Five Questions With Rusty Hartman

Mark Derowitsch, Communications

July 02, 2019

Power delivery (PD) wasn’t always a passion for Rusty Hartman. As he was looking for a job coming out of the University of Missouri, Rusty realized the PD industry was flush with an aging workforce and not many to backfill those positions. He saw the opportunity for growth and capturing that knowledge as people exited, so he took that leap.  

Fast forward about a decade and Rusty is now an expert in the area of PD. He joined Olsson in 2018 and is a team leader for our PD team. He’s based in Joplin, Missouri. When he’s not working (which is not often), you’re likely to find Rusty at his farm playing with his heavy equipment. “Who doesn’t like to push a big pile of dirt around from time to time?” he says.

We caught up with Rusty and asked him five questions about his role, the industry, and what it’s like working with his team at Olsson. Here’s what he had to say.

Q: What sparked your interest in working with power delivery?

Rusty: When I started, what I knew about substations was the fact that there was a transformer inside the fence and you didn’t touch anything inside! I’ve learned a lot more since then. What I really like about PD is that the market changes every day. There’s always something new every day. Our team really cares about how we can deliver solutions for the client in an ever-changing market – that’s the biggest thing for me.

Q: You left engineering at one point. Why is that?

Rusty: I tend to march to the beat of my own drum, but I’m highly motivated and am a big self-starter. People tell me to slow down, take a break, and quite honestly, I’m not good at that. When there’s something that needs to be done for our clients, I don’t rest until we have a good solution in place.

Q: You were operating your own diesel shop before you joined Olsson. Why did you make the switch back to engineering?

Rusty: Olsson had the family atmosphere I had at my first position with a utility provider. There are multiple opportunities in PD and I was looking for a family-like situation and that’s what Olsson feels like to me. I’ll give you a good example of this. We had a birthday party for someone in the office a while back on the weekend, and when I walked in about 80 percent of the Joplin office was there. That kind of dedication and family atmosphere makes me want to go to work every day.

Q: What’s your biggest challenge as a team leader for a power delivery team?

Rusty: Time management as a whole. We need to make sure our clients are taken care of and we need to do it with passion. I pride myself on delivering a personal touch to each client, and that can become daunting because our geographic footprint is so large and diverse. I am constantly challenging my team to make personal touches with each client, whether it’s with a phone call, an email, or an office visit. We make sure we take care of our clients by knowing what they’re dealing with at any given time.  

Q: How is the industry changing and what is Olsson doing to keep up with the changes?

Rusty: To be honest, from our standpoint there’s a talent void in the sector. PD is one of the most sought-after talent pools in engineering today because people who are coming out of college don’t really know much about it or have the desire to go into PD. What really reels candidates in is the fact that we are the ones that keep the lights on day in and day out. People may not consider this the sexiest industry, for lack of a better term, but when you work in PD and you go home at night and flip the light switch, you get a sense of satisfaction because you helped make it happen.

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