From Aircraft Mechanic to Learning Supervisor

Matty Garr

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc.

www.tristategt.org

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc., is a wholesale electric power supplier owned by the 44 electric cooperatives it serves. The company generates and transmits power to its member systems throughout a 200,000-square-mile service territory across Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Wyoming.

Tri-State operates as a not-for-profit cooperative serving 1.5 million end-users. Total annual energy sales are $1.3 billion. The organization has about 1,500 employees throughout its four-state service territory. Headquarters are in Westminster, Colorado, near Denver.

Tri-State has recruited veterans throughout its history. Veterans account for about 8 percent of the current work force. The company has found that the military’s technical training and its focus on quality and professionalism are a good fit for its technical, trade, and professional positions.

The company needs to recruit and retain top talent, due especially to high retirement numbers in the industry. Historically, utilities have long-tenured employees and low turnover.

Opportunities at Tri-State include:

  • engineers – electrical, civil, mechanical, chemical, and environmental
  • technicians – primarily line, substation, and telecommunications, to maintain its transmission system
  • business analysts
  • information technologists
  • regulatory and compliance specialists
  • supply-chain specialists

A VETERAN SUCCESS | MATTY GARR

Matty Garr served in the United States Air Force for 20 years, retiring as a major. His duties ranged from aircraft mechanic to vice dean of academic affairs for squadron officer college.

Today, he is a learning and development supervisor at Tri-State. He leads the generation apprenticeship training programs and the company’s new leadership development program. He joined Tri-State in 2013.

The leadership skills that Garr developed in the military led him to his first civilian opportunity in a management role at Tyson Foods. He has found that those skills and his abilities to organize and promote efficiency have served him well – from working in a production environment at Tyson to working at an electric generating station at Tri-State. “You need those skills to meet the demands and the pace of a job,” he said.

He also emphasizes the importance of taking ownership of problems and then going on to solve them. “The dedication and perseverance to overcome challenges and obstacles definitely sets prior military members apart from others in the work environment,” he said.

Garr finds that Tri-State is a natural fit for himself and other veterans. He cites the service attitude fostered there as well as at the rigor with which the company handles processes such as budgeting and safety. He especially likes the opportunity to work with people from diverse backgrounds and disciplines – from heavy equipment operators to instrumentation control specialists and plant operators.

According to Garr, a broad skill set will foster success in a variety of civilian roles. He advises servicemembers to gain as many skills as they can during their service.

Servicemembers also need to decide what to look for in a civilian work environment. “Determine the type of work culture that you would thrive in – and want to work in – before selecting the company to work for,” he said.

But what if your ideal job is not currently available at the company? Garr recommends considering all options to get started in a career at Tri-State. “Just having a positive attitude will drive your success.”


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Tuesday March 1, 2016

This article appeared in the March-April 2016 issue of Search & Employ Magazine