Dale Warman

Dale Warman

People knowledgeable of the utility industry understand the risks involved in being a line professional, but until 1984, there was not an organized event for linemen to showcase their craft. A group of professionals in the industry, including Tom White, President of TWSCO, Dale Warman, a supervisor for Kansas City Power and Light, and Charlie Young, a supervisor for Southwest Line Construction, recognized the need to have an event that focused on showcasing the talents and safety efforts of the line professionals.

The International Lineman’s Rodeo & Expo is now gearing up for its 29th annual event with the focus still on sharing knowledge of the industry in order to maintain a safe workplace.

Dale Warman, Co-Chairman of the Board of Directors, is in his 30th year of planning the rodeo. Warman gave us some insight into what the rodeo means to the profession.

Q: How did the Lineman’s Rodeo come about?
A. Tom White brought up the idea of having a friendly competition to showcase the skills of the linemen. We used the (model) of a cowboy rodeo and we wanted it to be a time to bring the linemen’s families in to show what they do.

Q. How did the Lineman’s Rodeo grow to an international event?
A. It started as a Kansas state rodeo, Midwest Rodeo, then national and then Canada, England, Ireland and Jamaica joined to create an international event. The theory has been the same all along; the rodeo is for the linemen, by the linemen. The Expo part of the Rodeo was added to help finance it.

Q. How does the Rodeo benefit the profession?
A. The Rodeo also focuses on safety practices. We added a day-and-a-half Safety Conference on the Wednesday before the Rodeo, so now the event runs four days. Linemen can’t just come to the rodeo and be successful. They need to practice and practice and work at their skills all year long.

Q. How has the industry changed since the first Rodeo?
A. I’ve seen the skills of the linemen improve year after year. You can’t even compare them with years past. Their work practices and safety practices have become better and better.

Q. What other events happen at the Rodeo?
A.  There is a large barbecue and trading on Friday night. Since it’s a family event, there are train rides, face painting, a petting zoo,  and stagecoach rides along with the Rodeo on Saturday. We also present four scholarships on Saturday at a prime rib dinner.

Q. It’s your 30th year planning the Rodeo, how do you feel?
A. There are hundreds of volunteers that have worked year after year to make this event successful. After the event, we’re all tired, but everyone will say when they see the linemen come in with their kids and families and laughing and having a good time-“That’s why we do it.”

Q. What do you foresee for the future of the industry?
A. We’ve seen this industry regulated, deregulated to back to regulated, and mergers and acquisitions, but it all comes back to where the rubber meets the road, with the linemen who always keep their eyes on the ball. It’s slowly changing with better equipment, but it still means you have your people doing it. It’s not a job someone gets into and quits. It’s not unusual to have 35 years before retiring. It takes a special person to do this work. You’re on call all the time.

International Lineman's Rodeo and Expo

Picture from http://www.linemansrodeokc.com