Meet Duck River Electric’s Manchester team that serves both the city of Manchester and Coffee County. Located between the large cities of Chattanooga and Nashville and accessible along Interstate 24, the area supports a large electric load for businesses and industries as compared to other communities served by DREMC.
Manchester’s revitalized town square, Old Stone Fort State Park, and Rutledge Falls draw sightseers and tourists about as often as the community’s local restaurant faves and the Bonnaroo event in June. Aside from the city scene are the rural county areas with interesting names such as Hoodoo, Noah, Pocahontas, and Possum Paw.
Leading the team is Ben McTier, senior director of Manchester operations. McTier is a Georgia native who moved to middle Tennessee in 2019, and in 2020, he brought his previous experience in tree trimming and right-of-way maintenance to the DREMC right-of-way program. For more than a year, McTier has worked with the Manchester team.
“Manchester and Coffee County offer a dynamic environment that includes small ‘mom and pop’ stores and restaurants plus three industrial parks where manufacturing operations create anything from automotive parts to special blend coffee,” said McTier. “I couldn’t ask for a better team than the Manchester office to work with. Their leadership is incredible to see in action.”
Office Manager Gaby West has been at DREMC since 2011. “Because we serve the city and county, we see a steady flow of members, which allows us the opportunity to deliver a more personalized DREMC experience,” she shares.
Natasha Edde, the district engineer, has worked at DREMC for 25 years, beginning as a draftsman and drawing electric services by hand at the Shelbyville headquarters office. For a bit of trivia, she is the cooperative’s first female to fill the roles of draftsman, field engineer, and now the district engineer.
“The engineering process has changed so much over the years,” Edde said. “Everything is now digitized. What we once drew on paper maps is now accessible using desktops, laptops and iPads. Digital technology has greatly improved our work and allows us better track residential and commercial growth in our community, especially when subdivision developers, for example, are building 80 to 200 new homes in our area.”
Operations Supervisor Patrick Hunt helps plan and schedule new construction and system maintenance for the Manchester line crews while coordinating the efforts with builders and electricians. Hunt began his career at DREMC as an apprentice lineman in 2008. In 2021, he filled his current role following the death of his friend and fellow employee, Tim Lusk, who previously held the same position.
“I was in the line crew that Tim supervised for several years,” said Hunt. “I learned a lot from him over the years, but I’m still learning all that goes along with the operations supervisor role. I am honored to help continue Tim’s legacy and work ethic at Duck River.”
“We’re like one big, ole’ family,” said Josh Sullivan, a senior lineman who has been at DREMC since 2004. “When you like the guys you work with, it makes the day go faster.”
Working Foreman Cody Pittman has been at DREMC for 22 years and shares that the overall system improvements and reliability make a difference in their daily tasks. “The technology we use today in the trucks and at the job sites makes our work safer and more efficient,” he said. “During outages, we use the outage information available on an iPad to help us quickly pinpoint the areas affected and see how the lines run, which is important when working to restore power.”
Wesley Thomas, apprentice lineman at DREMC since 2019, chose his career because he enjoys working outdoors. He smiled and added, “It’s much better than being behind a desk.”
“I like the fact that being a lineman is a trade that you can take anywhere in the country, and the work is basically the same,” shares Eric Burton, a lineman with 24 total years of experience in the trade. “The electric industry creates and delivers a product that is always needed. That’s one of the rewarding parts of this job.”