Above & Beyond: The Dedication of a Lineman
Photo: Cliff Stitcher working as a lineman (1994).
In times of crisis, we take the time to be thankful for healthcare professionals, government officials, law enforcement and many others who sacrifice their time, energy, and health for others. National Lineman Appreciation Day on Saturday, April 18th is a day to recognize our nation’s linemen who also have sacrificed so much to bring electricity to our homes, amidst rigorous weather conditions and even the global pandemic we are seeing today.
Gresco has several employees across multiple locations who are former linemen. Their experience and service in the field equipped them with the expertise in their various roles over the years at Gresco. Cliff Stitcher, Georgia Account Manager, talked to us about his previous experience as a lineman at Rayle EMC.
Cliff was a lineman for 18 years, starting at Rayle EMC on January 4th, 1988. He enjoyed working with a team to achieve a common goal and doing work that few would ever consider. As far as challenges, Cliff was on the “Hot Crew,” which is what some consider as one of the more difficult jobs where substations, double circuit conversions, and re-insulating responsibilities were the norm. And, of course, this was in addition to always being accountable for both your own safety and that of your coworker.
Cliff recalls the physical demands of being a lineman as well. Being out of shape was not an option as lifting and climbing were a large part of the job. Since his days as a lineman, tools and safety have significantly improved.
“Electric hand-powered tools have been a huge improvement over the manual hand tools we used and fall protection has reduced the risk of injury. Buck Squeezes would have been fabulous tools in my day of climbing 30’ thru 70’ poles,” he said.
For novices and upcoming linemen, Cliff advises to not rush training.
“It takes time to understand the risk involved and absorb the training information for your chosen career path. The most important thing for you to learn and understand about being a lineman is SAFETY FIRST, and that you and your co-workers go home at the end of the day, every day to your families,” he said.
Gresco would like to extend our deepest appreciation to our former linemen and all linemen and linewomen who are essential workers 24/7, 365 days a year. Your sacrifice makes an impact on the lives of so many, especially during this time. We thank you for all you do!
Recognizing Gresco’s Former Linemen
Jimmy Ash (FL Tool & Line Services Representative)
- 2 years at Red Simpson in Georgia
- 11 years at Jackson EMC in Georgia
- 3 years at Xcel Energy in Colorado
- 4 years at Florida Keys Electric Cooperative: 1 year on line crew and 3 as Safety Manager
Carl Blocker (MS Account Manager)
Over 32 years at Central EPA in Mississippi:
- Lineman for 6 years
- Serviceman for 2 years, then spent time in the engineering department and member services before finally becoming an Assistant Manager before retiring from Central EPA
Jason Chandler (GA Account Manager/Tool Specialist)
- 13 years in line construction, starting as a Groundman
- 11.5 years at Pike Electric: spent 10.5 of those years working at GreyStone Power in Douglasville, Georgia
- Finished career as a Foreman before pursuing Sales
Mark Dennis (Director, Solar & EV Solutions)
- 14 years at Little Ocmulgee EMC
- Line crew for 9 years, finally becoming a First Class Lineman before moving into Purchasing and also Safety Coordinator
Lee McLendon (GA Account Manager)
- 15 years at Diverse Power (formerly Troup EMC). Began in 1979.
Michael Reinbott (South Florida Tool & Line Representative)
- 8 years with Pike Electric as a Lineman
- 20 years with Lee County Electrical Co-op: 5 years as a Lead Lineman and remaining 15 years as Operations Supervisor over the line department
Cliff Stitcher (GA Account Manager)
- 18 years at Rayle EMC
- Began as an apprentice on the Hot Crew in 1988. Trained/studied in the TVPPA program and made Journeyman Lineman. Finished career as a Purchasing Agent and in Safety
- 3.5 years at Georgia EMC Safety as a trainer for the EMCs