A “Graduate” Reflects
As May blends with June, we see college graduation celebrations mingling with those of high school seniors. I, too, am graduating. This week I received a certificate that marked my graduation from Santee Cooper. The certificate marks three decades of time as a Santee Cooper employee. Like any student, I have learned so many valuable things and I will walk out the door a proud Santee Cooper alum, grateful for all the ways the people who make this company great have enriched my life.
I came on board in 1989, the year of Hugo and the great Christmas snow. What a christening that was. After almost total devastation, employees worked together to bring power back to the entire state after Hugo. I saw linemen working from boats and wearing hip waders to restore power after the terrible floods of Floyd (1999).
After the more recent, Hurricane Matthew (2016), I watched as we lost power to about 75 percent of our customer base. I listened as an employee, whose own home was being flooded, reassured a customer that we were indeed working to restore their power. We all cheered when we turned that devastation around, bringing power to all within about a week. Whether facing storms or any other adversity, Santee Cooper employees have always risen to the challenge and in doing so, have been making a difference for all South Carolinians for many decades.
I know that not just because it is in the history books, but because I saw a lot of it up close and personal. When I was born, my father was already a Santee Cooper employee and had been part of their history for years. He “graduated” from Santee Cooper in the 1980s after beginning his career with them in the 1950s.
That means I have had the privilege of being part of the Santee Cooper family for all of my life. I have seen the trucks and logos go from dark green and yellow to tan and brown and now white and green. As our colors and logo progressed over the years, so did the company and our culture. We had worked with and through growth explosion in the areas we serve, new environmental concerns and energy sources. We faced new government regulations, market crashes and other challenges along the way. But at the end of the day, on any given day, we all work together to continue to find solutions that allow us to meet the needs of our customers.
My dad began as a lineman for the company and ended up being the area manager for North Myrtle Beach. While he worked at the company, he also volunteered for the local police and fire departments, was involved in his church, his community and always tried to help customers in any way possible.
In my mind he daily provided an example of what a Santee Cooper employee should be. Those he worked with were family and he loved them and shared his personal family with theirs. Today I look back at my own years with this company and see that some of the best times of my life were made with co-workers who have become my family.
Today, like in the past, we still employ so many people who care about one another, look out for one another and work together to take care of those we serve. Santee Cooper employees are volunteer fire fighters, they coach Little League, they read to children, they raise money for charities. They do so much more than what is required as they give of their time and talents to help others in the communities where they live. I believe that makes a real difference and makes our company stronger.
As I become an alum, I tip my hat to my dad and all of those Santee Cooper grads who have gone before me. The foundation was solid when I came on board and I hope my contributions have added some strength to help support those who follow. Past or future, I believe we stand as one: one family, one group of talented individuals, giving it our all to make life better for ourselves, our families and for all who live in or visit the great state of South Carolina.