The Information Technology and Administrative Services Teams

Two departments that function behind the scenes to support the work of Duck River Electric are the information technology (IT) and administrative services teams.

DREMC’s IT team, Beau Campbell, James Trott, Matt Adams and Matt Sanders, plays a key role in ensuring that all technology used by employees is operational and secure. They handle the operations and security for all hardware, software and databases used by DREMC. This includes installing and maintaining PCs, servers, networks, databases, and communication systems used by all office and field personnel.

They are responsible for protecting sensitive data for both the organization and the members by detecting and responding to incidents as well as planning preventative measures, such as encryption and multi-factor authentication access. Their vigilance as DREMC’s cybersecurity team is vital in today’s high-tech society.

According to Beau Campbell, the IT team’s manager, DREMC is susceptible to receiving email attacks daily. “Our email filtering software scans every external email sent to the domain, which is approximately 50,000 emails per month, catching and blocking all potentially compromised or malicious attachments, which have averaged 12 per month,” he shares.

Campbell brings 21 years of experience to DREMC. Previously, he worked in the field of information technology at Arnold Air Force Base in Tullahoma as a duty civilian and a U.S. Department of Defense contractor.

Adams has spent 18 years at DREMC and says he was hired when the cooperative was beginning to migrate to using more technology. “IT was still a new concept in the workplace back then,” Adams said. “When I came to Duck River, we only had a few flip phones being used. We had a handful of laptops, but there were no iPads, the SCADA system was not installed yet, and we had no digital mapping system. Today, our department provides support services to all DREMC employees on various levels of technology.”

Trott came in 2013 as the third IT employee. Together, they integrated more technology and digital processes, including the major undertaking of relocating DREMC’s data center from one end of the headquarters facility to the System Operations Center in 2019. “Miles of new network cable were installed to support all of the communications and computer applications used today at Duck River, which also includes room for additional tech installations,” describes Trott.

The team worked together to interconnect the corporate LAN line devices (local area network) on the newly installed Duck River fiber plant to enhance the communications of all DREMC offices, electric substations, AMI collectors (advanced metering infrastructure), radio towers, SCADA systems (supervisory control and data acquisition), outage management system and more.

Sanders has been at DREMC for five years. After graduating college with expectations of working in the recording industry, he found an opportunity at Calsonic Kansei in Lewisburg and began focusing more on IT programming. He also gained knowledge in web and desktop software development utilizing Microsoft technologies, database development and administration, and SCADA application development. His ability to write custom programs for data retrieval and reporting is widely used across DREMC departments.

One of the most impactful processes that the IT team has assisted with is the DREMC “lockout/tag out” procedure that is used by line crews and system operators when opening and closing electric circuits for system maintenance or during outage restoration. “This integrated process aids in logging lockout/tag out orders and is an added step in keeping the crews safe while they work on power lines,” Sanders said.

Campbell adds that work done by the IT team covers all of DREMC. “Some used to ask why would a lineman and an IT employee ever cross paths,” he recalls. “Now we do. Every employee and every geographic area on our system is connected to what our team does on a daily basis.”

The administrative services team includes those who work in the areas of human resources, payroll, employee safety, communications and energy services for residential and commercial members.

The team is led by Elisabeth Thompson, who joined the DREMC team in Aug. 2020. She spent the previous eight years as the public information specialist and commercial and industrial account manager at Bryan Texas Utilities.

Thompson says that the role of administrative services focuses on the needs of both employees and members. The team includes two human resources (HR) generalists, Brandi Shore and Kayla Young; Jerica Keller, payroll specialist; two communications specialists, Connie Potts and Gina Warren; Pat Garrett, residential energy advisor; Shay Maupin, business programs specialist; and Brad Vincent, DREMC’s safety coordinator.

“The administrative services team is fortunate to work with each department to support the work they do for the membership and the DREMC team,” said Thompson.

Shore and Young work together as the human resources team and are responsible for employee recruitment, onboarding new employees, assisting with health and retirement benefit questions and supporting the DREMC management team with employment policies.

Shore moved from Texas where she worked for 13 years at an electric cooperative handling the payroll and HR duties. She came to Tennessee in 2020 to join the Duck River human resources team, and a year later, Young was hired as an HR generalist.

Young was previously employed in an administrative and HR role at a manufacturing facility for almost 12 years. She shares that her role in human resources gives her an opportunity to collaborate with DREMC on initiatives, culture, and vision, while also assisting employees throughout their careers. “We all work together to achieve one end goal, and that is a long and successful employment experience,” she said.

Shore said that the role of HR is ever-changing. “To stay relevant, we need to become more advanced with paperless and streamlined processes and office functions,” she adds. “We are moving in that direction at Duck River.”

“Employee recruitment, retention, and engagement are changing,” adds Young. “With multiple generations employed today in the workforce, finding a unique blend of employment offerings will be key in recruiting and retaining talent going forward to build a strong DREMC team.”

