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Touchstone Energy Cooperatives

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Inspiration From Our 2016 Brand Champions

Published On: May 17, 2016


On May 11 Touchstone Energy Cooperatives COO Mary McLaury (Center) named (L to R) Terri Bakken, Minnesota Valley Electric Cooperative; Nanci McMaken, Pioneer Electric Cooperative, OH; Shawn Powelson, Wheatland Electric Cooperative, KS and Linda King, Northwestern REC, PA its 2016 Brand Champions. We asked them to share their thoughts about the difference Touchstone Energy resources make for their co-ops, and after reading their remarks, we’re sure you’ll understand why they were recognized for their extraordinary support of the network. 

Linda King’s co-op earned the highest member engagement index in the country, and she said, “I was here when “The Brand” was born. It has made our “Co-op Nation” stronger by providing the leadership and messaging for us all to speak with one voice. I can tell you with certainty, without Touchstone Energy providing the leadership and ability for us to speak with one voice through many issues over the last 18 years, our jobs would have been much harder and our messaging would have been disjointed. For those new to the cooperative world whom I have heard sometimes asking, “Why do we have a brand?” or “What is the purpose of Touchstone Energy?” for me it is simple. WE are the brand.

“In the last ten years of my 28-year career at the co-op, we have gone from communicating with members through two main channels–our monthly magazine and bill inserts–to those channels plus IVR messaging, text messaging, push notifications, websites, emails, postcards, app development and more. The electric business has become much more dynamic and exciting than it was in the 1980s for certain. Touchstone Energy has helped Northwestern REC, in particular our department, continue to produce high-quality, effective programs and messaging for our members as we continue to wear more and more hats.

Terri Bakken has implemented the Balanced Performance Scorecard to track organizational strategies, the Co-op Connections Card program to connect members to local businesses and the Service Excellence training program to enhance MVEC employees’ skills. She said, “The resources Touchstone Energy offers cooperatives is greatly appreciated and allows us to succeed in delivering a positive and influential member service experience. Listening to member needs is extremely important, but being able to deliver beneficial programs and services to meet their needs strikes the right balance and helps to build both a strong cooperative and member relationships.

Nanci McMaken said, “I was truly surprised by the nomination and selection, and I feel honored. The Touchstone Energy branding has proven over the years to be a great idea, resource and effort. The energy within the Touchstone Energy brand, and among those who embrace it, is very contagious!” Nanci received this award for transforming Pioneer EC’s brand from a Conestoga wagon, to a modern, progressive, high-tech utility using Touchstone Energy resources as the catalyst for the co-op’s evolution.

Shawn Powelson refreshed his co-op’s digital presence through Touchstone Energy’s Co-op Web Builder program and was the first to bring the Touchstone Energy Hot Air Balloon to his state. He said, “It is certainly an honor to receive an individual award, and I appreciate those that nominated and selected me for this award.  However, as all of us know, very few things happen in the co-op world as the result of one person’s efforts. I work for a great co-op and have been able to put together a great team over the last couple of years, so really it’s an award for all of us. I love working for a co-op, and I’m fortunate to work with a lot of great folks across Kansas and really, the country. Thank you to everyone at Touchstone Energy for all of the great tools, resources and support they provide. We’re all one big team, and I’m fortunate to be a part of it!

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