New Holstein, Wisconsin
Kiwanis Park is one of several beautiful public parks in New Holstein.
New Holstein’s motto, “Linked to the Past, Focused on the Future,” is fitting. The city was founded in 1848 by immigrants from Holstein, Germany, a region that was created as a county of the Holy Roman Empire in 1111.
The modern-day New Holstein is a tight-knit community of just over 3,200. With plenty of parks, a good education system and low crime rate, the city has started to attract a younger demographic. It provides residents with the perks of small-town living, while located just 30-60 minutes from larger communities, such as Appleton, Fond du Lac, Sheboygan, Manitowoc and Green Bay.
New Holstein Utilities (NHU) is a locally owned, not-for-profit utility that provides customers in the New Holstein area with electric, water, water softening and wastewater services.
The NHU team — led by General Manager Randy Jaeckels and directed by a five-person utilities commission — strives to provide economically priced, reliable services, as well as an excellent customer experience.
“We ask our employees, no matter what their job is, to do it every day with excellent customer service in mind. It doesn’t matter if you’re a lineman, a water technician or one of our office staff; it’s important to try to do the best that you possibly can for the customer,” says Jaeckels.
A Partner for Local Businesses
One of the ways NHU provides excellent service to its local business customers is through the work of Energy Services Representative Frank Barth.
Barth provides individualized support to some of NHU’s larger business customers, including Metko Inc., Buechel Stone Corp., A-1 Polishing and Finishing Inc., M-B Companies Inc. and Ameriquip Corporation. He performs strategic energy assessments to help them identify opportunities to save energy and money, connects them with utility and state programs and helps plan and execute projects to optimize their electrical usage.
“It’s important to help keep our businesses healthy so they can be competitive in their respective markets, keep producing product and want to expand in the community,” says Jaeckels.
NHU and the Community
Commitment to the community is a hallmark of public power that Jaeckels says comes naturally to the NHU team.
“We have a lot of people at the utility who just naturally want to help people. I don’t have to talk to the employees about the importance of being a part of the community; they just really care about the community and want to see it succeed.”
About two-thirds of the utility’s employees live in the community, and many of them regularly volunteer through groups such as the Lions Club, Kiwanis, church groups, the Chamber of Commerce, and the New Holstein Economic Development Corporation.
The H.C. Timm House, built in 1873, belonged to Hermann Christian Timm, the first president of New Holstein, his wife Augusta (Muenster) Timm and their seven children. It remained in the family until 1974.
NHU and WPPI
NHU was a founding member of WPPI Energy in 1980 and NHU employees have been active with the organization ever since.
“WPPI Energy provides such good value to the membership,” says Jaeckels. “It’s nice to have a dedicated team working to make sure our power supply is reliable and cost-effective. Also, the programs and services WPPI Energy offers are tremendous.”
Being a member also gives NHU access to the knowledge and support of 50 peer utilities.
“There is not a week that goes by when NHU employees don’t have some kind of contact with another WPPI Energy member,” says Jaeckels.
The New Holstein Utilities Commission shares Jaeckels’ enthusiasm for WPPI Energy. In 2015, the WPPI Energy Board of Directors asked members to extend the terms of their long term, all-requirements power supply contracts.
Jaeckels remembers “having some preliminary conversation” on the subject during a WPPI Energy Executive Committee meeting.
Upon returning to NHU, Jaeckels says he “just mentioned it to the commissioners so we could discuss and see where they were at…well, they were so eager to act we included the extension as an action item on the next month’s meeting agenda,” he says.
“They wanted to be one of the first to approve the contract extension, and actually ended up doing so before WPPI Energy had made a formal request. The commission sees a lot of value in what WPPI Energy provides,” he says.
The Future of the Electric Industry
Jaeckels believes the electric industry can provide “a lot of good opportunities” for people entering the job market, and encourages them to re-think any stereotypes they might have.
“Some people think working in the electric industry must be boring. I’ve been in this industry for almost 34 years, and it’s been far from boring; it’s ever-changing, challenging and rewarding. I’ve seen a lot of technological advancements change what we can do for customers,” he says.
He also believes people with a variety of skill sets can thrive in the industry.
“Just because you didn’t come from a lineworker program doesn’t mean that there isn’t work for you. What we really need are bright, young people who are willing to learn and who will continue to move public power forward in the future.”