George Gurule

Nov. 1, 2012
Xcel Energy
  • Born in Denver, Colorado.

  • Married to his wife, Loretta, for 25 years, and has two sons, George and Adam, and a granddaughter named Denise.

  • Proud that his sons have followed in his footsteps into the industry and are working for Xcel Energy and Sturgeon Electric.

  • Enjoys hunting, fishing, working out and playing softball.

  • Inspired by his faith and his family.

  • Describes himself as someone in a good mood who likes to have fun and enjoys his job.

  • Appreciates his mentors, Paul Lopez and Mark Rhodes, who have helped him out a lot during his career.

Early Years

My first job was as a production manager for 17 years for NER Data Systems. I managed a group of 40 people making printer and toners for IBM and Leximark printers and typewriters. All the jobs were being outsourced, so one of my friends suggested that I work for Xcel Energy. I was 35 at the time, and I felt like I was still young enough to do the work.

My first job was as a utility worker, and I specialized in installing gas pipes and underground primary and secondary wires. I began working for the company in 2001 and then topped out as a journeyman in 2009.

Day in the Life

My day starts at 7 a.m. and ends at 3:30 p.m., but I work a lot of overtime. In the summer, I average 20 to 35 hours of overtime during a pay period. Though I'm always on call, I don't always have to accept the work. For example, one weekend, I got called at 1 a.m. on a Saturday and at 2 a.m. on a Sunday.

On a typical day, I receive my job assignment and then work to take overloaded transformers off-line and install new ones. I also install new poles and perform maintenance on the lines.

Essential Tools

The system is always changing and progressing, and although it may look the same, there's always something new coming out. You have to keep abreast of the new technology. The big thing about what we do is it's an evolving trade and it's never stagnant. You learn every day. Journeymen need to into tap the minds of the apprentices to find out what they are learning, because they are so far ahead of us when it comes to new technology.

As a lineman, one of the biggest advances has been using the hand crimpers and hand tools. In the past, linemen used to wear out their shoulders and tear their rotator cuffs with manual tools. The battery-operated tools, however, allow us to do our job quicker with less wear and tear on the body. Tools like the Button Squeezers and Robo Cutters make life a lot easier.

Life as a Lineman

As a journeyman, it's a great feeling to walk into a situation, recognize there are things that are not right and then be on the crew that helps to put everything back together. I get a lot of satisfaction from knowing that I accomplished something safely and effectively. When you're a lineman, you don't work as an individual but as a group. As a team, you can help to get things done.

Safety Lesson

While I have not had an accident, I've seen a few coworkers get injured. For example, one lineman did everything right in terms of safety practices, but he still got second- to third-degree burns from his neck up. Another lineman dropped 50 ft when a pole he was working on broke. As a result, he broke his back and was paralyzed.

I've learned that safety is always a learning process, and you shouldn't take anything for granted. Even if you do the same type of job 10 different times, you still need to be aware of any safety issues and try to learn as much as you can. Safety is always evolving in the utility industry.

Memorable Storm

I'll never forget when I was working up in the Evergreens, and we were at the top of the mountain. The snow was coming down, and I could look into the valley and see the flashes from the electricity. The transformers were blowing their fuses, and as the line was coming down, it was causing the sparks.

Future Plans

I've never regretted my decision to work as a lineman. If I could have done it when I was 18, I would have done it. I'll never be rich, but I love what I'm doing. The people I work with are great, and I enjoy going to work every day.

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