Perspective: A Lot Like Dad
June. What a great month! School’s out, pools are open, fish are biting, and the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie is out. It’s also the month I get to celebrate being a father to two amazing kids and a great dad who taught me about life at a cooperative. My dad, Bucky, as he’s known to most people, recently retired from a long career as a cooperative manager in Alabama. I learned a lot about this industry from watching him. He and mom raised my brother and I with the skills we needed to be successful. The son of a mechanic, he knew how to fix everything, and he taught us about resourcefulness and hard work.
He could build anything. I remember coming home from school one day to witness him mowing the grass twice as fast as usual. The accelerated speed wasn’t because he’d sharpened the blades or decided to run instead of walk, but because he had tethered two push mowers to a riding mower and was mowing the grass with his new hybrid-machine. I’m not quite the mechanic he is, although I did become an engineer - just like him.
I didn’t know growing up this was what I was going to do. Maybe I should have known, though, I’m a lot like him. We even share the same name, Ernest Adelbert Jakins. I’m the third, actually, although none of us go by it, and neither does my son. I became “Chip” from day one, but it took a little time to grow into the “off the old block” part.
Dad would take me out on service calls with him when I was a kid. I’d hold the spotlight for him in the dark while he worked on the power lines or keep the seat warm in the cab of the truck when he met with members. Those times we rode together he instilled in me the same things his father did for him – a good work ethic that calls for trustworthiness and dependability and respect for people. Trustworthiness and dependability are not only important between a father and his children, but for a business as well. Building a reputation for accountability and dependability for our members is what we’re all about at Jackson EMC. That reputation wouldn’t be possible without the employees who carry themselves with the same kind of integrity.
The children of Jackson EMC’s employees look up to their parents just like I look up to mine – some of them look 40 feet up a power pole or to someone hoisted in the air on the arm of a bucket truck, in fact. Some fathers at Jackson EMC work in rain, heat and cold, day and night, when duty calls. It’s not an easy job. The hours are long and tasks are dangerous. But the payoff—making life better and more comfortable for all of us—keeps them going.
Working in this business with Dad, I’ve seen how cooperatives are a lot like family: we care about one another. It shows in how we treat each other, how we operate our business and in how we treat our members. Dad taught me to be reliable and to dedicate myself to a job that benefits the community. Every day I get to work with men (and women) who have been taught to do the same thing. Happy Father’s Day to them and all the dads out there!