Bill Hawkins (Sales)
Bill has been with the company since 2003. After starting his career on the loading/unloading crew, driving truck and becoming foreman of the Transformer Reclamation Department, he joined the sales force in 2008 and he really enjoys it. "I'm a people person. I enjoy getting to know our customers and develop a friendship. When I'm able to help them out in their time of need it feels really good."
"T&R is a family-owned business and that makes it a great place to work. Both of my sons (Colt and Ryker) have also worked at T&R throughout high school and college."
Bill and his wife Kristy were married in 1998 and both are very active in the community. She is Command Sergeant Major in the US Army Reserve and also works at the Veterans Hospital in Sioux Falls. They enjoy motorcycle rides together including time spent at Sturgis. They also have a hobby farm where they raise chickens, ducks and turkeys with the help of their 4 dogs and 5 cats.
Bill is a volunteer fireman and EMT in Colman. "T&R is very active in the community and they encourage us to be involved." Hunting is also one of his passions. "There's nothing better than sitting in a tree stand with my boys hunting deer..." He's also been part of the chain gang at Hawks football games for several years. During the summer, you can probably find Bill on the diamond (his favorite place) umpiring baseball or watching his sons play.
Working for a family-owned company is right where Bill wants to be, although he takes it to a new level with four Bowens (Kristy's family) in his department. "I'm related to about half the people here! I do enjoy my co-workers. And the company takes great care of you."
Brad Relf (Sales Manager)
Brad has been Sales Manager at T&R since 2015 after joining the sales team in 2006. Like so many of the T&R employees, he got his start working for the company while in high school. "I started off washing semi's and working in the mechanics shop. Then moved to sanding transformers and finally to the junking area where I worked throughout college. It was an easy decision when Chris Thompson contacted me to come back to the company full-time."
The Colman native spends a lot of his day on the phone with customers. He's also part of the crew that goes on the tradeshow circuit, something he really enjoys. "Because the majority of our customer contact is by phone or email, the most enjoyable part of my job is getting to meet our customers face to face when we attend various trade shows throughout the year. Building relationships with your customers is icing on the cake."
Brad and Melissa were married in 2005 and they have two children, Connor and Macy, plus a new dog Dash. They enjoy spending time together as a family at kids activities and also traveling. When he does have some free time, Brad enjoys relaxing on the golf course.
Brad is glad to work for a company he believes in. "I love what I do. I still stay involved with my original customers while supervising the sales staff. It's rewarding to see them succeed."
Brent Nelson (Sales)
Brent started his career with T&R Electric in 1981, the same year he got married to LeAnn. The Colman native has worked in various positions ranging from environmental regulations to marketing and now sales. "I get to do a little bit of everything-marketing, environmental regulations, pulling oil samples, purchasing and sales. It keeps the job very interesting."
Brent and LeAnn live in Colman and have 2 grown sons (Tanner and Alex) who are both married with children. Needless to say, they love spending time with their 3 grandchildren. "Being a parent is pretty special. But I couldn't have imagined how much more rewarding being a grandparent would be. You just have fun with them and send them home!"
The Nelsons really enjoy all that Lake Madison has to offer and spend lots of time on the water. "LeAnn loves the boats rides and I fish for walleyes-they are my favorite." Brent is an avid deer hunter. And, he's a big fan of the South Dakota State Jackrabbits and has had plenty to cheer about in recent years.
As for the job, "T&R has been a great company to work for. And I'm not the only one who feels that way. We have a lot of long-time employees here!"
Doug Bowen (Sales)
Doug has been with T&R since 1972! He worked the night shift while attending Dakota State and moved into sales once he graduated in 1975.
"I love talking to people every day. I enjoy getting to know my customers and hearing their stories." Doug has seen huge growth at T&R since he started working for Jim Thompson and Ken Ross. "It seems like we add a new building every 4-5 years. It was only 2 buildings when I started. All the inventory was in the parking lot."
Doug is a farmer at heart which explains why he's enjoyed seeing such growth at T&R. He helped his father on the family farm until he was 93 years old. Now Doug lives on Brant Lake where he really enjoys being out on the boat. As for fishing, he says when you live on a lake you usually don't fish! His favorite time is in the fall when you have the lake to yourself!
Doug and Julie have been married since 1982 and have 3 grown children.
As for his job, "I can't imagine doing anything else."
John Bunkers (Sales)
John joined T&R in 1971 while attending Dakota State full-time. He started as a night foreman, spending 3 years in the shop, 1 year in loading and inventory, and has been in sales ever since.
"It has been quite an experience to watch a family-owned company grow from 3 truckloads a week to 13-14 truckloads per week!"
John has 5 children and 4 of them worked at T&R while they were students in high school and college. "It's great how the company has always supported local school events and athletics." John has 2 grandchildren in Minneapolis and 1 in New Mexico. Back surgery curtailed playing baseball and golf. He also played football and ran track for the hometown team. But he's become an avid reader and really enjoys fishing.
