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Serving North Texas Since 1937

CoServ marks 85th anniversary by recognizing those with 40 or more years of service

By NICHOLAS SAKELARIS | CoServ

This year marks 85 years since farmers, business leaders and residents banded together to start Denton County Electric Cooperative, now known as CoServ. Their goal: Bring electricity to rural areas that the for-profit utilities wouldn’t serve.

The utility industry has undergone monumental changes since 1937 and that’s only accelerated in recent decades. Members used to read their meters and mail in the usage themselves. It also wasn’t uncommon for an Employee to go from climbing a utility pole in the morning to a school board or chamber of commerce meeting in the afternoon.

CoServ linemen installed new utility poles, underground lines and transformers rather than using contractors. When they finished doing that, they would help a farmer put up poles for a barn.  

Times have definitely changed over the past 85 years. One thing that hasn’t – a strong sense of family among Employees and the dedication to serving Members.

“It really is different here. We’re here to give people electricity. It changed lives when people got electricity because they could read at night, you could cook indoors and it changed so many things back then,” said Executive Assistant to the President/CEO Brenda Walker, who started at CoServ as part of an Office Education program at Denton High School. “I learned early on it’s true teamwork internally to make that happen and you had to help other departments. The word cooperative sums it up. You have to work together internally to be able to serve people externally.”

CoServ has nine Employees who, like Brenda, have been working for the cooperative for more than 40 years. According to President and CEO Donnie Clary, it’s a testament to the amazing culture and duty that is instilled not just by the company but by the Employees themselves.

Our Forty and Up Club

”In this day and time where companies struggle with retention and obtaining dedicated Employees, we are privileged to have such among us who, over their extended tenure, continue to gain and share knowledge while holding true to CoServ’s value of serving others. To stand among devoted individuals such as these is not just a privilege, but an honor.”                                                                     ~ CoServ President/CEO Donnie Clary

Tommy Richards Start date: 1978

Beginning title: Groundsman Current title: Construction Project Manager
Career highlights: Dug trenches for underground lines before becoming a construction inspector in 1985, which was “the best thing I ever did.”

“It’s always good when you’re leaving the job, you see what good work has been done and it’s like you’d want it if it were on your property.”

Janet Knight Start date: 1978

Beginning title: Secretary for Member Services Current title: Billing Manager
Career highlights: Guided CoServ through multiple software upgrades for billing and the transition from analog to digital meters.

“I’ve never worked anywhere else. I can’t imagine working anywhere else. I thought, I’ll stay for 10 years initially. But it’s just always been such a great place. The people here make you feel appreciated and a part of the big picture. CoServ always comes out on top because we do it right the first time.”

Kevin Vincent Start date: 1979

Beginning title: Meter Reader Current title: Power Quality Engineering Technician Senior
Career highlights: CoServ’s first full-time dispatcher, responsible for many of the advancements and developments in outage reporting and response.

“This is not only a career when you’re a lineman or you’re in dispatch.  It’s a way of life. Your whole life revolves around this company because number one, you care about the Members. The only thing we have to sell here is customer service – Our customer service has to be excellent.”

Brenda Walker Start date: 1979

Beginning title: Operations Clerk Current title: Executive Assistant to the President/CEO
Career highlights: Played a key role in implementing the first computerized process for meter readings and cycle billing, managed human resources and later became executive assistant to the CEO and Board of Directors.

“I have learned something valuable from every job I’ve had here. I know after almost 43 years, CoServ is a very caring and really amazing place to work.

Ronny Allen Start date: 1980

Beginning title: Groundsman Current title: Field Construction Supervisor
Career highlights: Moving from working a trencher to becoming an inspector and then working in the service department.

“I’m out in the field most of the day spot-checking to make sure [all the construction jobs] are up to spec. It’s nice to be able to see all these new homes in all these different places. I’ve also been blessed by having great bosses.”

Terri Jeter Start date: 1980

Beginning title: Cashier Current title: Administrative Services Manager
Career highlights: Was instrumental in implementing a new innovative payroll system, then switched to facility management, where she helped design CoServ’s current headquarters and all the subsequent remodels.

“I am very fortunate and proud to work for such a great organization. I have never even contemplated looking for another job.”

Britt Howard Start date: 1981

Beginning title: Groundsman Current title: Engineering Design Tech Senior
Career highlights: Climbing poles, ran a pole digger and later switched to engineering after CoServ helped him through some engineering classes at Texas A&M.

“It’s gone by fast. It just seems like yesterday. We are so busy and growing so fast. CoServ really takes care of you so it’s like a family. You build some bonds with people here. It’s been awesome to have some of the mentors I’ve had along the way to help me. [President and CEO] Donnie Clary is one of them. He was fresh and had new ideas and he was good for CoServ. [CoServ’s retired Senior Vice President of Energy Services] Curtis Trivitt, was a tremendous help and friend to me.”  

Ray Angove Start date: 1982

Beginning title: Serviceman Current title: Power Quality Engineering Technician Senior 
Career highlights: Worked as a lineman for several years and now works in power quality, identifying and repairing problems with electrical interference.

“You wore a lot of hats. Everybody did everything when you only had 25 to 30 Employees. You jumped lots of fences. Climbed poles all day every day. We didn’t have bucket trucks or air conditioning. You didn’t have cell phones. One time my truck died and I had to go to a house to call the office back. The lady had to move her chicken so I could get to the phone.”

Perry Ancell Start date: 1982

Beginning title: Groundman Trainee Current title: System Operations Manager
Career highlights: Started as a lineman, worked his way to crew foreman before becoming a system operator and now he’s the System Operations Manager.

“We have built a top-notch electric system. It is engineered to be heavy strength and then constructed and maintained by highly skilled linemen.”

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