During a recent training session for a class of newly hired line workers, Rich Schmidt, a self-proclaimed “old duffer,” stopped by to share stories of his time with the company and impart words of advice and wisdom to the class.

“There were no bucket trucks back then. We had to climb every pole, and I was paid only $1.46 per hour when I started,” said Schmidt, an 88-year-old retired employee who began his career in 1955.

Rich told the class that after serving in the Korean War, he was hired to hand-place utility poles in the ground, which led to a job as a linemen helper. After line school, he continued to progress through the ranks and had a successful and, most importantly, safe career at We Energies.

“I enjoyed everything I did with the company,” he said.

The class is very familiar with the Schmidt family, as their instructor employee, Mark Schmidt, is Rich’s son. Just like his father, Mark brings years of experience to the class from his longtime career with the company. Many of those lessons started at home before his career began.

“When you grow up with it, it’s just in the house all the time, intentionally or not,” said Mark.

The most important lesson for both Mark and Rich to impart on the new class is safety.

“Safety is so important. Follow the rules and listen to the lessons,” Rich told the class., “Get as much out of your training as you can. You’ll find that the final results and rewards of your lessons are well worth it, and you’ll never be disappointed.”

The line workers are participating in a multiple week course of intensive training to learn how to maintain and repair the electric system and to bring We Energies customers the affordable, reliable and clean energy they depend on.