Salt River Project
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Spotlight on the Line Trade: Gunner Hubbard of Salt River Project

March 4, 2018
Gunner Hubbard

• Born in Safford, Arizona.
• Married for seven years to his wife, Shawna, and has a son named Orion.
• Enjoys hunting, fishing and outdoor activities.
• Inspired by his wife, son and parents.
• Learned a lot during a critical point during his career from the first journeyman lineman he ever worked with, Jake Jacobson. Jake, who has since passed away, worked in the trade for more than 40 years and was very sharp.
• Can’t live without battery-operated tools, which are easier to use, save manpower and are not as hard on linemen’s bodies as manual tools.

Early Years
My dad worked as a welding foreman for Salt River Project (SRP), and I followed in his footsteps by also working for the utility. I started out as a groundman in 1997. After watching
the line crews work in the field, I decided I wanted to do line work. I’ve been doing it ever since.

Day in the Life
I now work as a foreman, and I manage two outstanding linemen, two apprentices and a groundman. During a typical work day, we inspect wood poles, tag them and replace them.
Many of the poles marked for replacement are 50 years old. While these poles are in terrible condition, they are not nearly as bad as some of the poles that I have seen in other parts of
the country. For example, when I worked in Houston following Hurricane Ike, the poles were so hollow that I could see my hooks go through them.

Safety Lesson
In 2011, when I was working for a New Mexico contractor, I fell off of a bucket truck. I wasn’t wearing fall protection. My bucket truck got tangled underneath the jib. As I was trying to untangle it, I slipped and fell and landed on my feet and crushed my right ankle. After that incident, I had a different perspective on safety.

Memorable Storm
After Hurricane Ike, so many trees were down that you couldn’t even see the power lines. I spent three weeks down there changing out distribution poles in backyards. I worked as a general foreman during that storm after another contractor crew had a bad accident. One of their linemen made contact and fell on a rod iron gate, and his foreman had to come back home.

Competing at the Rodeo
I am really proud of our team. We have been doing this for a long time now, and it was nice for all of our practice, experience and luck to come together to make it a great day. I’m also proud of our apprentices who worked hard and had an excellent showing. It goes to show what a good training program SRP has for training young linemen. We placed 14th out of more than 200 journeyman teams. To do so well at the rodeo, we had to practice all summer in Arizona. Many times, we got up at 3 a.m. on Saturday mornings or practiced after work. After working all day, we didn’t look forward to practice, but we were committed to our rodeo team.

Challenges and Rewards
We are challenged by having the eyes of the public on us all the time. We are the faces people see from SRP, and if they are upset with their electrical bill, we are the ones that they come
to talk to. At the same time, it is rewarding to go out and make repairs for people. It’s nice when people come and thank us. They realize we are doing the best job we can. Also, it is rewarding to me to have a good and happy crew with everyone getting along and able to go home at the end of each work day.

Plans for the Future
I can’t imagine doing anything else other than working as a lineman. The people in this trade are like minded, we get along well and it provides me with a good income and opportunity.
At SRP, I never feel like I am stuck in any one department. I can go to dispatch or troubleshooting, and if anything gets stale, I can move on.

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