Six lineworkers. More than a decade without injury.
To say they’re a close-knit team would be an understatement – they’re like brothers. They’re a drama-free group that’s focused on getting the job done, taking care of their community and watching out for one another to make sure they each go home safe every night.
Carrollton Service Center is AEP Ohio’s smallest garage. Its six lineworkers have worked together for years – the one exception being an ex-coal miner who was hired in 2017 and has fit right in, according to Line Crew Supervisor Brian Wey.
Carrollton has a family feel to it. The crew spends a lot of time together outside of work and several of them have kids of similar age involved in the same activities.
“This garage has a brotherhood like no other garage,” Wey says. “If one of us has a project, everyone has a project. When I needed help moving, every truck and trailer was outside in my driveway. When someone needed a playset for Easter, on Good Friday everyone was there. These guys work shoulder to shoulder every single day. You don’t have that anywhere else. Nowhere.”
Wey can’t remember the last time someone was hurt in Carrollton, and he started in 1986. There are plenty of reasons why, but in Carrollton – where they know the wives and sons and daughters who could be affected by an injury – the notion of being your brother’s keeper is indelible.
Rich Tharp, who manages the Carrollton group out of a Canton service center, enjoys the dynamic of the garage and sees the many benefits that develop from their closeness. They know each other’s personalities and give each other the freedom to do their best work.
“They look after each other well. If they ever have a disagreement they just work it out,” Tharp says. “The uniqueness of their size lets them recognize each other’s strengths and weaknesses and align their talents. The connection they have with each other is a huge asset. They understand what’s right and they expect it of each other.”
Carrolltown is a rural farming community only about 25 miles southeast of Canton. But to Carrollton residents, the distance can feel much greater.
“If we’re ever driving a truck that says Canton rather than Carrollton, people treat us differently,” Wey says. “Sometimes I need to step outside [the Canton truck] wearing my cowboy hat, and then people say, ‘Oh, it’s you,’ ”
The Carrollton line workers know the residents and the residents know them. It’s not uncommon for customers to have their personal phone numbers and call them if there’s an issue. (Sometimes line workers will call customers to check in, too.)
“They are AEP to the core. They carry the banner and are held in very high respect in the community down there,” Tharp says. “They pay great attention to the customers’ needs and work tirelessly to make sure everyone is taken care of.”
The moral is a simple and eternal one: Be kind to others and look out for them.
“They have a deep connection and caring for each other and for their community. I really think that’s the biggest driver of their success,” Tharp said. “At the end of the day, when you care about someone and know what’s right and hold that level of expectation of others, you stay safe and you make your customers happy, too.”
Published June 27, 2019