Nick “Check Stub” Cummins is shown working on the line with his father, David “Check Check” Cummins.

Lineworker Focus: Nick Cummins

April 12, 2024
Nick Cummins, a son of a lineworker, has spent the last two decades in the line trade.

I.B. Abel, Inc

  • Born in Beckley, West Virginia, and has a sister, Melody.
  • Married to Rachell for 17 years and they have four children: Ryan (13); Jaxson (8); Logan (5); and Emmalyn (3).
  • Enjoys weight training, being outdoors, hunting, fishing, and spending time with his family. 
  •  Inspired by his father and the contributions he has made to the line trade. While he and his dad traveled to chase highline work, his mom and wife were both very supportive, packing bags, making lunches and greeting them when they returned home.
  • Has a passion for travel and enjoys sharing his experiences, work methods and techniques for stringing wire, working with a helicopter, or doing barehand and energized work with his crews.

Early Years

 My dad, who went by the nickname, “Check Check,” inspired me to pursue a career in line work. He just retired after working in the field for 42 years. I remember having an interest in the trade from a very young age. I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps, and he told me he would get me into the trade under one condition—I had to serve as a groundman for a year. He explained that there’s important work on the ground, and this work would make me a better lineworker. After fulfilling his expectations, I was able to join him on the line.  I worked in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Wisconsin, Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts with my dad when he was a lineworker.  

Day in the Life

As a superintendent for I.B. Abel, Inc., I travel across the country to do transmission line work. Each day varies as a superintendent. I could have my plan set for the day, and then an emergency pops up, and it completely changes it. To mitigate my stress level and focus on my health and wellness, I get up at 3 a.m. and go weight train for two hours. I then commute into work and start my day with the crew at 7 a.m. No matter where I am in the country, I stick to this regimen. I then conduct a morning safety meeting, and we perform our flex and stretch. From that moment on, I contact my customer to see if they have any direct needs for the day and reach out to the other general foremen on other projects. It’s a very demanding never-ending role, but I do enjoy it. 

Memorable Storm

Lineworkers are always on call, whether it’s ice storms or hurricanes. I remember poles being relocated miles downstream during one of the storms I’ve worked on. My most memorable storm, however, happened when I was an apprentice and about to top out. We got dispatched to New Hampshire for an ice storm and got hammered with a blizzard. I remember driving down a road, and a lady came out of her front door, ran down the sidewalk and stopped my bucket truck. She had one question: will I have the lights on for my Christmas dinner tonight? I explained that we were doing everything that we could, and we went back to work. When we were driving back to the main road, I looked over, and we saw her lights on, and everyone was seated around the table, and she was standing serving them. 

Unforgettable Experience

In Hartford Connecticut, I worked on a barehand crew to replace hotspot sleeves, dead end bodies and jumper paddles with implosive connectors on the energized 345 KV line. It was a record-breaking project because the implosive sleeves had never been test fitted or used for this size wire before and under these energized conditions. That alone had its challenges and obstacles, but we were very successful. When you’re doing barehanding or any kind of live line work, you must prepare yourself mentally and physically for that exposure and be very experienced. It’s a privilege to be able to barehand. 

Safety Moment

Safety, in my opinion, is just paramount. There's nothing else in this industry that holds a higher value. You need to start and end each day with safety and focus on it throughout the day. If you’ve been in the industry long enough, you’re going to see or hear something bad that has happened. If we let our guard down, we are vulnerable, but everyone is responsible for his or her own safety and of those around us. To help influence others and to change the culture of safety, I became a certified utility safety professional. I’d like to continue my learning so I can be educated about the risks on the line and how to mitigate them. 

Leading a Line Crew

When I worked a summer storm early on in my career, I had my first opportunity to work as a foreman. At that time, I didn’t see leadership in my future, but I had experience conducting tailboards, talking to the customers, coordinating flaggers, and staging materials and equipment. Everything went really well, and I continued to grow my leadership role and take on larger and larger jobs. From there, I led multiple crews and did all the bid work for single-phase, three-phase distribution. I can still appreciate that moment in my career when I was trusted with a leadership role. 

Future Plans

I don’t see myself doing anything different from a career’s perspective. In the future, I’d like to continue my career, my growth, and my development. I do want to become better educated to improve my team and grow on the transmission side and be able to help other departments like distribution, substation, and communications. 



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