Co-op CEO has worn many hats
Dave Lewallen, CEO at Marshall County REMC, wore many hats in his 16 years at the cooperative before assuming the role as its president/CEO on Jan. 1, 2021.
Those hats served him well in preparation for taking the helm of the 6,200-consumer northern Indiana electric distribution cooperative. Lewallen oversees 19 employees.
When something new came along, it seemed Lewallen either volunteered or was assigned to help tackle it. His wide array of experiences include:
Lewallen’s greatest attribute in his numerous roles, however, has always been what’s under those hats. “I think I’m a ‘people person.’ I’m very conscious of people and empathetic to their needs and wants, and I feel I have kind of a natural knack at working through issues.”
That genuine empathy and concern and ability to communicate and connect with consumers and coworkers did not go unnoticed. When the previous CEO announced his upcoming retirement, the board of directors came to Lewallen first about the position.
“The board actually approached me,” Lewallen says. “They had been talking with the previous CEO as he neared retirement.” From conversations with him, cooperative staff and consumers, the board kept hearing Lewallen, a Marshall County native, would be a good fit.
Lewallen was the only one who seemed uncertain. “To be honest, when they first approached me about it, I considered turning it down. I felt I wasn’t deserving or ready for it. But now I’m glad I accepted; turning it down would have been a mistake.”
Lewallen was a business major in college, but focused on the creative, marketing/communication aspects. He says he sees his job now as marketing and communicating his and the board’s visions with staff and consumers to continue moving the cooperative forward.
“I’ve dabbled or been allowed to dabble in and understand enough of the business wearing these different hats. I’ve gotten a pretty broad understanding of all the departments and what they do. I am able to understand and communicate how it all comes together.”