Saying Farewell to Friends

Retirement is a natural part of the employee lifecycle, but saying goodbye to retirees can be emotional for everyone involved. It’s a bittersweet moment that marks the end of one chapter and the beginning of another.

This month, we celebrate the retirements of Joe Edwards and Kathy Jackson — colleagues who have become friends with us at Pioneer Electric and many of our members.

Joe, with 39 years of service, and Kathy, with 38 years of service, worked here longer than some of our employees have been alive. Not to say they’re ‘older,’ but that they are among our most seasoned coworkers.

Both represent different but equally vital roles in service to our members. As a lineman in our Selma district office, Joe spent his career building the system, responding to outages, and working long hours in all weather extremes. He climbed poles, waded through swamps, operated heavy equipment, sweated and shivered — all to keep the lights on.
Kathy is a fixture for members who visit our Greenville office. Her heart for service is evident in how she cares for our members. With her positive, upbeat attitude and constant smile, it’s no wonder members ask for her by name.

Their retirements are well-earned, and I pray the Lord blesses them with all the happiness, health and success they deserve.

From a business perspective, succession planning is a critical component of our strategic plan. Recruiting and retaining qualified employees is essential to maintaining the level of service our members expect. When people retire, they take with them certain knowledge and skills that only come with experience. It is nearly impossible to hire new employees who already have certain competencies. For example, achieving the journeyman lineman qualification takes about 10 years of extensive on-the-job training.

We have a relatively young workforce at Pioneer Electric — more than half of our employees have been here fewer than 10 years. There are 16 employees eligible for retirement within the next five years. Bridging the gap as the “old guard” passes the torch to the next generation is certainly a challenge as we recruit the right people with the right skills at the right time.

We wish Joe and Kathy all the best as they start their new journey, and we look forward to the new year and all the hope it brings.