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President/CEO Don Crabbe Retires

President/CEO Don Crabbe Retires

Posted on March 29th, 2023

From Your Board Chairman, Rick Love

I’ve been fortunate to have worked with some outstanding individuals in the world of electric utilities, but none finer than your now-retired President/CEO Don Crabbe. Don is considered by your board and his peers to be a titan in the industry. With his faith guiding him, Don is always about doing the right thing. In his role as CEO, his personal mantra was, “Is it the right thing - and is it good for our members?” His attributes may be best described in Galatians where the fruits of the Spirit are listed: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control.

Don’s career spans over 47 years, beginning in the rural electrification program in 1976, when he served on the staff of Cotton Electric Cooperative until 1984. He was then hired as the Director of Cooperative Services for the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives. In 1991, he was named CEO of Central Rural Electric Cooperative, where he remained until his move to Arkansas in 2005, when he was named President/CEO of First Electric.

Our safety program is a large part of Don’s legacy. Upon his arrival, he found plenty of room for improvement. Don made safety his immediate priority for all workers. He transformed the existing safety program into one of the best in the country by providing employees with the best Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), creating weekly and monthly safety meetings and requiring signed Commitment to Safety contracts from every employee.

Don is well known for his frugality, for which he has endured a lot of ribbing. He’s famous with the employees, when budgeting, for asking, “Is it handy — or is it necessary?” But, because of his stewardship and attention to the financial strength of your co-op, you have enjoyed some of the highest capital credit distributions ever. Don’s debt management achieved the best interest rates, discounts, terms and conditions our co-op has experienced.

First Electric has almost 240 employees, and Don always did his very best to get to know and interact with all of them. Dedication to family is a priority for Don, and he constantly sought to maximize the time his employees were able to spend with their own families — something that is not often prevalent within many large organizations.

Due to Don’s leadership, the future for First Electric is well-positioned with great employees, a well-maintained and reliable system and a very competitive rate structure. We now have state-of-the-art heavy equipment and communications systems, and we’re nearing the second half of distribution of high speed internet via fiber-optics to the homes of all members who request the service. Don has served with absolute fealty, working tirelessly to “improve the quality of life” for our members. We’re excited for the future as we begin the next chapter in leadership at First Electric.

If you do see Don at a local sporting event or just around town, give him a handshake, and tell him thank you! He’s been an amazing leader and friend to the employees, retirees, the board and members of the cooperative. Don, we are going to miss you greatly. Godspeed.

Rick Love

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