CEO’s Message – February 2023

Building relationships

Anthony Smith headshotI’ve learned many lessons over the years about the value of relationships — some of those lessons were intentional, and some were accidental. One of the most important has been that the bonds with the people we live with, work with, and associate with are not just a side-effect of a well-lived life, but they’re a necessary requirement for one.

This month we celebrate Valentine’s Day with gifts and date nights. It’s also the month that Julie and I were married nearly three decades ago. Those 2 bright-eyed youngsters, exchanging vows in a small-town church back in 1990, were ready to conquer the world together. I will admit, though, that I didn’t quite understand that it takes more than just love and affection to maintain a strong relationship. I’ve learned that it takes hard work and a desire to do what’s best for your relationship — not just for you. Now our family is much larger with three daughters and two sons-in-law, and I feel qualified to provide the occasional word of wisdom.

Relationships with friends need maintenance as well. How many good friends from your youth are now just acquaintances, or maybe strangers? It’s natural for those friendships to change over the years, and it takes a lot of deliberate work to support the most important friendships over time. But unlike the relationships we have with friends and family, some relationships are more formal, such as business partnerships — or maybe even the relationship with your utility company.

Union Rural Electric (URE) is in the energy delivery business, but we’re also in the relationship business. It’s important for our owners (members like you) to be known, valued, and respected. No matter how many columns I write about what our members mean to us, it’s through action that we really develop those relationships.

At URE, we work deliberately and intentionally on member relationship, not only by providing excellent service, but through our involvement with the community, with our youth programs, and with our local schools and chambers of commerce. We support local charities through donations from the co-op, by our employees, and by our members through Operation Round Up. Our employees volunteer within the community, on their own time, and it’s likely you even know at least one URE employee personally — because we’re present and active in the community we serve.

Whether you stop by the office, call us, visit our website, engage with us on social media, or meet with us in the neighborhood, we understand that we’re building a relationship with you during every interaction. If your experience with us met your expectations, or if we disappointed you (in which case I hope we had an opportunity to make it right), we’re affecting that relationship.

I hope that you think of us as something other than just another utility. If you’re curious about what makes us different, check out our About Us page. Or, if you prefer more of a personal touch, give us a call and ask us. Or just catch one of our employees at a ballgame or community event. We’ve got a special relationship because we’re not just an energy company, we’re your energy cooperative.

Anthony Smith