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Co-op Family Leans on Network

August 8, 2016

What started out as a theme in Texas Electric Cooperative President/CEO Mike Williams' address to hundreds of co-op leaders became a refrain that echoed among speakers for four days: Electric cooperatives form a family that can accomplish more when its members work together.

"We are connected to a very large, vast, powerful cooperative network," he said in his opening remarks. "I don't care how small you are: You're part of a powerful family."

Co-op directors, general managers, and staff from related organizations and vendors, along with other members of the cooperative family—736 participants total—gathered July 31–August 3 in San Antonio for education and training opportunities and to participate in the business of the statewide association at TEC's 76th Annual Meeting.

The conference leveraged the power of TEC's members to host industry experts in cybersecurity, finance and national cooperative organizations to enrich the knowledge of attendees.

"In many cases, we don't see a lot of you throughout the year, so this is the one chance that we have to come together," Williams said.

He emphasized the association's "just say yes" philosophy toward helping cooperatives throughout the state accomplish their goals. TEC offers support by helping co-ops communicate more effectively across diverse member demographics, providing increasingly customizable training opportunities for employees, and focusing on adding efficiency and flexibility into supply-chain operations.

Williams acknowledged advancing consumer technologies such as battery storage that threaten co-ops' market shares, bottom lines and the traditional pipeline business model. At the least, co-op leaders should be aware of the possible co-op applications of the emerging platform model, used among technology giants.

Through changing times, TEC aims to continue spreading the great ideas of individual members to the rest of the membership as part of that family spirit.

"If you come to us with an issue," Williams said, "our initial reaction, I hope in every case, is to say, 'Yes, we can do that.' But then our next reaction is to say, 'If we can do it for you, can we do it for the rest of the family?' "

View photos from the TEC Annual Meeting on Flickr.