Mr. Donnie Younce retired as a crew chief in Summerdale in 2012. We asked him to sit down with Taylor McLain, an employee for 10 years who joined the line crew in 2012.
Taylor McLain: So what was it that made you apply for a job at Baldwin EMC back in 1968?
Donnie Younce: Well, it’s a funny thing. Back when I was in high school, I worked at the Purvis service station up in Robertsdale. That’s when the REA (now Baldwin EMC) offi ce was across the street. The guys would come over to gas up their trucks and I got to know them pretty well. As I was approaching graduation, Curtis Hobbs encouraged me to put in an application at the co-op. I had never considered it, but I took his advice and applied, was hired and started the day after I finished high school.
T.M.: Did you think it would turn into a lifelong career?
D.Y.: Well, at the time, no, because I had dreams of becoming an ag pilot. But as I got into working here I enjoyed it so much and enjoyed the people so much that I put the ag stuff on hold.
T.M.: Tell me about the different positions you held. Did you start right off as a lineman?
D.Y.: No, I was hired on the right-of-way crew. I’ll never forget that first day when our foreman took me for a cup of coffee…That was the first time I’d ever had coffee! It was my very first cup.
T.M.: The first of how many?
D.Y.: (laughing) Thousands, I guess! I learned quick! Anyway, I only worked on right-of-way three days when they put me on the line crew. From there I moved to the service truck, and then to construction, and then when they started an underground crew I oversaw that crew from its inception until I retired.
T.M.: What would you say was your favorite part of the job?
D.Y.: Oh, my favorite part was the people – the people I worked with and the consumers. You call them members now, but we called them consumers. I worked from Gulf Shores all the way to Monroe County and I made a lot of relationships with the people I met along the way.
T.M.: Do you think the co-op changed a lot over the course of your career?
D.Y.: Oh, it changed tremendously! And it’s continued to change since I retired. Of course, when I started, there were no digger trucks or bucket trucks, absolutely everything was done by
hand. We might come in on a Monday and they’d tell us to pick out our favorite digging tool. I hand-dug holes from over to where the Beach Express is now all the way to Seminole.
T.M.: Our equipment has definitely made us more efficient.
D.Y.: Well, it’s interesting how efficiency has kind of made a circle. In my early days, when we were asked to do something, we figured out how to do it by trial, that’s how we learned. You don’t have to do as much by hand anymore, but you also have a whole lot of safety regulations that we didn’t have.
T.M.: What advice would you give me, or any lineman, now that you’re retired?
D.Y.: Learn as much as you can, every aspect of your job and the mechanics of it all. Knowledge is something that no one can take away from you.