T&R has been a great career for the Colman native. "It's family owned (2nd generation now) and has always been a great place to work. There's never been a reason to go anywhere else!"
Mike Preheim (Purchasing)
Mike has been with T&R since 2012 and still can't wait to get to work each day. "I love my job, I'm very lucky. It's almost like it isn't work all."
The Freeman native works in the purchasing department and oversees plenty of details. He's responsible for paperwork for the 20,000-25,000 units each year that cross his desk, so luckily he is a very organized person. He drives the sales guys crazy making sure everything is correct. "You could call me a perfectionist."
Mike and Julie have four young children including their first girl born in January of 2019. The kids keep them very busy, but Mike still finds time for his passion as a player for the Colman A's amateur baseball team. He played collegiately at Mount Marty and just loves the strategy of the game. "I can watch from the first pitch to the last and never get bored."
He feels the same way about his job. "I love talking with customers around the country and building relationships. And, getting to meet them at trade shows is a bonus."
Gary Bowen (Sales)
Gary started T&R in 1971 and he's been a fixture at the company since 2001. In all, he has over 25 years of service under his belt. Working at T&R is a family affair for Gary. Two of his sons, Dan and Mike, and a son-in-law, Bill, also work for T&R! "The fact that they work here makes it even better to come to work each day."
As for working in sales, "I enjoy visiting with people..." Gary spent 4 years in the shop and this proves invaluable for his customers as well.
When he's not at work, Gary stays very busy as a grandpa. He has 6 children and 5 live in South Dakota. When you've got 13 grandkids, life can be pretty hectic. He likes to fish the Missouri River for walleye, play golf, ride bike, and of course attend his grandkids' activities!
There's no question, Gary is right at home at T&R Electric!
Jim Shafer (Sales)
We're excited to have Jim become part of the sales force at T&R. He has over 25 years of experience in the transformer industry which is invaluable for his customers. Jim scrapped transformers, pulled PCB samples for analysis and processed load sheet information prior to moving into sales.
"Working at T&R Electric allows me to continue providing customers with the best service I can give them. Having an inventory of over 45,000 transformers and the knowledge of my co-workers to back me up makes doing that a little easier." Jim also has insight of E.P.A. and D.O.T. regulations which gives him a unique perspective on potential issues a customer may be challenged with.
Jim and his wife Amy live in Madison with their daughter Justine. They have 3 older sons, Cam, Chris and Treton. In his spare time Jim enjoys woodworking projects, home improvement projects and tinkering on things in the garage. "Amy gives me half of the garage for working on home projects. She is usually the general contractor so we're both happy with the final product." The Shafers enjoy hopping in the car and going for Sunday drives. It's a time to talk and relax which isn't easy with 4 kids.
Jim wishes he'd joined the team at T&R sooner. "They are great people to work with and for. It's a good family atmosphere and because everyone is so good at their jobs, I can concentrate on servicing my customers and know they will be taken care of."
Keaton Westover (Sales)
Keaton started with T&R officially in 2017, but he's spent plenty of time around the family business since his father (Rich Westover) and grandfather (Ken Ross) have both made a career at the company. "I started off mowing, in the mechanic's room, taking inventory in the yard and then the call center where I gained plenty of knowledge and a comfort level on the phone." His sister Kylie is also part of the sales team. "I enjoy working with family and seeing them every day."
He became part of the sales team after graduating from the University of South Dakota. Those early years really helped with his responsibilities now. "Working in different areas of the facility when I was younger helped my transition and general knowledge of the industry. I like to bring new ideas into the business now to try and help streamline the operation...I want to respond to my customers in a timely fashion and make sure they are happy."
Keaton is a big sports fan and stays very active by playing basketball and golf throughout the year. This has helped him in his position at T&R. "Sports is a great way to meet people and that has really helped with my transition into sales. It's made me a better communicator for sure."
Keaton has seen plenty of growth since he was a kid. But one thing has never changed. "I knew at a very early age that T&R was going to be part of my future plans."
Kelly McMahon (Purchasing)
Kelly has been working for T&R since 1978. He started off mowing the property and washing trucks. After several other responsibilities along the way, he became Purchasing Manager in 1989. He oversees purchases on everything that comes into the yard, 20,000 units per year. "I can do this job in my sleep, it's what I do. I had a great teacher in Jim Thompson. He taught me everything I know about the business."
Kelly has 2 kids-Lindsey who's married and Jesse. He loves being a grandfather to Lucy who lives in nearby Volga. Baseball is his passion and he enjoys going on trips to various Major League ballparks with Jesse to see the Twins play. He also plays golf once or twice a week which is handy, since he lives on the 7th hole at Sunrise Ridge GC.
