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As of: 4:40 AM, 4/25/24

A Family Affair

Reece Dryer is thankful that his dad took the time, no matter how busy he was being a lineworker, to teach him how to fish, hit a baseball and snowboard as a young child.

He idolized him so much that he wanted to be just like him. He has a photo of when he was five and dressed up in his dad’s Consumers Energy gear. It was a sign of things to come.

Jef Dryer, also fondly remembers those days not so long ago. He cherishes them. And he considers himself the luckiest dad on the planet because he gets to continue teaching his son almost 16 years later.

Reece and Jef often work on the same crew in the Muskegon area.  It’s there where Reece, an apprentice, is cutting his teeth and learning some valuable lessons from Jef, a lineworker in charge.

“I love this job, it’s given me an opportunity for growth,” said Jef, “It’s where I met my wife, and it helped us raise our family. And to have my son join me, it’s not only topped off my career. It’s topped off my life.”

And Reece, who has been with the company for about a year, said he couldn’t ask for a better mentor to show him the ropes – or lines in his case.

“A lot of people couldn’t do it,” he said about working with his dad. “But we’ve always had a really good relationship. And it carried over to work. It’s awesome to learn from him. I’m taking in as much knowledge as I can from him.”

Family Legacy

But the two haven’t gone through the Consumers Energy experience alone. They have even more family members who’ve shared in what’s become part of the family’s legacy.

It all started with Bev Woltman – a retiree, and Jef’s mom, who started in 1980 in Midland and spent 37 years with the company, including being an executive assistant to many long-time leaders.

“My mom always said, ‘make good decisions working at Consumers Energy and you’ll be set for the rest of your life,’” Jef said. “And I passed that advice on to Reece. My mother spent her whole career here, and I hope we get that same opportunity by doing things the right way.”

Bev, who has been retired for nearly a decade and whose husband and Jef’s stepfather, Roger Woltman worked for Consumers Energy for more than 30 years at the J.H. Campbell Complex, said she is proud of her time spent at the energy provider and made life-long friends.

two consumer energy workers And now she passes the torch to her son and grandson.  Jef started with the company in 2000 as a coal supply operator at the Campbell plant. He joined the lineworker team in 2006.

He credits his mom for instilling in him values and a strong work ethic.

“Jef is so incredibly proud of Reece,” Woltman said. “Jef has a passion for work and life in general, and he’s passing it on to his son. It’s heartwarming to see as a mother and grandmother.”

In 2018, Jamie Dryer joined the family when she married Jef.

Jamie started with the company in 2005 as a meter reader. What she initially thought would be just a job, has turned into a career for her. And she couldn’t be happier.

‘In Our Blood’

“Consumers Energy is in our blood,” said Jamie, who in a past role with Consumers Energy, drove a semi-trailer delivering tools to store-rooms around the state. “Consumers Energy is a great place to work. We have great benefits and what makes me happy is meeting life-long friends here.”

Work is often the topic of conversation when the family gets together, said Jamie, now a lead substation operator in Muskegon.

“Whether it’s a weekend get-together, holiday dinner or a vacation – I don’t think there’s a time we get together that work isn’t discussed,” she said with a laugh. “Somebody usually has to speak up and say ‘no more work talk.’”

child with a hard hat onGreat Opportunities

Consumers Energy has led to great opportunities for the family to live a comfortable life.

“When Reece went to train to be a lineworker he stayed in a trailer for 11 weeks to get the training he needed to be an apprentice,” she said. “And it’s paid off for him.”

Reece said he’s grateful for the family members who worked at Consumers Energy before him.

“I would love for my future children and grandchildren to work here one day, maybe even as lineworkers,” he said with a laugh.

The person who started it all can relate to her grandson. She’s also anxious to see what’s next.

“Our family has shown that you can have a really great life working at Consumer Energy,” said Bev Woltman. “And if we are lucky enough that it’s passed down to another generation or two, that would be great.”