Three generations of the Pugh family have worked at OUC, starting with Robert (second from left) in 1967. He worked for 35 years in the Water Department. His son, Scott (far right), joined OUC in 1988 and is currently a senior underground distribution inspector. Scott met his future wife, Angela Reali, at OUC’s downtown office where she was an administrative assistant. She left in 2001 when their son, Travis (far left), was born. Travis recently started working at OUC as a line technician III.
It’s not uncommon for longtime employees to characterize working here as being in a family, a sense of camaraderie that takes on a deeper personal meaning for those with multigenerational ties to OUC. This story, part of a series of articles commemorating the legacy of our 100th year (1923-2023) of service as The Reliable One, highlights a family’s history at OUC.
As we celebrate OUC’s centennial, members of the Pugh family can appreciate the milestone knowing their relationship with the company spans three generations over 56 years and counting.
Robert Pugh had only an eighth-grade education when he got a job with OUC in 1967. He was 23 years old, married and starting a family that would enjoy a comfortable lifestyle for years to come, inspiring his son, Scott, and grandson, Travis, to follow his career path.
Robert, now 79, spent all 35 years of his OUC career in the Water Department, starting as a pipe layer making $1.85 an hour, 45 cents more than the U.S. minimum wage. He worked in the trenches installing water pipes until 3:30 p.m. on weekdays, followed by an 11 p.m.-to-6 a.m. shift driving trucks hauling oil from the Indian River to OUC’s former downtown Orlando power plant along Lake Ivanhoe. He could get in two trips on weeknights and three on weekend nights, making $13 per load.
This intense work schedule was of his own making, not compulsory, as Robert was used to working long hours in manual labor jobs. After a construction accident left his father unable to work, Robert quit school at 14 so he could help support the family. That work ethic stuck with him as he and his wife, Betty, started a family of their own.
“It was hard work, but I made a good living and had good benefits. I was able to buy a house and raise a family and retire at age 58 with a pension and paid health insurance for me and my wife,” Robert says. “I was very fortunate.”
Scott recalls growing up in a middle-class home as his father moved into good-paying positions that were less demanding on his body and time.
“We always had everything we needed,” Scott says. “My dad worked a lot, but he never missed a baseball game I played in, home or away, or when I raced BMX bikes. I had a good life growing up.”
While on the summer break after his first year at Valencia College, Scott interned as a water draftsman at OUC. “During that time, I’m thinking my dad’s been here and we’ve never struggled, always had food.” Scott recalls.
In 1988, 19-year-old Scott Pugh began working for OUC as a meter reader, launching a career that would see him reach line technician II status, move into assistant electrical engineering roles in which he designed electrical systems for new construction, and meet his future wife. He currently works as a senior underground distribution inspector, ensuring that underground electrical conduit, transformer pads and other infrastructure equipment are properly installed. While he has worked at OUC for as long as his father did, 35 years, Scott says retirement is probably 10 years away.
He met Angela Reali in 1999 while she worked as an administrative assistant in the old administration building on South Orange Avenue, now the site of Aloft Orlando Downtown. They married in 2001 and two years later Angela made the decision to leave work and stay home to care for the first of their two sons, Travis and Austin.
“My wife loved working at OUC,” says Scott. “But she made the decision to be a full-time mom to our two boys.”
Like his paternal grandfather and father, Travis wasn’t cut out to work in a desk job. Still, Scott says he encouraged his eldest son to go to college “because that’s what parents are supposed to do.” But Travis had his mind set on working for OUC as a lineman.
“I thought line work was the coolest thing ever. It’s been a dream job for me since I was young,” he says.
His dream had to wait a while to come true after graduating from Valencia’s Electrical Powerline Technician training program last year. With no openings for entry-level line tech IIIs at OUC, Travis took a job with Duke Energy while his father kept his ear to the ground for openings on OUC line crews. Eight months later, Travis was hired as a line tech III on a construction crew based in St. Cloud.
“I think Travis saw that OUC had provided a good life for our family, so he wanted to work here, too,” says Scott.
Travis, 20, agrees, saying, “I plan on working hard and making journeyman at OUC. I will retire here.”
Given the Pugh family history, there’s no reason to doubt that he won’t.