Aaron Bradshaw began his duties as Intercounty Electric Cooperative Association general manager in March 2013.

Now that he’s been in his new position as general manager at Licking-based Intercounty Electric Cooperative Association for about a month, Aaron J. Bradshaw has a feel for what he’s dealing with.

“I’m very impressed with the people here,” Bradshaw said. “Everyone here seems to really care about what they do, and from the construction to the interaction with members, they all do an excellent job.”

Bradshaw comes to Intercounty Electric (IECA) after working for 12 years with Choctawhatchee Electric Cooperative in Florida (CHELCO), an organization serving some 43,000 residences and businesses in a four-county area in the Sunshine State’s panhandle. As a vice president at CHELCO, he oversaw several aspects of the business, including member services, customer care, marketing, communications, economic development, human resources, employee development and safety.

A graduate of the University of Mississippi with a degree in business administration, Bradshaw has also completed the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Management Internship Program, and holds a Certified Energy Manager designation from the Association of Energy Engineers.

He said his background allowed him to be well prepared for his new situation.

“And I’m not sure all of it’s experience related,” Bradshaw said. “Some of it is fresh eyes.”

IECA’s territory (the largest co-op land mass in Missouri, covering 2,916 square miles) consists of Dent, Phelps and Texas counties, and parts of Crawford, Gasconade, Laclede, Maries, Pulaski, Shannon and Wright counties. It serves about 30,000 households and businesses (510 of which are large power and industrial), its system includes 5,839 miles of energized line, and it employs 118 people.

Intercounty’s GM position opened up when Dwayne Cartwright left last October to join management of an electric co-op in South Carolina. Operations and Maintenance Manager Jack Rinne filled in during the interim, and is continuing those duties.  Bradshaw, 40, said IECA’s goals are primarily member oriented.

“The underlying goal of any cooperative should be to maximize its members’ overall satisfaction by best balancing reliability, cost and service,” Bradshaw said. “For me, this is a reflection of what members actually want. In my opinion, it boils down to three basic things: They want the lights to come on when they flip the switch, they want their bills to be reasonable, and they want to be able to talk to a friendly person who cares about helping them when they have a problem.”

Bradshaw said he understands that customers can’t choose their electric company, so he likes to make sure they feel they have choices and a voice.

“I’m big on options, and I tend to focus on providing them to the membership,” he said. “Just by the nature of the beast, we’re a monopoly, because it’s expensive to build lines, and duplication of service doesn’t make sense. But if we can give people options within our service, I think it makes them more satisfied.

“Coops are basically member focused, and they’re really the ones who are in charge. It would be fairly easy to lose some of that focus and become sort of monopoly minded. I try to never let that happen.”

CHELCO’s territory in Florida includes everything from low-income neighborhoods high-end, multi-million dollar oceanfront homes.

“We had a diverse territory, and that led to different kinds of responsibilities,” Bradshaw said, “We also had to deal with salt spray getting on the equipment, but we never had to deal with setting a pole in solid rock, and that’s a big deal here. So some of the equipment we have here, such as augers and drills, is significantly more crucial.”

Bradshaw’s “fresh eyes” perspective could ultimately lead to a few changes, but he said he’s not rushing into anything.

“I’m in no way opposed tweaking, but I also wouldn’t overhaul a fine-tuned machine,” he said. “I’m not saying I haven’t identified a few things, but I’m trying to make sure anything we do will be of benefit to members.”

Bradshaw currently resides in Houston, while his wife, Donna, finishes up the school year teaching in Mossy Head, Fla., while also watching over the couple’s nearly 1-year-old daughter, Harper.

Activities Bradshaw enjoys include fishing, reading, writing and spending time with family. While growing up at his mother’s house in Mobile, Ala., he spent many summers of his youth at his father’s house in Springfield, so the move to Texas County brings him close to familiar territory.

“I’ve floated just about every river around here, and I’ve skied on Table Rock Lake,” Bradshaw said. “In a way, this feels very much like coming home.”

As he moves forward as IECA’s leader, Bradshaw hopes to not only become an integral part of the surrounding area’s business community, but a loved and respected one as well.

“I’m very, very glad to be here,” he said, “Coops are 100 million dollar organizations, but the people involved still make it like family. They were sad to see me go in Florida, and I hope I’m able to form that same sort of relationship with the membership and the employees here.”

For information about Intercounty Electric, log onto http://www.ieca.coop/HOME/tabid/36/Default.aspx.

––IECA public relations contributed to this story

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