The Value of Hard Work
Jay Shepherd, Project Manager in the Substation division, knows the value of hard work. After more than thirty-five years of working with New River Electrical, he’s getting to take a well-deserved break in retirement at the end of this year.
“I worked in the field for 27 years, and I’ve been a project manager for nine, so in that time, I’ve worked on a lot of projects with a lot of different people,” said Shepherd, reflecting on his time with New River Electrical.
“Honestly, I’ve done a little bit of all aspects that New River works on,” he said.
Right now, Shepherd focuses on substations and has been involved in hundreds of projects during his tenure as project manager. “We get substations running with 765kV, America’s highest voltage, and I’ve actually got two of those going right now,” Shepherd explained. “It’s a lot of responsibility when you’re managing these multi-million dollar projects, but it’s doable when you’re working with the team that we have here.”
The Old School
When asked about the time he’s worked at New River and all that’s changed, Shepherd reflects on the evolution that took place in the company in setting a standard of excellence and safety in the industry. “I’m from the old school,” he said, “and so we had to adapt to changes that came along in procedures and standards. In fact, I was a part of developing new grounding procedures and, as a company, we’ve worked to push New River into a safety culture. Now, it’s so embedded in our company that it’s just the air that we breathe, but it took a lot of work and commitment to get there.”
The reason he stayed at New River for almost four decades is simple: the people. “I’ve always tried to surround myself with good people and benefited from mentors who supported me as I was coming up through the ranks,” Shepherd said. “As I got older and more experienced, I tried to do the same for the younger folks that were coming in.”
“There are a lot of good people at New River. That’s why I’ve never left.”
“It is hard for me to put a number on how many of our foremen, our key field leadership, have benefitted from Jay’s tutelage and mentorship. Maybe more than any other current project manager for us, he has “grown” so many of our current foremen. He has almost taken it upon himself as his mission to identify and promote individuals to positions of leadership within our organization. In addition, his knowledge and assistance does not stop with our field leadership. He has also been instrumental in assisting some of our office staff and younger project managers in the understanding of substation construction. I know this, because I was one of many that benefitted from Jay’s knowledge and expertise. He took someone under his wing that knew nothing about substation construction and did everything he could to help me. I respect the heck out of Jay, not only for what he did for me, but for what he has done for many other people here at New River. His knowledge and his attitude will be sorely missed when he retires.”
Chris Whitely, President/CEO
Going out with a Bang
One of Shepherd’s last projects will likely end up being one of the largest he’s ever done – a 765kV substation in Broadford, Virginia. “I’ve never been as busy as I am now,” said Shepherd, laughing. “I guess you can say I’m going out with a bang.”
Now that he is on the precipice of a well-earned retirement, Shepherd is looking forward to traveling and spending more time with his wife Sharon, fishing, and working on his farm in Montgomery County, Virginia. His days will surely be full with a dozen grandchildren all under the age of eight. A few of his sons-in-law work for New River Electrical, too. “I know the sacrifices I made for my children, and I know what they’re going through,” said Shepherd, “so I’m looking forward to having my grandkids around more and spending time with them on the farm.”