PLYMOUTH – Brian Francis decided to change course.

For some 20 years, Brian owned his own construction business, building custom homes in ski areas for people who lived out of state. It was good, even fine, and he enjoyed success with it. And yet.

“I got a little bit older and wanted something a little more fulfilling. I’ve lived here my whole life. I didn’t feel like I was helping my community out,” said Brian, who is raising his family in Plymouth.

While considering other employment options, including police work, Brian also talked to friends and people he knew who worked at the Co-op.

Brian Francis with NHEC Scholarship Certificate

They all thought line work would be a good fit, a good job.

“I’d be fulfilling my desire to help take care of my neighbors and friends in the community,” said Brian, whose two sons, Ryder, 15, and Brody, 11, now attend Plymouth Regional High School and Plymouth Elementary School.

Last August Brian, who had received a scholarship from the Co-op to help defray some of the line school costs, graduated. Timing was on his side: the Co-op was hiring and straightaway, he applied. An apprentice line worker since October, he’s not looking back.

“It feels good to be one of the guys out in a storm when the power goes out to get the lines back up and get the power back on,” he said.

Anyone in line work will tell you, it’s a lifestyle. “Our family is familiar with the concept of being on call or missing a birthday party,” Brian said, explaining that his wife, Ashley, is a nurse practitioner and she covers calls for Speare Memorial Hospital.

Brian Francis, Apprentice Lineworker

Working for himself, his schedule had flexibility and was not weather dependent. “I didn’t miss a single game or family events,” he said. “I knew what I was getting into with line work and we’re at peace with that. We’re all on board.”

Still, it didn’t make it any easier missing his sons’ end of the season hockey tournament in Marlboro, Mass. But like the rest of our crews, Brian was working the lines when the major snow, wind and rainstorm of March 23, hit New Hampshire and several districts throughout the Co-op’s service areas.

Six months in, he remembers a midnight outage call that happened during the first month of his apprenticeship following a day’s work that had ended around 8p.m. A broken pole was down in the woods. Howling wind and temperature nearing 20 degrees. He had three pole climbs that night, his hardhat with a headband light as his guide. The crew worked through the night setting a new pole, finishing up at dawn.

“I had kind of a moment walking through the woods in the dark, with the snow, and the wind and the cold. I had this moment of feeling okay with that,” he said.