A Lineman's Life
What it takes to be a Jackson EMC Lineman.
Talk to any lineman and one thing you’re likely to recognize is the dedication it takes to excel on the lines. Along with building and maintaining power lines and equipment, linemen work day and night to restore power – sometimes in turbulent weather conditions.
For these highly-skilled professionals, being a lineman isn’t just a job. It’s a way of life.
Jeff Chandler, Journeyman Lineman
Jeff Chandler has always been interested in mechanics. When he joined Jackson EMC 22 years ago, Jeff not only wanted a long-term career, he also wanted an opportunity to experience hands-on learning.
Jeff enjoys building substations. Jackson EMC currently serves members throughout 81 substations. Since joining the cooperative, he's helped build about 35 of those stations. Over his career, Jeff has advanced to journeyman lineman – thanks to the opportunities to do the things he enjoys most.
When he’s not on a bucket truck, Jeff can be found serving as a pastor at a Baptist church in Jefferson. His three children – ranging from ages 18 to 24 – know when duty calls, Jeff may have to leave. “My kids know whether I’m at church or out to eat, when the phone rings, I may have to leave to help."
"'I like building and rebuilding things, so I fell in love with lineman work."
Quavis Marbury, Lineman
After years in the manufacturing industry, including producing wire used for power lines and making parts for cars, Quavis Marbury became a lineman. His career at Jackson EMC began four years ago, after graduating from a lineman training school.
"It's been fun. I work with a bunch of great guys. I’ve learned a lot, especially from my crew leader, Dan Giles. He taught me a lot. We may joke around, but at the same time, every day, he’s teaching me something new."
Growing up in a small town near Auburn, Ala., Quavis was always interested in electricity. His family often drove by a power substation. “As we drove by it every day, I used to tell my mom, ‘I’m going to be in there one day,’” he said.
Quavis said he enjoys many of the responsibilities of being a lineman – including helping to restore power during an outage — and serving alongside his fellow linemen. “It took me a long time, but I finally got here,” Quavis said. “I had a long journey.”
Clay Phillips, Journeyman Lineman
Clay Phillips joined Jackson EMC when he was a youth apprentice at Jefferson High School. Over his 18-year career with the electric cooperative, Clay has advanced to journeyman – a position that requires at least seven years of training and experience as a lineman.
“You have to enjoy being outside and handling every element Mother Nature throws at you,” Clay said. “It’s going to be hot. It’s going to be cold. It’s going to be wet, and long days and long nights.”
As a journeyman, Clay has helped restore power in his community and served on co-op teams helping to restore power to areas hit hard by massive storms, such as Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Katrina.
“There was so much destruction [after Hurricane Katrina]. We were in the (area by the) lower Mississippi River, right above New Orleans. That was pretty memorable. We were there for 14 days,” Clay said.
At home, Clay enjoys spending time with his children, ages 11 and 5. He’s also competed in the lineman’s rodeo, an annual event in which linemen compete in a series of events in traditional linemen skills and tasks. In 2018, Clay was part of a journey-man team that placed as the top electric cooperative team at the International Lineman’s Rodeo.
“I love the competitiveness of rodeo. And the comradery of the guys. We’re all pretty close. It’s a way for your family and friends to see you work, too."
Taylor Houser, Apprentice
Taylor Houser says when he comes home in his work truck, his six-year-old son reminds him of his desire to be a lineman someday. “That’s what he says he wants to do when he grows up,” Taylor said.
“I tell him it’s a good job and a good career. There are so many opportunities at Jackson EMC for linemen to move up the ladder and move into other things.
After graduating with an associate's degree in finance, a family friend recognized Taylor’s strong work ethic and convinced him to consider a position at an electric cooperative. After five years at other Georgia electric cooperatives, Taylor joined the team at Jackson EMC two years ago.
“I’ve learned everywhere I’ve gone in my career,” said Taylor, who also participated in a lineman training program. Taylor says as a lineman, you’ve got to put members first: “When that call comes in, you’ve got to be ready to pick up the call and go to work.”
When he’s not working, Taylor enjoys spending time with family, including fishing and hunting with his son.