ESMO 2019: Q&A With Walter Ahlisch of W.A. Goods Co. Ltd

Dec. 4, 2018
Walter Ahlish is coordinating a panel for ESMO 2019 called Grounding and Personal Protection.

Registration is now open for ESMO 2019, the premier event for electric utility professionals, contracting, construction and consulting companies who are interested in the hands-on solutions for the engineering, construction, operation and maintenance of the world’s power delivery systems.

The following is a Q&A with Walter Ahlisch of W.A. Goods, who is coordinating a panel on grounding for personal protection at the event

Q: Talk about your education and background. '

A: I am college educated, and I began my career as a pattern maker with a small firm that specialized in patterns, molds and prototype designs.  For 12 years, I worked with the main shareholder designing and manufacturing patterns, molds and prototypes for the oil, gas and agricultural industries. Upon the owner’s retirement, I proceeded to purchase all of the equipment and struck out on my own and built a new business with new clientele with different needs and concepts. During this time, I was approached by a gentleman by the name of Alan Dane, P.E., who had a concept for a Suspension Clamp, which allowed the conductor to rotate. Alan had the concept, but not the design skills, so we worked together to engineer a new clamp. Thus began my foray into the electrical field and all of its complexities.

Q: How did you get interested in a career in the energy industry? 

A: Electricity has always fascinated me. Because it is a necessity of life for industry and commerce, I felt safe in its need for growth, development and the need for new designs and product. After attending ESMO and numerous IEEE shows,  I volunteered to participate on the ESMO planning committee and to continue my education in this field.

Q:  What are your favorite and most challenging parts of your job right now? 

A: I am fascinated with my job and all its complexities and, being the person I am, look forward to every day’s new challenges--whether they are personnel-related or involve mechanical difficulties. I also like celebrating successes.

I truly enjoy the interface with customers.  The interaction is fascinating because it brings out the best in both parties. It requires problem-solving together, answering questions and fine-tuning the ability to really listen to each another. Working with the electrical community has proven to be very satisfying. They are always ready to support each other and create a sense of community.

Q: What is the working title for your session? What can attendees expect to learn about the topic? 

A:  The title of the session is "Grounding for Personal Protection." Attendees can expect to learn about the latest products that are available and the problems the industry is trying to solve. Safety and the protection of all personnel is our greatest concern. Lives are irreplaceable, and at the end of the day, we want to ensure that everyone returns home the same way they left in the morning. Our motto is: "The best is just good enough."

Q: Who are the panelists, and what criteria are you using to select them?

A: The panelists will be Gary Zevenbergen, electrical engineer, Western Area Power Administration (WAPA), and Ed Hunt from WAPA.

The criteria used is two-fold, we wanted the session to focus not only on problems that the industry is facing but also what is being done to remedy the situation. These two gentlemen are well known in their field and are willing to impart their wisdom to others.

Q: Why is this topic important to the industry? 

A: Even with the continued automation of the world and the industry growing, we find that the most difficult tasks still require a hands-on interface. We would like to show to the consumer, existing and potential employees that all is being done to create a safe environment and conscientious industry.

Q:  What will be different or special about your session? 

A: The vast knowledge of the presenters should have all participants excited to attend, Ahlisch says. In addition, Zevenbergen says the presentation will include latest developments and identify some concerns in the industry and what needs to be improved.

Q: What goes into planning a session for ESMO?

A: The planning for ESMO is multifaceted with the main organizers. We must make a call for volunteers, search for participants and expand personal knowledge on the specific topic. Numerous conference calls are held and in-person meetings requiring travel and time, which is always in short supply. The rewards are great in being a part of something bigger that many people will enjoy and will walk away with a greater knowledge base.

Q: Why should people attend ESMO and your session? Who do you think would benefit?

A: The special aspect of our session is that it will apply to all members in the industry from the hands-on, front-line people all the way to the designers of transmission systems and CEOs.

Safety is the most crucial element, and the industry cannot afford bad news, which always travels the fastest.

Also, a proper understanding of personal protective grounding is essential to safely work on de-energized transmission lines, according to Zevenbergen, one of my two panelists.

Q: What’s the most important thing you can impart to the readers, a teaser, if you will, for what they can expect to hear during your session at ESMO?  

 A: During the presentation, Zevenbergen and Hunt will discuss how grounding for personal protection requires more than installing ground cables at the work site.  Most electrical shock accidents have occurred with ground cables installed, and the presentation will tell the rest of the story. 

About the Author

Amy Fischbach | Amy Fischbach, EUO Contributing Editor

Amy Fischbach is the contributing editor for the Electric Utility Operations section of Transmission and Distribution World. She worked for Prism Business Media (now Penton) for eight years, most recently as the managing editor of Club Industry's Fitness Business Pro magazine. She is now working as a freelance writer and editor for B2B magazines. Amy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan.She serves as the national vice president of the American Society of Business Publication Editors. She can be reached at [email protected].

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