Not everyone gets to work in their dream job, but Steve Shade found persistence pays off. The 47-year-old Saranac resident spent years waiting for an opening at Lowell Light & Power before he was hired as a groundman/truck operator four years ago.
“I really wanted to work here,” Shade says. “It just looked like it was exciting work.”
However, it took 3 ½ years before the right position opened up, and his application was accepted. The fact that openings at the local utility are so few and far between is testament to the type of work environment found at LLP.
“You spend a good portion of your life at work,” Shade says. At LLP, he gets to work alongside a crew of committed co-workers and do a job that makes a meaningful difference in the lives of others.
Lineman on the Horizon
Prior to landing the position at LLP, Shade spent more than 20 years working as a landscaper. Now, as a groundman, he provides support to lineman who are working on electrical wires. That may include operating the truck or passing up necessary tools and equipment.
While Shade loves his current position, he has his sights set on something bigger. “I am definitely looking to move up,” he says.
At LLP, moving up means becoming a lineman apprentice. Working in the air on electrical wires isn’t easy, and the apprenticeship program takes four years to complete. The utility only has one apprentice at a time, but when a position opens up, Shade is hoping he’ll be eligible to fill the spot.
For now, though, he is content to do what he can to keep power consistently flowing to LLP customers. The utility’s system can detect an outage almost immediately, and a crew can usually have the lights back on within an hour although it may take longer after a damaging storm.
Shade was also part of a crew that assisted in Florida after Hurricane Irma hit in 2017. The experience gave him not only a chance to help people in need but learn some different work techniques. Still, the job was basically the same, whether in Michigan or Florida, although he adds, “It was definitely a lot hotter there
For Shade and his co-workers, helping wherever they can just comes naturally. “We try to do everything we can do to please [LLP ratepayers],” he says. “We appreciate having them as customers.”