High-Voltage Hero

Feb. 1, 2009
Lloyd Morgan of Morpac Industries does not believe in retirement. While most people spend their careers planning and saving for the day they no longer have to work, the 90-year-old electrical engineer still treks to the office five days a week.

Lloyd Morgan does not Believe in Retirement. While most people spend their careers planning and saving for the day they no longer have to work, the 90-year-old electrical engineer still treks to the office five days a week.

“I come to work as a matter of good discipline for the shop,” Morgan said. “Monday through Friday, I arrive at 7:30 a.m. and stay until around 10:30 a.m. or 11 a.m. The shop is only about 15 miles from my house.”

The “shop” is Morpac Industries, a Pacific, Washington, U.S.-based custom manufacturer of specialized equipment for the electric utility and electric valve actuator markets. Morgan founded the company — then known as Morgan Power Apparatus — back in 1956.

Although the business has endured for more than 50 years and his career has spanned nearly six decades, Morgan, who was born in Spokane, Washington, and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, originally did not intend to become an electrical engineer. “I wanted to be a mining engineer,” he recalled. “I graduated from high school at the age of 14 and received a scholarship to the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado, U.S. It was a very good scholarship. I went to college for $20 a month.”

Like many young men of his era, the outbreak of World War II meant the postponement of Morgan's career. He served as the skipper of a landing infantry craft in the Royal Canadian Navy for six years. After the war ended, so did Morgan's aspiration to work as a mining engineer.

“Mining meant I would have had to live overseas, and that no longer interested me,” he said. “I decided to take a second degree in electrical engineering from McGill University in Montreal.”

However, after graduating, Morgan discovered that earning a living as an electrical engineer in Canada was easier said than done. In 1950, he packed his belongings and headed south to the United States, where he immediately found work in Seattle, Washington, at places such as Seattle City Lighting, Puget Sound Power & Light and Boeing.

“Nine months later, the president of the BC Electric Co. (now BC Hydro) called my family and wanted to know where I was and what I was doing,” Morgan remembered. “BC Electric was having trouble with a bundle conductor job on the North Shore of Harrison Lake going to Bridge River in British Columbia. I went up there, took a look at the job and knew exactly what I would do. With the company's permission, I bought a big logging winch, cut it in half and spread it so it would carry more wire. We put that on the job, and there was no more trouble. This was the first bundle job in North America.”

His next big project involved stringing line at Churchill Falls near Montreal. According to Morgan, this was the first 825-kV line in North America, and it was nearly 2000 miles long.

“From then on, I went after the big jobs,” said Morgan. “We cut the jobs so much in price and in time, I could go almost any place I wanted. I believe at one time we were stringing almost 60% of all the wire strung at 500 kV and above in the United States and Canada.”

Over the last five decades, Morgan's company has supplied equipment worldwide. In addition to line-stringing equipment and tools, Morpac manufactures actuators, heavy-duty off-road crawlers, switches and a nutating magnetic motor that has been packaged as an electric valve actuator for numerous navy vessels, commercial ships, nuclear plants and water treatment facilities.

When asked why he thinks his company has been so successful for so long, Morgan doesn't hesitate to answer. “The company survives on a small amount of business, but it is a big part of the big business. Also, I have always tried to focus my energy on running the company instead of making money. When I started in this industry, most of the utility CEOs were former linemen. Then this changed. The people in charge now do not control the business from a mechanical standpoint but from a financial point of view. At some future time, I expect the transmission of power will be nationalized around the country.”

Despite Morgan's many professional achievements, he says his proudest accomplishment is his family, which consists of his wife, five children and 12 grandchildren. In fact, two of his daughters as well as his son help run the company.

When he isn't overseeing operations at Morpac, Morgan enjoys flower gardening at his house on Puget Sound. However, he admits he needs more help tending to the large lawn than he did in the past. “I do more looking than actual gardening these days,” he said. “But I still get outside every so often and get my hands dirty.”

When it comes to the future, Morgan says he tries not to be overly ambitious.

“I suppose I'll slide off into the sunset one of these days,” he laughed. “Until that happens, I'd just like to see the company and my family continue to do well.”

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