Wind power offers new opportunities in West Texas
The second time Scott Creech got laid off from a manufacturing job, something had to change. He had kids in high school and a family to take care of, and his previous line of work just wasn’t cutting it anymore.
“That industry just kept dying for 20 years,” Scott said. “I was chasing jobs around.”
I recently spoke with Scott, who is coming up on 12 years working in the wind industry. Today he is a Facility Manager at Pattern Energy’s Panhandle Wind and Panhandle Wind II wind farms in West Texas, and the career change has meant a lot to Scott and his family.
Cotton gins and a “little bitty town”
Scott grew up in Stanton, Texas, in what he calls a “little bitty town” dominated by the cotton gin industry. After working with cotton gins for a short time, Scott said he “wised up” and went to school. At Texas A&M he earned an engineering degree, and worked for the next 20 years as an industrial engineer.
While Scott loved the work, it wasn’t without its challenges.
After one layoff, he faced a six hour commute to a new job, unwilling to move so his kids wouldn’t have to change schools. Then, when he was working in a management position for a contractor in Lubbock, Texas that built weldments for Caterpillar, the factory closed. Scott was out of a job again.
Moving into the wind business
That prompted Scott to visit a wind farm under construction near his home.
“I had to take a step back from the white shirt and tie and start turning wrenches again,” he said. But the move allowed him to “take a big step forward in the wind business.”
Since entering wind, Scott has worked in site management, wind farm construction and operations and maintenance. Building new projects has been his favorite part.
“The construction part was really fun,” he told me. “It’s a whole lot like manufacturing, except our assembly line is moving across the country instead of staying inside factory walls.”
Scott’s wind career has been important for both his family and others throughout his community.
“Anytime you can help create jobs, help people make a living for their family, it’s always a good feeling,” he said. “When you’re faced with unemployment, or having a job, it’s a great blessing.”
“I open my office door and I see 15 guys with good, safe jobs where they can make a good, honest, living, and these are jobs that weren’t there before,” Scott said.
In small town West Texas, that means a lot.
“The wind industry has created at least 70 good permanent jobs out here in this rural part of the Texas Panhandle, where there’s not a whole lot of opportunity, and that’s a big deal,” he noted.
Scott also thought wind energy fits in with Texas culture just fine.
“We like to see things move and grow out here,” he said. “That’s the Texas mentality.”