Team Effort Leading Auburn Electric

By Chris Schweitzer – General Manager, Auburn Electric

Here’s the amazing thing about leadership: If you do it right, it’s not just you. The best leaders—whether they’re CEOs, military generals or coaches—surround themselves with highly skilled people to help execute plans and drive excellence throughout an organization. That’s exactly the case at Auburn Electric.

As General Manager, I am charged with leading the overall operations and growth of the City of Auburn’s electric utility. To help me do that, we have built a team I trust—one with a combined 120+ years of experience at Auburn Electric, I might add—to lead the day-to-day operations and set long-term strategic goals.

I’m energized by this team and what they bring to Auburn Electric and, ultimately, all of us who rely on this important city utility:

  • John Armstrong – Operations Manager: With 43 years of service to the City of Auburn and Electric Department, John will continue to chart out the planned construction and maintenance of the distribution network, as well as be a central resource for guiding the utility’s future. And perhaps most important, John cares about people. The vision he has cast for us reflects a focus on people and their purpose.
  • Jeff Tuttle – Transmission, Substation & Power: With nearly 42 years of service to the electric utility, Jeff is the most experienced lineman on staff and possesses special expertise in transmission and substation systems. He will prepare our linemen with sound understanding and skills across all facets of the integrated utility (substation, transmission, distribution, street light and metering). His knowledge and skill set are vital to planning the utility’s future.
  • Troy Stahly – Distribution Supervisor: Troy has nearly 26 years of experience at Auburn Electric, giving him the unique ability to provide the line crews with supervision that is laser-focused on safety, collaboration and productivity.
  • Rob Higgins – Outside Plant Manager: With 10 years of experience at the utility, Rob is central to the management and stewardship of both the electric and fiber outside plant. He will identify and coordinate common interests, as well as help manage key vendor, customer and city relationships.

As you can see, the leadership at Auburn Electric is a team effort—and I’m grateful for that.

Initial Goals & the Road Ahead

The focus for this new leadership team in the year ahead is on items central to our future success.

  • Safety: First and foremost is lineman and staff safety. Being an electric lineman is one of the top ten most dangerous jobs in the US. As you can imagine, we rely on our lineman greatly, and they rely on each other. We want to leverage their experience to become even more effective and keep them safe—always.
  • People and Organization: Our people are Auburn Electric. We will focus on who we are and how we work. We know a healthy work culture gives us the best chance for high performance and sustainable results.
  • Customer Focus: Our purpose is simple: provide reliable power for our community. We desire to have a relationship with our rate payers that is communicative, accessible, aware and accountable. We aim to set high standards for customer response and project management.
  • System Health: Finally, we’ll be very focused on our electric distribution system. While it’s in good shape overall, we want to improve maintenance and invest in appropriate equipment upgrades that will help us minimize outages and provide the best service possible.

These may seem like basic goals, but they are integral to the 24/7 service we provide to the community.

How We Work Matters

As a leadership team, we believe how we work matters. That is, the way we work will directly influence our success. As a result, we believe there are three things central to working effectively:

  • Active Leadership: Every single person who works for Auburn Electric has the responsibility to lead by example.
  • Communication: All staff must choose to communicate openly. Issues get identified and resolved more quickly (and effectively) when communication is open, honest and timely.
  • Accountability: We understand that we are most effective when we are accountable to one another.

I’m excited about this team and the entire staff at Auburn Electric. I look forward to sharing more about the utility and the improvements we’re putting in place. If you have any questions, please contact us by phone at 260.925.8232, email @ electric@ci.auburn.in.us, or stop in the office at 5066 CO RD 29.

About Auburn Electric

Auburn Electric is a tremendous community asset. For more than 116 years, the utility has been municipally owned and operated, providing reliable power for the Auburn community.

More information on appointment of Auburn Electric General Manager