CEO Message — August 2021

Appreciating Our Past, While Pressing Forward to a Strong Future

Brandon Wittman headshot

A quick glance at historical numbers reveals a substantial and sustained growth that Yellowstone Valley Electric Cooperative (YVEC) has been experiencing for well over 15 years. This growth is more than just numbers; it is a consolidation of work plans for each department. The process of tying it all together and making certain YVEC runs efficiently, displays the interdependence each employee and department has on the next.

It is not necessarily essential for each employee to understand everyone else's job in the organization for YVEC to run efficiently, but an appreciation for the quantity and quality of work produced by each department within YVEC is beneficial, and this has allowed our Cooperative to become the outstanding business that it is today. To think that our company started from the sweat and determination of 16 area pioneers and has grown into one of the largest and certainly one of the most respected Cooperatives in the state of Montana is an attribute to every employee and director, past and present.

Once again, the work plans for each department are robust and summer sees us in mid-stride, keeping us as busy as we have ever been at YVEC. Member growth is a great challenge, coupled with the obligation to give each member the best possible service at the best possible price. Engineering realizes the need to stay ahead of growth, which results in substation, circuit, and mapping/staking upgrades in order to provide quality power. The line crew knows first-hand the work involved in keeping up with new services, system improvements and outage issues. Customer Service sees the influx of requests for new service and additional information from an expanding membership. Member Services continues to inform and meet the needs of our customer base.

As the membership grows the dynamics also change. Most of our recent new members are young families or retired. Neither group is familiar with how a Cooperative operates and likely only thinks about the service of electricity. Our challenge is to introduce the benefits of the cooperative membership to those customers. Whether it is building the service to their home or business, answering their questions, providing additional product or services, or receiving their monthly electric bill, we always need to put our best foot forward and strive to meet or exceed their expectations. Additionally, the loyalty of longstanding members must not be taken for granted. Consistent education through marketing in a variety of venues is imperative.

2021 has been a positive reflection. Growth has continued, we are buying and selling an ever-increasing number ofkWh's, and our plant is constantly growing to new record numbers. As we expand in plant size, let us not forget the pioneers, the directors, and employees of the past that made this possible, along with the current employees and directors who have brought YVEC to the forefront of Cooperatives in Montana. This year is developing into another record-setting year in almost every facet of our Co-op. Collectively, it is business as usual for us. Our challenges are many, our opportunities are limitless, and our ability is superior.

Brandon J. Wittman
CEO / General Manager