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Educational Sessions

Utility and Municipal Joint Sessions

Reversing the Effects of Worker Turnover Through Investment & Collaboration
Tuesday, 11 August 2015
3:30 PM — 4:10 PM
Osceola Ballroom B
A, U, M, Bm
High tree contractor employee turnover rates continue to plague utility vegetation management (UVM) operations in many parts of North America. Unhealthy worker turnover rates, particularly at the crew foremen level, can have significant negative impacts on many key components of UVM programs including worker safety, productivity, quality of work and customer relations. Many utilities assume worker turnover is the contractor’s problem to solve. However, the indirect “hidden” costs utilities incur related to the constant training and turnover of qualified line clearance tree workers can be significant. This presentation will explore the results of a strategic sourcing initiative undertaken by a large investor owned utility which, at its core, involved partnering with its UVM contractors to jointly address these challenges to find win-win solutions. The initiative was successful in justifying to utility executive leadership that investments in the contracted UVM workforce could lead to significant long-term cost savings and operational benefits; benefits which have been realized and sustained over the last 18 years.

Presenter Information

    • Will Nutter
      Will Nutter joined Wright Tree Service in 1982 as a ground person and later held positions including general foreman and division manager before being named COO in 2008. Wright Tree has grown to become one of the largest vegetation management contractors in the U.S. and he has been employee owned since 2002. Will is a past president of the UAA; he served on the executive committee for many years and currently chairs the Safety Committee. Will is driven to promote industry and public safety.

      Wright Tree Service, Des Moines, IA
    • James Downie
      Mr. Downie is ECI’s Executive Vice President providing leadership in areas of corporate strategy, expanded service development, program oversight, technology and strategic executive consulting services. With over 30 years in the utility vegetation management industry, his experience includes serving as a Director at a major Midwest utility where he was responsible for electric and gas vegetation management and wood pole maintenance. Mr. Downie has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology with a minor in Environmental Science. He is an ISA Certified Arborist, Utility Specialist and served as President of the Utility Arborist Association from ’96-‘97.

      Environmental Consultants Inc., Evergreen, CO, United States