Randy Zalesky

April 1, 2012
Xcel Energy
  • Born in Sidney, Nebraska.

  • Married to Tina for 15 years and has a 13-year-old son, Sam.

  • Enjoys golfing, fishing, doing outside activities and spending time with his family.

  • His favorite boss is his current supervisor, Dave Clark at Xcel Energy in Boulder, Colorado. Dave was a lineman at one time, and as long as he does his job, he treats him like gold.

  • Can't live without his rubber gloves, hard hat, safety glasses and hot sticks.

  • Describes himself as hard working, very safe and outgoing. His coworkers call him “The Governor,” because he likes people and knows just about everyone.

Xcel Energy's Randy Zalesky replaces a pole that was broken during a recent storm.

Early Years

When I was a little kid, I saw linemen climbing poles, and I decided that I wanted to pursue line work for a living. In 1973, I had the opportunity to work as a ground apprentice for Highland Electric Cooperative in Sterling, Colorado. In this position, I framed and set poles, performed overhead work and did a lot of climbing.

After three years, I went to work for Intermountain Rural Electric in Sedalia, Colorado. I worked for the company for six years before making journeyman in 1979. In 1983, I began working for Longmont Power and Communications in Longmont, Colorado. I served as a lineman until 1994, and then I was promoted to foreman and eventually to crew leader. I worked for that company for 26 years before I retired.

My wife told me that I couldn't retire before her, so I then went to work for Xcel Energy in 2008 as a journeyman lineman, and I've been with the company ever since.

Day in the Life

My work day starts at 7 a.m. at the Boulder service center. During an informational meeting, my three-man crew gets orders to do service upgrades, pole changes or underground splicing for cable repairs. During our workday, we serve the mountains, hills and plains within Xcel's service territory.

One of my favorite things about working as a lineman for Xcel Energy is that every day is different. For example, right now, we are replacing some 1950s-era wood poles that were broken in 80-mph to 90-mph winds.

While I've done a lot of interesting projects for Xcel over the last few years, one of my most memorable jobs was back in 2010. My crew built a double-circuit 795 wire and dedicated feeder circuit for the University of Colorado in Boulder. It was a lot of hard work, but because it was team effort, it went together really well. We were on the project for three or four months, and we reframed the poles, strung large wires and energized a circuit.

Safety Lesson

When I worked for the Rural Electric Association, we had a tailboard before starting our work for the day. During this meeting, we were instructed to stay out of the primary. Unfortunately, one of our coworkers got into the primary, was burned, and then fell off the 40-ft pole and on to a chain link fence. We performed CPR and he survived, but he had to go through a lot of rehabilitation due to a brain injury.

After that accident, I learned the importance of never taking shortcuts. You always have tomorrow to do the job. Also, when you're a lineman, you can't bring any of your troubles from home to the job site. You need to keep your mind on the job, and if something doesn't feel right, then you just shouldn't do it. There's no looking back if you have an accident.

Memorable Storm

A storm that I'll never forget was a tornado in Windsor, Colorado. All the crews came in from Denver, Colorado. When we arrived, we would see one house standing and another one down on the ground. It was incredible that there weren't any fatalities. There were a lot of distribution lines down, and it took a team effort to get everything back up in the air. We were there for 10 days.

Challenges and Rewards

I think the biggest reward of being a lineman is working with great coworkers and trying to learn something new every day. In my opinion, the most challenging aspect of this job is working in 80-mph winds. It's tough to get our customers back on when we have the large feeder poles down.

Plans for the Future

If I had a choice, I would definitely go into the power industry all over again. I wouldn't change a thing about my career choice. It's rewarding to get people's lights back on. As long as I stay healthy, I want to retire at 65, stay in touch with the trade, and then maybe work for an inspection company for utilities.

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