The Treating Division of Texas Electric
Cooperatives is headquartered in Jasper County, deep
in the East Texas piney woods.
Established in 1946, the Treating Division
turns out over 125,000 power poles annually.
Division Manager Charlie Faulds supervises
about 70 employees at the treatment plant,
which sits on 50 acres just east of
Jasper. The division also owns almost 4,000
acres of timberland in Louisiana.
How a tree (almost always a Southern yellow
pine from Louisiana) becomes a power pole
in a process that typically takes one to
two weeks is a walk through the departmental
organization of the Treating Division:
Procurement: TEC's professional foresters
go into the woods and select the right trees,
visually inspecting for straightness, height,
knots, scars and any other defects or diseases.
Self-employed contractors harvest and haul
the trees to the pole plant in Jasper.
Peeling: Once at the treatment plant, a tree goes
through the peeler, where its bark is removed.
The pole is then cut to length and judged for quality.
Afterward, it is "gained and framed," meaning a
flat place is cut near the top for a crosspiece
and the pole is drilled with holes for subsequent
attachment of hardware.
Treating: A two-step process ensures poles with the highest standards of preservation for long-term service. First a pole is conditioned inside a pressurized cylinder with steam to disinfect it and enlarge the wood cells; water is then removed with a vacuum. Second, the pole is put into another pressurized cylinder where its wood cells are deeply penetrated with preserving creosote. Independent inspectors employed by an outside firm inspect and approve the treated pole.
Distribution: Poles are inventoried, stored and then shipped to Texas co-ops near and far.
From towering tree to final treated pole, one principle is constant in TEC's Treatment Division: quality assurance. Poles are shipped by the hundreds and thousands, but each pole carries the individual mark of first-rate craftsmanship.