As CEO of the Week, United Mechanic Helper Learns About
the Cooperative From Various Points of View
My name is Senovio Delagarza. I am the mechanic helper at United Cooperative Services in Cleburne, and my job is to maintain and repair any fleet vehicle at the co-op to keep them in good working order for the safety of the employees.
I’ve had the opportunity to maintain the United fleet for nine years. I’ve worked on everything from small pool cars up to our large bucket trucks. I enjoy working at United because every day is a challenge, and I am constantly learning something new. When I first started at United, as an example, I was unfamiliar with hydraulics. Now I can easily diagnose and repair most issues.
United supplies all mechanics with the best scanning tools that we can use to diagnose issues. Our scanning devices give us the insight needed to uncover the underlying issues with the fleet. With the tools provided by United and the knowledge of all the mechanics, we can communicate and diagnose most issues that arise.
My daily experience reminded me of how all of us work at United. Then, after serving as United’s CEO of the Week, I came to understand that one of the main reasons why we’re so good at serving our members is because we take the time to find the right person for the job and give them the right tools to do it correctly.
I really enjoyed my experience of being CEO of the week. It allowed me to have a better understanding of the “big picture” and see things that I wouldn’t be able to normally experience.
One highlight was attending the April board meeting and watching how decisions were made.
It’s true that we, as employees, are regularly updated each month on news about the current state of the electric industry or changes coming to the co-op by our CEO, Cameron Smallwood, during our monthly employee meetings. However, I was able to get a different perspective by attending the board meeting.
Decisions were carefully deliberated and discussed. I learned that the board members cared about the co-op and had the best interest of employees and members in mind when discussing the agenda.
Our CEO does a great job communicating with our board members, also. Whether answering questions or patiently listening, it’s clear that he is prepared for any questions board members have and is equally dedicated to serving our membership.
I was also interested to learn how large projects, such as our high-speed internet or even growing our electric service, were funded. Russell Young, our senior vice president of finance and accounting, explained how most businesses go to a bank to get approved for a loan to pay for a project. Once approved, they have the money to commence and complete the job.
United borrows primarily from the Rural Utilities Service (RUS), which falls under the U.S. Department of Agriculture and provides funding in a different manner. RUS loans work more like a reimbursement. To build out either internet or electric services, United must use its own money initially, then submit documentation to RUS to show projects have been completed. Only then will RUS provide funds to reimburse the money the co-op spent on the project. The program pays only for building out “plant,” such as wires or fiber-optic lines. It doesn’t pay for operational expenses.
I also enjoyed learning about how our information technology team works hard to improve the computer systems we use each day to make everyone’s job more efficient.
Cory Menzel, our vice president of information systems and technology, told me how they constantly look at ways to make the computer programs we use work more efficiently and even develop ways to automate mundane tasks and eliminate paperwork. He and his team also develop interfaces between programs to make two different programs work better together.
While I knew this, my assistant CEO experience showed me that everything we do is ultimately for the members. Our mission statement is to deliver exceptional service and value. All our employees play an integral role for United to deliver the exceptional service and value while doing so as safely as possible.
For my team, we keep the fleet running so the linemen and other employees at the co-op can perform their jobs. Each of the employees at the co-op looks out for each other and helps each other when needed. It was eye opening to visit with each staff member and get a taste for the many different roles at the co-op. It has been a pleasure to work for United Cooperative Services for these nine years and I hope to continue until retirement.