MEC’s tenured team reflects on the past
By Julia Garringer
Mohave Electric Cooperative (MEC) has been serving our members for 75 years, and we look forward to 75 more. As we approached this anniversary, our employees came up with the idea to freeze this moment in time with a first for us—a time capsule. Our auto shop workers, Shawn Walker and Brent Vinderslev, have designed the capsule from the ground up with only two directions: it must survive the elements underground for the next 25 years, and it must be big enough for MEC’s 83 employees and nine board members to contribute.
Sometimes to look towards the future, it is best to remember the past, so we asked our most tenured employees for their thoughts.
“A co-op is a unique place to work. As a member-owned utility, we really do our best for our members and the co-op takes care of its employees,” stated Ellen Brown, Community Liaison for MEC.
Ellen Brown has been with our cooperative for over 40 years and has worn many hats within our organization. File Clerk, Member Services Representative, and Consumer Accounting Manager are just a few of the jobs Ellen has performed at MEC. After 20 years as Consumer Accounting Manager, Ellen was promoted to her current position of Community Liaison.
When asked what Ellen would have put in the time capsule when she first started at MEC, Ellen said she would have chosen “a computer punch card to show the tremendous growth in technology. We had one mainframe that we fed ‘punch cards’ in to store data. No one had a computer on their desk! We would get one large printout each week of all the members and how much they owed, so when they came in to pay, we would look them up in the book to see how much they owed.”
Now employees just need simple identifying information to be able to search for member records on their computers in seconds. Times have changed at MEC but not just for those that work in our offices.
Area Supervisor of Bullhead City and Kingman, Don Champney, has been working in the field for MEC for 30 years. Don started with MEC in 1991 as a Warehouseman and worked that position until 2005. He then became the Substation Technician Apprentice and later served as a Substation Technician until 2009. Don moved up to Substation and Metering Supervisor before promoting to his current role as the Bullhead City and Kingman Area Supervisor.
Don says that he would have put a Transformer Turns Ratio (TTR) tester in the time capsule 30 years ago, “It would take literally a full day to test a Substation Transformer. The new one takes 30 minutes.”
Not only does this save our employees valuable time, but also means we can service our members quickly and efficiently. None of this would be possible without the loyalty of our people.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Technician, Gary Fiser, is yet another employee that witnessed the changing
times at MEC. Gary started at Mohave Electric 35 years ago as a Mapper, and then moved up to AutoCAD Supervisor before reaching his current position as the GIS Technician.
“I would have put an old ink pen and some mylar film we used to draw maps on in a time capsule when I first started,” states Gary. “All maps were produced using India ink and mylar film. It was very slow process and not 100% accurate. When copies needed to be made, we had to make blueprints for the outside crew or contractors. Copies had to be mailed out, since there was no email at the time.”
Bill Nielsen, MEC’s Energy Services Supervisor, started at Mohave Electric in 1984 as a staking technician before moving up to a Planning Technician. After a short hiatus from working for MEC, Bill returned as a Planning Coordinator and later became the first Certified Key Accounts Executive at Mohave Electric. Now, with the help of Energy Management Specialist Steve Bouman, Bill is responsible for planning and implementation of MEC’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Programs, as well as Arizona Corporation Commission compliance with each.
When asked what has changed the most in his time at Mohave Electric, Bill said “Technology has changed. What I appreciate the most, is what hasn’t changed… the cooperative difference. Everything we do is for the well-being of our members. You may not see it early on, but over the years, you see that it is the right way to do business.”
In our 100th year, MEC will look back to November 9, 2021, in wonder. Times will always create change, but the cooperative model stands strong. Computers will get faster and old equipment will become obsolete, but our employees will weather the storms of time. Because in 25 years when we open our time capsule, it is the people that we will remember. Mohave Electric Cooperative cheers to the future, but we will always cherish the past.