IBEW Local 145
- Born in Moline, Illinois, and now lives in Rock Island.
- Married to his wife, Kathleen, and they have three children: Eliza, 14; Lily, 12; and James, 10.
- Enjoys camping with his family in their fifth wheel, fishing and woodworking. He is building a new garage with space for a wood shop.
- Can’t live without his pliers and battery-operated tools, which save excess strain on his shoulders and wrists.
My dad owned an HVAC business and was a sheet metal worker so I always assumed that’s what I would do. After school, I bounced around to a lot of different jobs and never really enjoyed any of them. One thing or another came up and I never went to work for my dad. In the meantime, I got married and needed a better job to support my new family. My dad knew a few lineworkers and mentioned it might be a good fit for me. I didn’t know anyone in the trade, so I searched online and found that Local 145 represents the contract lineworkers in my area. It took a year-and-a-half to get the call. Honestly, I had forgotten I applied. When they called, I thought maybe one of my friends had put me down for a reference. I started at L.E. Myers on a distribution job. I worked for them for my entire apprenticeship and was fortunate to be close to home.
Day in the Life
Currently I’m on a distribution job in western Iowa working as a lineworker. I’ve worked in the Chicago area, central Illinois, central Iowa and New York. I took my family along to New York and we lived there in our camper for several months. It was an amazing experience.
Challenges and Rewards
One the biggest challenges our industry is facing currently is the perception that tasks can’t be performed quickly and safely. Shortcuts are never acceptable, and we need to eliminate that mindset. One of the things we try to instill in our apprentices is to trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel right or if you’re asking yourself “should I be doing this?,” the answer is almost always no. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It doesn’t make you stupid or less of a man to admit you don’t know something. Most importantly there are only two things you can never replace—your time and your life. Get the most out of both.
When I was working with a contractor, I attended a safety meeting. The company had experienced a fatality, and I was unaware that the lineworker who lost his life was good friends with one of the other guys in the meeting. Part way through, the contract lineworker broke down. As I watched some of the other guys come together to comfort him, I realized it isn’t just us that get hurt. It’s our families and friends. Every time I read about an incident this is confirmed for me. That’s one of the reasons I got involved with the apprenticeship. As an instructor for the apprenticeship’s Saturday school, I help members of our local get their crane certification. Going forward I will continue to encourage everyone in our industry to keep learning. Someone told me a long time ago that the end of your apprenticeship is really the beginning of your education. I think that’s very true. When you become a journeyman, you should have the basic tools you need to safely perform your job, but there is so much more to learn.
I restored power following a small local windstorm in Bettendorf, Iowa, right across the Mississippi River from my hometown. The neighborhood had been out for a couple days. The line that fed it ran through wooded rear lots. We’d been working in the heat for well over 16 hours. The entire neighborhood seemed to be out on the street, hanging out, drinking, grilling and just having a good time. Around dusk we finally got all the wire back up. As the apprentice, I got the task of throwing the fuse in. I got the extendo stick in the eye of the fuse door and as I sent it home, the lights in all the houses came on and the loudest cheer went up across that neighborhood.
I wish I would have started earlier. I genuinely enjoy what I do. Every day I help improve critical infrastructure. At the end of most days, I can look and see what I’ve helped build, a lot of which will out-live me. I’ve seen a lot of places and met a lot of people I never would have if it hadn’t been for the trade. I plan to keep doing my best to balance my work and home life and learning as much as I can to continue to help our trade improve.