Building For Growth
by Bob Hance on Monday, March 1, 2021
I’ve spent my entire 45-year career in the electric cooperative industry and in all that time have never experienced the kind of dynamic growth going on here at MEC.
When I started here as CEO in 2002, we had 78 full-time employees and operating revenues of $36 million. Our net utility plant was valued at $72.6 million, we had 34,738 electric services in place, and sold 470,852,901 kWh.
Fast forward to our 2019 year-end results and we had 105 full-time employees and operating revenues of $87.9 million. Our net utility plant was valued at $212.8 million, we had 40,338 electric services in place, and sold 605,236,640 kWh.
And that’s just the electric distribution side of our business.
Since launching our fiber telecommunications line of business in 2015, we have grown to over 15,000 subscribers. We also provide propane service to nearly 7,000 customers.
Our Chief Financial Officer likes to remind us that we’re a big deal, and he’s right. With strategic leadership from our board, strong commitment from our family of employees, and most importantly the trust and patronage of our customers, we have grown this cooperative and our lines of service in ways I never imagined. And that growth will only continue with planned expansion of our smart grid fiber-to-the-home project and other exciting fiber growth that will significantly change the rural landscape of southern Michigan over the next five years.
We opened a new headquarters facility in 2017 to accommodate the growth in our southwest Michigan territory and are now planning a new facility in our southeast territory. Our existing building in Adrian requires significant work to accommodate planned staff growth and updates to our server room, electrical service, ADA compliance, security, and parking. It’s also not within our service area or even central to the majority of our customers, and the surrounding neighborhood presents safety and security challenges for our employees and customers.
We recently purchased about 10 acres of land on Occidental Highway near the Raisin Township Hall just south of Tecumseh and plan to break ground early in the spring with hopes of moving in spring of 2022. The new building includes 6,500 square feet of office space and 32,000 square feet of warehouse/parking space. It will be physically accessible with a drive-through window and a safe and secure server room to accommodate our technology needs.
Building a new facility allows us to plan for both current and future customer, employee and operational needs, and house all employees and lines of business under one roof. The location is more central to our overall customer base in southeast Michigan and gives us a presence for building and expanding our brand in potential new service areas to the north and west.
When you’re a big deal and experiencing the kind of dynamic growth that we are, you must invest in the physical and human resources to support it. And I promise you these investments will significantly change rural life and living in southern Michigan.