A brotherhood. That’s how OUC line technicians describe the bonds they have with each other. Linemen spend 40 to 80 hours a week with their crew, working in hazardous situations, in all manners of inclement weather. By necessity, linemen look out for each other like family.
Now, among OUC’s latest recruits are two actual family members — identical twin brothers Matthew and Mitchell Coakley.
The two hadn’t planned to work at the same place in the same department. It just happened that way.
When OUC posted job openings for apprentice line technicians last summer, Mitchell had just left the Army and Matthew was working as a lab assistant at a metal finishing shop. A few of their family friends are linemen and told them OUC was a great place to work, so they both decided to go for it.
The application process was very competitive. Roughly 200 people took the employment test, and 40 made it to the field assessment. Of that group, only 11 would be hired.
“It was stressful,” Matthew said. “I didn’t want him to get it but me not get it.”
But Mitchell was confident their chances were good. “We’re both pretty athletic and competitive,” he said. “But I was hoping it was either both of us or none.”
Happily, both Matthew and Mitchell made the cut. The brothers officially started as Apprentice Line Technicians in August 2017.
While the brothers are technically on different crews, both crews are assigned to the same job site right now. And as you’d expect from brothers, there is some friendly ribbing when they are together. “We’re always giving each other a hard time,” Matthew admitted.
According to Choice Ryon, Line Supervisor, their friendly critiques are good for the crew. “Their teasing each other keeps everyone in a good mood and going through the day,” he said.
Plus, it’s good for them too. “Because they are brothers, they cause each other to strive to be great,” Ryon added.
Their good-natured competition seems to be working, because this spring, Matthew and Mitchell hit two milestones together. Both were promoted from Apprentice Line Technician to Line Technician III. And they participated in their first Florida Lineman Competition, also known as “the rodeo,” in which they competed in timed events against other line technicians from across the state.
It was a special event for both men, especially because their families were able to watch the competition in Kissimmee. Matthew and Mitchell each have two young children who’d never seen them climb a pole before. Mitchell said his kids’ eyes lit up, and Matthew remembers his daughter shouting excitedly, “Daddy, Daddy!” from the ground. “I will always remember that,” he said.
“It’s just nice for your family to see what you’re doing every day, why you’re home late, why you’re out there in every storm — seeing the purpose of what we do,” Mitchell said.