Forestry Services Manager Dave Auchter retires
Dave Auchter joined the staff at ECE in May 2002. His knowledge of forestry, extensive experience and passion for service launched a new era in right-of-way maintenance that has improved reliability for members.
“One of the best lessons I learned along the way was to always bear in mind how personal trees are to people,” he said. “I was able to bring that here.”
He gained experience in managing vegetation on transmission and distribution lines with his first job in northern Michigan. He also worked with fleet and building maintenance there. He moved on to Arrowhead Tree Service in Duluth, where he eventually became an owner.
“I developed a tree care and landscaping division at Arrowhead and began working more directly with the public. That’s when I found out how much I enjoy being out in the field, talking to people about their trees….”
His introduction to ECE came in 1999 when he was doing forestry consulting for various companies.
“I was hired to do a complete workload analysis of the system,” he said.
“It became the foundation for developing maintenance cycles and the budgets needed to do the work.”
ECE hired Dave as forester and right-of-way supervisor just prior to the merger with Head of the Lakes Electric Cooperative. One of his greatest challenges was the introduction of herbicide use in vegetation management.
“How we handled that is one of the things I treasure most about working for East Central Energy. We had member involvement every step of the way in putting together our policies and our program. It was an example of how the democratic process works within an electric cooperative.”
Dave spearheaded ECE’s effort to become a National Arbor Day Foundation Tree Line USA utility, a benchmark for excellence in the industry. He started the co-op’s Arbor Day program, which brings lessons about safe and effective tree planting to a local elementary school each year.
As of his retirement on April 26, “grandpa work” is giving Dave constant reasons to smile. He’s thrilled to spend time with his grown children and their families in Minnesota and is planning to visit a daughter in New Zealand more often. He loves gardening, hunting with his two small Munsterlander dogs and is an avid cyclist. Any fear that he wouldn’t have enough to do in retirement quickly vanished. “I find something new to do every day,” he said. “So far, I’m really liking this.”