on a farm in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin.
Married to Debbie, his high school sweetheart; they have three children — Nathaniel, Nedeen and Nicole — and four grandchildren — Molly, Jacob, Griffin and Garrett.
Enjoys spending time with his family and golfing.
Describes himself as dedicated, a hard worker, and a considerate, appreciative and helpful person.
His favorite boss is his superintendent, Dave Herfel, whom he has worked with for 34 years, because he talks things over with his crew, is flexible about working with his team and sends the linemen to continuing education classes for regular training.
His most important tools are his mind and body, because linemen need a sharp mind and a strong body to be able to do the job. Also, he relies on his safety manual and his bucket truck.
When I was 23 years old, I applied for a job at Mount Horeb Utilities as a lineman. One of my first projects was to redo the main street in our town. We laid underground piping for streetlighting. As a new lineman without any experience, I was responsible for shoveling dirt and pulling the wires for the streetlights.
Thirty-four years later, I now work as an electric foreman. I'm part of a small four-person crew consisting of myself, Chris Hook, Gerry Rick and Richard Laufenberg. We all work together, and we depend on each other to watch each other's back as far as safety and helping each other out.
Day in the Life
My crew starts work at 7 a.m., and this time of year, like other utilities, we are doing tree trimming. Each morning we plan where we are going and decide whether or not we will need a chipper to remove brush or overhead trees. I often go ahead of my crew to inform customers of the work we plan to do.
We also perform locating services for underground cables, maintain our overhead lines, set transformers and fix streetlights. Because we are a small utility with a small crew, we also have to read meters once a month and even fix water mains occasionally.
In the Spotlight
In 2009, I won the Outstanding Lineman of the Year award from the Municipal Electrical Utility of Wisconsin. About 82 utilities operate in the state of Wisconsin, and they are all eligible for the award, so it was a special honor to be selected. The award is based on a lineman's service to the community. For example, I volunteer for the fire and EMS departments. I also won the Friend of Youth Award for coaching youth football for the past 16 years.
Teaching the Younger Generation
Working with kids is one of my favorite parts of my job. Every year our company participates in a Career on Wheels Day. We take our truck over to the local elementary school, lay out our tools and teach the students about line work. The kids like to watch me go up in a bucket, and they enjoy handling the hot sticks and trying on the rubber gloves.
During my career, I've had a few close calls. For example, during one incident, I laid down to place a cap on a bushing on a transformer in a vault. It was at nighttime, and thankfully, I was wearing all of my safety equipment when the transformer exploded. The impact from the blast blew me right over the top of a 4-ft fence. I didn't land anywhere close to the hole. It knocked the power out, and we had to restore electricity again, but no one got hurt. It was very scary.
One storm I'll never forget was the 1984 Barneveld tornado. We were called in to help a small utility north of town to rebuild the lines taken down by the tornado. That was the first time I have ever had to deal with a storm of that magnitude. It was devastating to see the damage and destruction it did to properties and homes. In some cases, where we had to rebuild lines, we didn't have anything to hook it up to because the homes were gone. Sometimes we would only see the basement of a building remaining. Power poles were snapped off, and lines were entwined in the trees and brush. Some of the roads were also impassable. At that time, I realized how lucky I was that my family was safe at home, while these residents had lost everything they had.