Matt Miller, operations manager for HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Co-op, now has some different job titles: “retiree,” “Grandpa,” and “traveler”.
An Ionia native, Miller started his line apprenticeship in 1974, working for contractors out of the IBEW Local 876 union hall, and earning journeyman status in 1979. A few years later, he started at Wolverine’s small Portland power plant, attached to the HomeWorks office.
In 1986, joined HomeWorks on the distribution side of the business. He became a crew leader, Portland line supervisor, and then took over the entire operations department, including the Blanchard facility and engineering/dispatch.
Looking back, he sees many changes in line work. “We used to get work orders on a half-sheet of paper, now they’re on computers,” he says. “We had one bucket truck, now we have four at each office—we climbed everything then, but it’s safer work now, with the buckets.”
One thing that won’t change are his memories of the people he’s worked with over the years. “It does feel like family here, with more ups than downs,” he says. “We help each other, like after the fire (in 2004, when a fire destroyed the Portland operations building and several vehicles). Everybody pulled together to make things happen. We didn’t miss a beat taking care of the members.”
With priorities changing from the co-op family to the Miller family, Matt is looking forward to spending time with his grandchildren and traveling to Zion National Park in Utah.
In planning for Miller’s retirement, HomeWorks’ operations and engineering functions were split into two departments. Chris Reed, the new manager of electrical operations, oversees the line departments, warehouses, contractor crews, and vegetation management program. Chris Jensen, engineering services manager, is leading the people working on mapping, work plan development, purchasing, and Portland dispatch.