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Faces of AECI: Ronnie Jones

Tuesday, 21 August 2018 17:43
AECI Foreman Ronnie Jones AECI Foreman Ronnie Jones

Earlier this year I started a new feature in this magazine.  Facts are facts.  Everyone knows about some things that did not go as desired in the past.  No one is perfect, and we understand that.  Here’s another dose of reality: if you are from the same place in which you grew up, there is a whole generation of local citizens who may always view someone through the lens of that person’s youthful actions or attitudes.  Unfortunately, this paradigm too often overshadows personal growth and development which are obvious to fresh eyes. 

While failures are often well-known by all, what is all-too importantly overlooked are the quiet successes.  The majority of employees at your Arab Electric Cooperative are going about their daily responsibilities the best they can to do a good job for you.  Most of them are quiet about this.  They do not request or receive much external attention for a job well done.  Perhaps it is humility that motivates some of those high-performers.  Whatever their internal motivation(s) may be, the successes of the high-performers need to be shared with you, and this space is one format in which I will do that. 

Here’s how this article works: 1) I introduce what this person does to serve our members 2) some of their good work habits are highlighted 3) they share some level of personal information with which they are comfortable sharing.  Every employee that will be featured in this effort has full rights on whether they appear at all, and if they choose to do so, they also have full editing rights over how much information they share with you.  The General Manager obviously selects higher-performers to share.

At the time of this article, this area has three linemen to help keep the lights on or get them back on.  Ronnie Jones is one of the three (in fact Ronnie has been in line work for 31 years), but that is just where his story begins.  A lineman is tasked as a first responder during outages, and since most outages occur at night, often fueled by wind or precipitation, being a first responder involves personal sacrifice of their own family time, personal safety, and sleep.  Sleep is a necessity that linemen often give back to the community they serve without any fanfare.  Their spouses or children are usually the only ones who know.  As a community, we should, and will, rally around that level of service.

Linemen, by their nature, understand their mission and accept certain risks that most people can never relate to.  Recent industry surveys have indicated that electric utility linemen are involved in four of the top ten most dangerous jobs in North America!  Much like other forms of public service that require significant sacrifice, most linemen do not choose this profession for fame or fortune.  Candidly, if their determination was not internally-generated, then we’d all be in the dark a whole lot more than we are.

What I most appreciate about the way Ronnie Jones currently handles his business is that he “gets it”.   He fully understands that much change is required at your Cooperative.  Some changes are focused on safety.  Some changes are focused on reliability.  Some changes are focused on doing both of these at the lowest feasible cost.  Regardless of the motivators behind change, there is a core group of employees who are part of the solution to move us forward.  To be very clear, if we advance as an organization appropriately, it will be because of the high performers here.

Mr. Jones demonstrates some other work characteristics that are worth highlighting.  First, he’s always early to work.  He seems to be of the work ethic era when ‘if you were not early you were late’.  Second, he has demonstrated the courage to stand up for what is right, even if he’s alone or in a minority.  Both of those characteristics are, by the very definition, leadership.

When Ronnie is not at work or on call, he is busy in his shop working on old hotrods or checking on things around his farm.  Ronnie is a proud Poppy of 4 beautiful granddaughters, and he is married to a very loving and understanding wife of 16 years.  Lisa (aka Mimi) and Ronnie attend church at Sweet Home Baptist Church.

I hope this introduction was useful.  For those who think you know Ronnie Jones, please look again.  Our Members deserve, and I personally require, the kind of professional maturity that Mr. Jones is now exhibiting.

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