Posted April 1, 2015
Back in mid-February, as I considered how to express our appreciation for their efforts, some of our linemen were in the Upstate helping a sister co-op, Laurens Electric Cooperative, restore service after a winter storm. Most of our linemen stayed behind, quietly handling their day-to-day tasks, but many probably wished they could be in Laurens.
That is the nature of linemen: If there’s an outage, they go into overdrive. They want to get the power back on as quickly as possible. It’s been a trait of co-op linemen from the beginnings of our cooperative three-quarters of a century ago.
Today, we equip our linemen better, not only with better gear but also with better training and safety procedures. The safety focus is important because, if you let them, linemen will work non-stop. You have to tell these guys to go home for breaks because they literally would work until they could not walk or stand up.
A heritage of service
Lineworkers embody the heritage of service that defines electric co-ops. I know this personally because, as I mentioned in my first column as CEO, my father, Archie Davis, was one of Palmetto Electric’s early linemen. Growing up, I knew that when a big storm hit, he was going to be gone. I recall him working for days on end, getting the lights back on.
I was proud to follow in his boot steps. I’ve always felt I started working at the co-op when I was old enough to answer the phone. In those days, co-ops didn’t have dispatchers; they published linemen’s numbers in the phone book. I can remember taking calls from members who lived in areas that seemed like faraway lands. To me, as a kid, that could have been another country. I’d take the information to give to my father or get him to come to the phone.
In my teens, I took a summer job with a contract utility company that worked for Palmetto Electric, venturing into these “faraway” lands and experiencing first-hand what linemen deal with daily. My first day out — it was late June or early July — I was hit hard by heat exhaustion. I returned to work the next day and never had a problem again but the experience and respect have stayed with me.
The desire to help
Today, linemen’s training, skills and safety procedures are so much better but what has not changed is the lineman’s desire to help people, their desire to make life better for their neighbors in their community. It’s just as strong today as it was back in my father’s time.
John F. Kennedy once said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” Our linemen live by their dedication to serving you, the members of Palmetto Electric, every day.
We hope you’ll express your appreciation to them as we celebrate Palmetto Electric’s 75th Anniversary at the 2015 Annual Meeting May 2. On behalf of the linemen, and all co-op employees past and present, thank you for allowing us to serve you for 75 years.