When Terry Madsen, Crew Foreman for NIPCO's Onawa Outpost Line Crew, started his career with NIPCO on March 13, 1995, he brought with him sixteen years of power line experience, working at Monona County REC. Less than two years later, Monona County REC merged with Crawford County REC to form what is now known as WIPCO. Madsen, who was already familiar with the G&T (generation & transmission) cooperative who provided wholesale power supply and transmission services to Monona County REC, looked forward to being able to work on higher-voltage transmission lines but be able to stay in his home community of Onawa.
In the earlier days of his career, NIPCO's Onawa Outpost location consisted of a modest 24'x35' building outfitted with one service truck and one dump truck. In those days, that location served primarily as a place to store crew equipment and provide a home base for the two-man-crew to file their paperwork in a small office, located inside the metal building. "When we started," Madsen recalls, "We had to use shovels to clean our own driveway. Then we got a snow blower. It wasn't always reliable but it was a big deal." Soon after, NIPCO upgraded the building to allow ease of access for the crew's large service truck, a Bobcat skid loader, more equipment, and a larger office.
Serving on an outpost crew has afforded Madsen many opportunities to work with every member of NIPCO's line crew through the years but centering his work on transmission infrastructure located in the central area of NIPCO's system. "But you really become a close-knit team with your partner crew member."
Madsen, who has reported to a total of seven general managers and eight line superintendents between Monona County REC and NIPCO in his 41-year career as an electric line worker recalls a recent conversation he had with retired Onawa Outpost Crewman, Brad Stevenson, "When you really think about it, you probably end up spending more time with your crew partner than your own family. A trust forms and you really come to depend upon each other to make sure each of you gets home safe every night." It's a mindset he hopes to have passed along to his newest crew partner, Jacob Jochims.
"Work smart and safe and you'll go a long way." - Terry Madsen
With 41 years under his lineman's belt, Madsen has seen his share of dangerous situations but he is grateful to work for an industry that takes great pride in dedicating resources to education, equipment, and processes that ensure the health and safety of its workers. "I am one of the lucky ones," Madsen says. "I am leaving this career with ten fingers and ten toes. There are other guys who aren't so lucky." His advice to his colleagues? "Work smart and safe and you'll go a long way."
Madsen retired from NIPCO on February 28. NIPCO thanks Terry for his years of service and wishes him and his family the very best as he trades spending his days on the line to spending more days on his boat.