For three years, Randy Grove has led Central Lincoln as our General Manager—he’ll be retiring at the end of this month. We interviewed him one last time.
How did you decide on a career in electricity?
By chance really. During my junior and senior years at Toledo High School (Go Boomers!) I spent some time learning how to build homes through the high school’s construction program. I was leaning toward a career in construction at the time, but in 1981, the economy was in a recession and there weren’t many opportunities. The second home I worked on at THS was a passive and active solar home. That project really sparked my interest in alternative energy.
After high school, I enrolled in Lane Community College’s Energy Management degree program. I soaked up everything I could working a paid summer internship at Central Lincoln. That helped pay for room and board while I was at LCC, and my experience here helped me ace my classes that last year of college! And that’s how I got started in the electric utility world.
Based on your work as an intern, Central Lincoln offered you a permanent job before you even graduated from college. You’ve worked your entire career at Central Lincoln. What jobs did you do before becoming General Manager?
I was hired at Central Lincoln as an Energy Management Consultant. I was involved with the residential weatherization program, commercial energy audits, and energy-efficient new home construction. A few years later, I had the opportunity to become a Customer Engineering Tech, where my role was to design overhead and underground distribution lines to serve our customers’ needs. This led to larger jobs like subdivision layout and large commercial services. I became a Systems Engineering Tech during the 90’s where I focused on transmission line design, main feeder rebuilds, fiber optic buildout, and right of way clearing.
I became the Northern Division Operations Supervisor in 2000, which in my opinion is the hottest seat in the house! I oversaw three line crews, service crews, tree crews, and the warehouse. This is where I really cut my teeth from a supervisor standpoint. I was also in charge of switching and operating our electric grid. Managing crews and winter storms was challenging—but also very rewarding.
In 2007, my role evolved into the Distribution Engineering and Operations Supervisor. I provided oversight to Customer Engineering Techs in addition to my Ops duties. Given my prior experience as a Tech, this was a good fit and worked out well.
My last position before becoming the General Manager was the Director of Engineering and Operations. After the retirement of our Chief Engineer, I was promoted to direct all of Engineering and Operations. It was a big job with many direct reports and it really prepared me for the next step. Wow! What a ride.
What’s one takeaway you share with people you’ve trained, or for that matter, with your two now-grown children?
You may not know everything about a position; don’t let that keep you from jumping in with both feet and applying yourself. You’ll figure the rest out as you go along. Also, “Just be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”
So, instead of that initial dream to build houses, you built power lines, electrical infrastructure and a workforce?
Yes—and I still love to build things. I’ll be doing that, as well as going fishing, traveling, biking, snow skiing and did I mention fishing?
I’m really proud of all the improvements we’ve made in my 36 years here—substation transmission, distribution feeders, fiber build outs, software, fleet etc.—we’ve really built a resilient system that our customers benefit from.
It’s been my life’s honor to have been part of Central Lincoln and to serve our customers. I have had the opportunity to work with so many great people! I’d like to acknowledge a few who were key to my success: My wife Darla, Paul Davies, Terry Vaughn, Sandy Boyd, Mike Wilson, Jack Perkins and our previous GM, Debra Smith. I will miss Central Lincoln and the staff here, but it’s time for me to see what the next chapter in my life brings.