Get Chris Clements talking about his job as an OUC Electric Repair Technician and you’ll see why he’s in his element. He likes working with his hands and fixing things. Always has. And all around him in the Pershing warehouse facility where he works are things that need to be fixed.
Damaged and blown transformers of varying sizes and shapes are bunched together in a sheltered area as well as outside in the “boneyard.” This is where electrical distribution equipment pulled out of the field find new life or a new purpose. For 17 of his 20 years with OUC, Clements has toiled in this space.
“Everything that comes in here has to be evaluated based on age and condition,” says Clements, who works in the Transformer Shop and Glove Testing Area with Rich McCoy, Line Tech 1, and Jim Livingston, Electric Shop Lead. “We decide whether to repair or replace, and with transformers that are at the end of their 30-year lifespan we decommission and ship them off to be recycled for scrap metal.”
LeMoyne Adams, Vice President of Electric and Water Distribution, commends Clements for repurposing pieces of equipment and giving them new life on refurbished transformers.
“He likes to ensure that OUC gets the full useful life out of equipment,” Adams says, adding that Clements’ resourcefulness translates into cost savings for OUC. “Once he refurbishes equipment, he personally coordinates with the warehouse so they can reduce the number of transformers being ordered,” says Adams. “Chris offers new ideas and he’s always looking for improvements and ways to be more efficient.”
Although he’s always been mechanically inclined, Clements says he knew nothing about repairing electrical equipment when he started working in the shop in 2002. “I learned everything on the job from my bosses, mainly Jim Livingston. Jim has been here 40 years so he’s seen a lot more than I have.”
Livingston, however, is reluctant to accept credit for Clements’ proficiencies.
“I can’t say I taught him everything. He brought a bunch of knowledge with him,” Livingston says. “He has mechanical common sense and he evaluates things pretty well as far as why something doesn’t work.”
Other aspects of Clements’ job include assisting with testing line techs’ gloves and boom trucks to ensure they’re safe for working with electricity. He also pulls extra shifts painting over graffiti on transformers in the field and doing other jobs outside his main duties.
“We have to get on him sometimes about taking his vacation time,” says Livingston. “Chris will take a half-day off to do something with his family when he could take the whole day off. He’s definitely devoted and he likes being here.”