Hello, my name is Andy Pursell. I am founder of itsinourblood.com and I am a Journeyman Lineman in Florida. I’ve been in the trade for about fourteen years and what a blessing it has been! Not only the money but the career I’ve built. I was born and raised in the small town of Arcadia, Florida where mainly you see cow pastures and orange groves. The town didn’t have many jobs to offer. Most people would commute at least thirty minutes to an hour to work every day. As for me, during school I worked for my family’s business. They have a twenty-four hour towing service. That is where I think I got my work ethic from. Working all hours of the night for vehicle accidents and changing tires.
When I graduated high school, I worked a couple of months for the family business. But I needed something more…I needed a job I could make a career out of. College was an option, but I really didn’t want to go back to school. A friend of mine I went to high school with, his mom worked for the utility company. She told me a lot about the work the linemen did and how much you could make as one. I thought it was very interesting so I got the utilities phone number and called it every Saturday for a couple of months. I actually memorized it because I called it so much! But I guess at the time they were only hiring in house, so I never got feedback.
The other alternative I had to be in linework was to become a contractor. Coming from a small town where everybody knows everybody, I had an older friend that worked for a contractor that had a contract with a Co-op about an hour away from town. He said he would see if they were hiring and he would call me. Well he called me a couple of days later and told me to drive down to the yard and fill out an application. I figured at that time if I wanted to get into a utility I could become a contractor to get my foot in the door. So I drove down the next day and walked into the office. I met the General Foreman of the yard. He gave me the time and opportunity that most in his position would not. I ended up looking at him as my idol. I remember that he told me how hard and dangerous this line of work is while I was filling out the application. Well, I wasn’t scared and knew by now that this is what I wanted so I would do whatever it was going to take get it.
I had to take a drug test and get my Commercial Driver’s Permit. I started two weeks later on October 19th, 1998. I remember being 18 and nervous as this was truly my first job outside the family business. I started out with an underground service crew that can make or break a man in this business. If a guy couldn’t handle being on this crew, they said they didn’t need you. I was thinking to myself, “How hard can this be?” Let me tell you, the first couple of months are like boot camp! I remember the foreman stepping on my boots telling me I needed steel toed boots. He also wanted me to wear a green t-shirt with a pocket. The pocket for my electrical tape and the color green so that everyone would know I was “green”. He also forced me to make a habit of carrying a pair of Kleins and a bug wrench in my back pocket at all times. I didn’t talk back—I just did it.
We worked daylight to dark for five days a week and I ended up losing about 19 pounds the first couple of months. Man it was hard work, but I stuck it out. I moved from underground crew to an overhead distribution crew building power lines all over the place. Our crew became one of the top producing crews in the yard. I know it was hard coming up but I’m glad I did it. I definitely appreciate it now.
Since then I graduated my apprenticeship program in 2001 and have done just about everything in linework from distribution to transmission. As of now I am a troubleman for the utility company and I’m still learning every day. I think some words of wisdom to up and coming linehands are to give 110% and it will pay off in the long run.