Cooperative Employees Share Knowledge, Experience to Improve Industry
LIVINGSTON, March 25, 2015 - The electric cooperative industry is a unique place. When our organization exists solely to improve the lives of its member-owners, not to make a profit, the priorities are shifted to creating lean companies that work together to share knowledge to fulfill our goal of keeping energy prices low for our member-owners.
Operations supervisors Larry Horn, Mike Garess, and Mickey Cude serve on the advisory committee for Lamar Institute of Technology’s Utility Line Technician program, which prepares students to work in the powerline industry. Several other employees help advise coursework topics, as well.
“It helps keep focus for the industry and lets them know what’s needed,” Horn said. “It also helps beginning line technicians have a foundation [of knowledge].”
Currently, 20 Cooperative employees have graduated from the LIT program.
“We help [LIT] to understand some of the industry changes, so that the instructors can focus their training on what is coming,” Horn said.
Training and safety supervisor Scott Ferguson and safety and training inspector Ronnie Hindsman also share information with the Lamar Institute of Technology, as well as Cooperative employees. Their goal is to equip each person with knowledge to stay safe and return to their families after each workday.
Both participate in the National Utility Training & Safety Education Association to share their knowledge and gain new perspectives from fellow members from across the nation. Providing electrical service can be an iwncredibly dangerous task, which is why safety education is a focus at Sam Houston EC
“Everyone has the same challenges,” Ferguson said. “It is a good way to network with other safety professionals and see how they are addressing these issues.”
Ferguson, a Certified Loss Control Professional, met many others in the industry while completing this certification.
“I often work with Texas Electric Cooperative’s Loss Control group, and when I work with NUTSEA I am able to gain a nationwide perspective on issues,” Ferguson said.
Hindsman also shares his personal story with groups across the nation to urge listeners to be vigilant about their safety every day. Hindsman lost both of his arms in an accident at the Cooperative in 2004.
“It took me a little while to put this together,” Hindsman said. “I did not want to talk about it at first. I would visit with people about it, but then a person at TEC asked me to talk in a video about my accident. My first presentation was in 2010 at the TEC Loss Control Conference. There were 250-300 people at that first presentation.”
Hindsman has spoken at cooperatives and conferences in South Dakota, Oklahoma, Florida, and all across Texas.
“I let them know it was tough on my three families, and by that I mean my family, my wife’s family and my third family, the Cooperative,” Hindsman said. “I do these presentations to share with people out there what can happen. I do it to keep someone else from getting hurt.”
According to Hindsman, it took him some time to get used to talking in front of a group.
“I am glad Sam Houston EC is letting me do this,” Hindsman said. “I am helping a lot of young line technicians. It makes me feel good that I am trying to do something.”
From teaching future Cooperative employees how to work around electricity to ensuring current employees operate safely everyday, Sam Houston EC employees are helping countless people everyday. Read next month to learn about other employees that share their knowledge with other cooperatives.