Local event draws nearly 250 attendees

About 250 attendees showed up to watch the Gulf Power Lineworker Expo at the training yard at the Pine Forest office.

When 25-year-old twins George and James Tangeman heard about the Gulf Power Lineworker Expo being held March 3, in Pensacola, they decided to make the drive to attend.

It was a 766-mile trip from Dayton, Ohio.

Most of the other 250 attendees were more locally-based as they watched Gulf Power linemen perform several tasks in the company’s training yard at the Pine Forest office.

The event was designed to attract potential future lineworkers for the company.

“I think this is a great opportunity,” said George Tangeman. “Just being able to watch them demonstrate some of these skills, I’m learning how to become a better employee for my contractor.”

George, right, and James Tangeman, 25-year-old twins, drove more than 700 miles from Dayton, Ohio, to watch the lineworker expo.

Both graduated from line school last October. George started working in January for an electrical contractor in Dayton. James started working in December for an electrical contractor that does work on Transmission lines.

The twins used to live in Northwest Florida and would like to return to the area.

“I love the area,” George said. “I was in bib overalls yesterday working in Ohio— it was really cold. But, we come down here and the sun is out and there’s a nice breeze going, it’s great weather.”

Four groups of linemen from all three districts in Gulf Power’s service territory competed in a transformer changeout event, a hurt-man rescue and a simulated live-line event.

Most of the climbing was performed by apprentice linemen to give them more experience.

Teams from across Gulf Power’s service area took part in friendly competitions during the event and showcased the skills needed to become a lineworker.

Tay Ravenell, an apprentice lineman in the Destin office, started working for Gulf Power six months ago, moving here from South Carolina.

“I’ve wanted to be a lineman since I was about 17,” he said. “I used to cut grass at the power company and when the linemen would start working, everyone would stop and watch. It’s exciting to be a lineman.”

The expo serves as a way to increase exposure for lineworker positions. An expected 15,000 lineworkers will be needed nationwide by the end of 2017 as retirements are increasing.

Ben Scott, Training analyst, and the rest of the Training team helped set up the event, talked to those attending and handled the judging of the competition. He said they make several hires throughout the year of apprentice lineworkers to keep the employee stream going.

“We set up the expo as a recruitment event to have people come out and see what we do on a day-to-day basis,” Scott said. “The goal is a two-fold approach; it’s a way for the lineworkers to have a friendly competition, but also to have folks come out and see if they would be interested in working for us.”

Keenan Williams of Cantonment, Florida, plans to go back to school to earn his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.

“I want to be an electrical engineer because I’m a tinkerer, I like to mess with things,” he said. “I like to find out how things work. “There’s no telling where I’ll end up, and if I can get a position at Gulf Power, even better. But, at the very least, I’m walking away with some new information that I didn’t have before.”

The Tangemans heard about the expo on Facebook and said their trip from Ohio to watch the expo was well worth it.

“Getting a job at Gulf Power would of course be the ideal situation, but even if I don’t, I’m still growing as an employee by watching this today,” George said.