Keller has been at DREMC for 11 years and gained experience as a member services representative and assisting with billing and data processing. For the past two years, Keller has fulfilled the role of payroll specialist and is responsible for entering and producing bi-weekly payroll information for all employees, tracking accrued leave hours, and processing all changes related to payroll functions for 180 employees.

“I’m pretty particular about my job,” Keller says, which is a good thing considering what she does requires accuracy and punctuality. “I’ve always been a people person, and helping employees better understand the payroll process and the information provided on their paystubs is something I enjoy doing.”

Potts and Warren create DREMC’s written, digital and social media communications.

DREMC Information Technology Team

The DREMC information technology team members are, from left, Beau Campbell, James Trott, Matt Adams, and Matt Sanders.

DREMC Administrative Services Team

DREMC’s administrative services team includes Brandi Shore, Kayla Young, Pat Garrett, Shay Maupin, Jerica Keller, Brad Vincent, Elisabeth Thompson, Connie Potts, and Gina Warren.  

Potts began working at DREMC in 1998 in the cooperative’s energy services department. She has worked in her current role since 2020 and is responsible for the monthly employee newsletter, updating the information posted on internal and external communication monitors, and she coordinates community events sponsored by DREMC such as the annual membership meeting, the Chapel Hill Tractor Pull, and the creative writing contest for high school juniors. She assists with special projects such as employee meetings and other internal communications projects, and she assists with the residential energy services programs and other administrative duties for the team.

“The way we do our jobs has changed following the pandemic,” said Potts. “We were already progressing toward a more digital process, so working from home for several months during the pandemic quickened the adoption of new technology and relying on laptops, remote internet connections, cell phones and most importantly, digital storage for file sharing.”

Warren joined the team in 2017, bringing 27 years of experience in the field of utility communications and marketing to DREMC. Her focus is on external communications and keeping DREMC members informed of programs, services, power outages and other cooperative messages.

She develops content for the cooperative’s Tennessee Magazine pages, the online DREMC News editions, DREMC’s website, social media pages and other communication projects that reach members, while also assisting with educational and safety programs for students.

“I have the privilege of communicating our stories through magazines, newsletters, video productions, calendar publications and more,” said Warren. “There’s always a photo to take or a story to share that communicates how DREMC supports the residents and businesses in our area.”

Garrett joined the team in 2004 with previous experience in the heating and cooling industry, which has served exceptionally helpful in his role as the residential energy advisor. His role includes assisting residential members with improving energy efficiency, whether he is inspecting a recent heat pump installation or following up on an electric bill concern. Through DREMC’s energy programs, Garrett assists members with the heat pump loan program, residential solar, attic insulation rebates and in-home energy audits.

“I am always available to answer questions about energy use and new technologies for energy efficiency,” said Garrett. “It’s important to promote energy efficiency and how it can affect the amount of the energy bill. One tool Duck River Electric offers to help members monitor their energy bills is through receiving daily energy use notifications sent by text or email.”

Garrett explains that each day, members can see how much electricity they use and the approximate cost of the energy used to assist them with making adjustments to be more energy efficient. Members can see changes in their energy use as the temperatures change. These daily notifications have also served as early detection for malfunctions with large appliances as higher-than-expected energy use is reflected.

Vincent began his career at DREMC in 2006 as an apprentice lineman for the Shelbyville office. In 2018, he took on the role of DREMC’s safety coordinator and oversees employee on-the-job safety, compliance, workers’ compensation, personal protective equipment and meeting Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines. He also assists with conducting regular safety training for all employees.

“The most important part of my role is helping every employee to go home to their families safely at the end of each day,” said Vincent. “I have the unique perspective of seeing both sides of my job – from a lineman’s point of view and that of the safety coordinator. To us, keeping the lights on and restoring power as quickly as possible is important, but working safely is the most important thing. We can’t take shortcuts in our line of work.”

Maupin joined DREMC in 2018 as a member service representative in Shelbyville. In 2020, she began her role as the business programs specialist, serving as Duck River’s liaison and point of contact for DREMC-served businesses when they need information ranging from increased electric load to energy efficiency programs. She oversees the Comprehensive Services Program, which offers energy efficiency services to businesses such as LEC lighting upgrades, energy audits, and HVAC studies.

She also partners with Garrett to assist residential members with DREMC’s heat pump financing program.

“I enjoy helping people,” said Maupin, “and being a point of contact for DREMC members who need assistance with improving energy efficiency at their homes or businesses helps make the process convenient and accessible.”

“Our goal is to be responsive to the needs of the members,” said Thompson. “We aim to offer quick and efficient access to internal and external information. There is tremendous effort happening behind the scenes to collaborate across all departments at Duck River Electric, and we all work together to make programs, services and information available to members and employees alike.”