Kelly takes great pride in the growth of T&R Electric. "I remember as a kid when it was located on Main St. before the fire. It blows my mind to see how big our operation is now. It's unreal the reaction we get from customers when they come to Colman and see how massive it is."
Kelly is another of the life-time employees at T&R and for good reason. "It's a fun place to come to work at. There's always something different happening each day. The people I work with are a very close-knit bunch. There's no question that it really affects the quality of the product we provide. You're more apt to work as a team when you get along great."
Kylie Westover (Sales)
Kylie is another member of our sales staff that grew up in the business by working at T&R part-time in high school and also by observing her family's involvement in the business. "I observed daily operation in mechanics, loading/unloading, the lab and the call center over the years. But there were no better teachers than learning the business from my dad and grandpa..."
Her extensive knowledge of the transformer world gained by growing up around the business is a great benefit to her customers. Kylie attended Dakota State where she had a standout basketball career. She enjoys the team feeling she gets at work every day. "It's much like athletics where you are working together for a common goal of success."
Her love of basketball has carried over into coaching and teaching the game to the next generation of Colman-Egan Hawks. Kylie plays in a recreation league with former college basketball players. "I'm still pretty competitive, so that is a great way for me still compete and it's also a form of stress relief and therapy." The same applies to golf. Kylie also enjoys hanging out with her dog, Finley.
Kylie is right where she always wanted to be. "I always knew I wanted to make a career in working at the family business."
Sara Schmidt (Sales)
Sara started working in the call center in 2016 for T&R and it inspired her to move into the sales team full-time two years later where she's enjoyed contact with the customers. "The transition into sales came naturally as I learned from making phone calls what demands were out there, what customers expected from their salesperson and how I could be the person to help meet their needs."
Sara was a bartender before starting at T&R. While in that role, she learned to be a great listener. "That is really important for a sales person."
Sara has 2 daughters, Addison and Kynzie that keep her very busy. As a family, they enjoy being outdoors-swimming, lake days, bonfires, parks, snowmobiling and going to the races. The girls run from dance to gymnastics to soccer. She's glad to have grandpa nearby to help!
As a busy mom, she really appreciates working for a family-owned company. "They are amazing! Everyone is really helpful and that is definitely not the norm." And she really enjoys her job. "Every day is different which keeps me on my toes. T&R is a great place to work for so many reasons."
Tommy McGuire (Sales)
Tommy has been in sales for T&R since January of 2018 but has a long history with the company dating back to October of 2004 when he started working part time in the junking department while attending Dakota State University. After college, he started working full time in Three Phase Pad repair from 2006 until he started working in sales. He now uses production knowledge to help meet the needs of customers all over the country but, "primarily in the southeastern states."
Tommy says one thing has been consistent throughout his years at T&R. "It's a good working environment. Everyone is willing to help everybody to get the job done that needs to be done."
Outside of work, Tommy is busy with his wife Alyssa and his two daughters, Olivia and Emma. He enjoys hanging out with family and friends, cheering on the 49ers and Wolverines, golfing and fishing area lakes with his dad.
Tommy says the best thing about working for T&R is that, "It's a nice family-oriented company. If you have family activities or a family emergency, they want you to make sure that your life is under control and taken care of first and then worry about work second."
Trevor Jacobsen (Sales)
Trevor started in the sales department at T&R in August 2021. He attended SDSU where he began working for Daktronics as a student. He worked there for five years as an account manager, which he says really helped to develop his communication skills that are vital in his current sales role.
"I love working at T&R. The great leadership and employees at T&R have really helped me be successful in my position. It's easy to work for a company and product you believe in. It's a great family atmosphere where everyone is willing to help if needed."
Trevor and his wife Helen live in Sioux Falls with their dog Remi. Helen works at Avera as a labor and delivery nurse. When Trevor isn't working, he enjoys playing golf and basketball. He is an avid video gamer and watches a lot of sports. He especially loves hanging out with his family and friends.
Wes Heimstra (Sales)
Wes started with T&R in 2013. The Longmont, CO native played college football at Dakota State and has made this his home ever since. The fact that his grandparents have a place on Lake Madison made it a great place to settle down.
Being a former college athlete makes a big difference in how Wes approaches his job in sales. "It drives me to sell the most products I can. It's great to work for a leader in the industry. They continue to invest in the operation which makes it easier for me in sales. If you have confidence in the product, it sure makes the job a lot easier."
When he's not working, Wes is an avid golfer. In fact, the T&R team won the summer league at Madison CC in 2017. "I love to still compete and we have others in the office that are the same way." Wes occasionally gets back to Colorado where he enjoys snowboarding. He also enjoys working out and playing with Mikah, his 6-year-old Australian Shepard. Wes is engaged to Paula Kappenman. They met in college and have been together ever since.
Wes is one of the rare employees who isn't local, but he's quickly embraced what makes T&R unique. "It's the family atmosphere. We have great bosses who really take care of their employees. It's a really good place to work!"
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