Some of Jeff Vonau’s best days were stormy days. Vonau was a lineman for an Electric Utility in Eagle River for 23 years and he found great satisfaction in getting the power back on for customers after a severe storm.
When he was employed by the city, the manager of a utility company asked Vonau to become a lineman apprentice. It was a four-year commitment with pay and a guaranteed job at the end. Of course he said, “Yes.” He liked everything about the job, but especially enjoyed the trouble-shooting and repairs associated with a power outage and seeing the lights go back on in people’s homes and businesses.
“You are working as you learn,” he explained. “The work is physical and you have to like working outdoors in all kinds of weather.”
Vonau has seen many changes in the equipment involved in power distribution over the years. Linemen now have battery-operated tools for crimping and cutting and material handling buckets. However, they still have to climb poles.
He left the job to become an instructor for various municipal utility companies around the state. An instructor in the Electric Power Distribution program of Moraine Park Technical College was leaving the college to take a different job. He asked Vonau if he would like to teach at the college. Again he answered, “Yes.”
Now he gains satisfaction from seeing his students graduate and start good careers.
“When you are in my classroom it’s like a job. I expect students to show up on time and do the work. Safety and good work practices are a priority he says. “In the end they appreciate it.”
“(Electric Power Distribution) is an excellent trade,” he adds. “Being a Power Lineman is a very satisfying job.” Beyond that, there are opportunities to become a meter reader or a substation technician. There’s also upward movement in a company.”