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Employee Spotlight Safety & Reliability November 03, 2023

Employee of the Month > November

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Employee of the Month > November

There is an old saying, “Give a man a fish, you’ll feed him for a day; teach a man a trade and you’ll feed him for a lifetime.” November’s Employee of the Month does just that. Since 2021, Slade Wills has worked as the Assistant Lineman Training Coordinator, training dozens of men and women as entry helpers, equipment operators and linemen. His dedication to his craft, work ethic, and dogged pursuit of safety has earned him the respect and admiration of his colleagues and trainees across the District. Please join us in congratulating Slade on being November’s Employee of the Month.

Slade is an excellent example of someone whose loyalty and work ethic has allowed him to grow his career at the District. In 1997, Slade started as a part-time flagger. In June 1998, that part-time position helped him earn a regular full-time position as a Meter Reader. In 2000, Slade was promoted to Line Helper. In August 2004, Slade accepted the position of Line Apprentice and began attending the District’s Apprentice Program in the fall of that year. In December 2007, he completed the Line Apprentice Program and was approved to take the Journeyman Lineman test. After successfully completing the testing, he earned his Journeyman Lineman classification in January 2008. Slade was promoted to Line Foreman in 2019, and in March 2021, he became the Assistant Lineman Training Coordinator. In May 2022, Slade was a member of the Operator-in-Training Team recognized for identifying and enhancing the training program by adding a layer of mentorship and real-life scenarios.

As Assistant Lineman Training Coordinator, Slade works with a team to provide District employees with job-related vocational training common to the utility industry. This includes demonstrations of skills required in the trades and lectures on theory, practices, methods, procedures, and terminology.

“One of our District Commitments is to be the ‘best version of Team PUD’. Achieving this would not be possible without the incredible efforts of employees like Slade,” said Guy Payne, AGM Distribution and Engineering. “Quality training is critical to our ability to have a team that works safely, has high morale, and can get the job done in the challenging conditions our employees often have to work. I want to extend my congratulations to Slade for this much-deserved recognition.”

Slade is not content with just getting the job done. According to his colleagues, he is always looking for new ways to innovate and improve and bring Team PUD to the next level.

“I constantly see Slade taking on all challenges and excelling – to a point where he has earned the respect of everyone he works with,” said Carlos Tostado, Lineman Training Coordinator. “We now have a saying that, ‘Where there’s a Wills, there’s a way!’ This is due to Slade’s innovative way of developing solutions to challenges in training, or any other project he gets involved with.”

One of the projects Slade was recently involved with was developing the District’s safe driving program.

“We now have a saying that, ‘Where there’s a Wills, there’s a way!’…”

“Slade, along with his team member Billy Binckley, have been key members of the Driving Committee,” said Tim Durand, Safety Specialist. “Slade is our Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) expert along with Billy. He has helped in program development and always pushes us to strive for excellence with our CDL program. His input has been incredible in helping us work with employees to improve their skills and prevent future accidents at the District.”

Another area where Slade has advanced the District’s safety training is at the monthly Ops staff safety meetings. For years, the goal has been to have the same presentation at all offices. Slade has taken up this challenge and delivered.

“Slade has taken our monthly safety training to an entirely new level,” said Paul Kiss, Operations Superintendent. “Slade goes in and tailors the presentation from the Safety Department to each group so that it is relevant and addresses emergent issues. He also takes the minutes from all the offices and shares them out for transparency and visibility – so we can all learn from each other. It is a ton of work, and he has done an awesome job.”

In addition to making safety meetings better for operations crews, Slade has also made all training more engaging and accessible for all staff at the District.

“Slade is very communicative on scheduling, making make-up sessions available, and sending reminders until he gets everyone trained who needs to be,” said Paul. “He will make sure that you get there, and he has made training more hands-on and interactive, so now people are excited for training, rather than it being a chore. He has taken mandatory trainings and made them fun and interactive.”

Additionally, whether it is testing for equipment operators, apprentices, or entry helpers, Slade and his team of Billy Binckley and Dave Fawcett, manage all the details so that everything runs smoothly. Whether it is training or testing, Slade’s commitment to his craft, his trainees, and the District, shines through.

“One of the best qualities of Slade is his loyalty and work ethic,” said Carlos. “I am extremely lucky to have Slade as my assistant, and I know that when I retire Slade will be perfect to replace me. I have confidence that the Line Training Department will thrive under his leadership.”