John Armstrong: A Tribute to 47 Years of Safety, Reliability, Service

 In Auburn Electric, City Utilities

By Chris Schweitzer, General Manager, Auburn Electric

Working for the same company for 47 years is almost unheard of today. Well, almost.

When you love what you do and who you do it for, a 47-year commitment to the same employer is not so difficult to understand. Just ask John Armstrong.

On April 8, 2021, John hung up his Auburn Electric hardhat after 47 years of service to the utility. While John retired from Auburn Electric, his commitment to reliability, safety and leadership is certain to power our team for decades to come.

John started at Auburn Electric at age 18. He loved to climb and do work on the lines. As the utility grew, though, John’s knowledge and expertise as a journeyman lineman became a real asset—one which was leveraged to mentor the next generation of linemen.

From left: Eric Warning, Apprentice 2nd Year; Jeremy Forker, Apprentice 1st Year; Zach Friend, Journeyman 4th Year; Troy Stahly, Journeyman, 30th Year; John Armstrong, Journeyman 47th Year; Jeff Tuttle, Journeyman 46th Year; Jack Clark, Journeyman (Retired), 34 Years; Justin Fry, Journeyman 6th Year; Tate Burns, Apprentice 3rd Year; Ty Getts; 1st Year Apprentice; Corey Fry, Apprentice 4th Year (not present)

Mentoring the Next Generation
For the past few years, John has served as part of Auburn Electric’s leadership team as operations manager, training new crew members on the role of a journeyman lineman. Having experienced practically every situation at the utility, no one was more suited for the role than John. And Auburn Electric’s current linemen crew feels equipped to do the job, largely because of the training John has provided.

“We are a young crew but eager to learn and do,” says Justin Fry, a certified journeyman lineman who has been with the utility for seven years now. “John has trained us, then lays out the work for us and allows us to go after it.”

Passing of the belt and hooks…Justin Fry (left) and John (right).

He says John’s known for being straightforward and direct—“He doesn’t beat around the bush,” Justin laughs—but he’s also very encouraging. “When I’ve messed up, he’s shown a lot of grace. He’s famous for saying, ‘You over it? I’m over it. Let’s move on.’”

That “keep pushing forward” attitude is appreciated by the younger crew, as well as long-term colleagues like Jeff Tuttle, who is also a journeyman lineman and serving in his 46th year. Jeff and John have worked together practically their entire careers

“He’s always teaching by example to never give up on anything or anyone,” Jeff says. “He pushes everyone to excel and progress.”

Making Things Better Every Day
Jeff says you don’t have to work with John long to know that he is all about making progress, getting the job done and making the system better. And that commitment to quality is seen in everything John does. Most recently, his contributions to making the utility better include:

  • Three-phase and single phase underground infrastructure
  • New street lighting standards improvement projects
  • Mitigation of public safety hotspots
  • Transition from overhead to underground power infrastructure
  • Wire quality standard and adoption

Serving and Caring for People
His greatest contribution, colleagues say, is his commitment to people.

“This whole job is about serving people. I think John’s legacy here is that of someone who works hard and cares about people,” Jeff says. “John and I take great pride in Auburn’s network—we helped build it—and we believe strongly in serving the people of our customer territory. The people we serve are our family, neighbors and our community.”

It’s also why John can proudly say there’s never been anyone without power for more than 24 hours during the entire time he’s served at Auburn Electric.

“He really cares about the work. He’s thinking about it even when he’s not working. I’m the same way and will miss our shared mindset,” says Justin. “There are not many jobs where you can drive around and see your work everywhere you go. John is truly dedicated.”

Jack, Jeff, & John – Cumulative 127 years of service to Auburn Electric and our Community.

Thank you, John—your commitment to Auburn Electric and our community lights our way toward continued progress in safety, reliability and service.

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