Bob Grant is a prime representative of a cooperative director and one of the four cooperative core values – commitment to community.
Bob has been involved with many community organizations and boards for most of his adult life, but it is his involvement within the electric cooperative world that has kept him busy the past 37 years.
He and his wife, Helen, have farmed in Mountrail County since the 1970s and are members of Mountrail-Williams Electric Cooperative (MWEC). Bob is also a director for Mountrail-Williams Electric Cooperative.
Through all of his volunteering in the community, many know Bob and appreciate that he is willing to help when needed. Prior to his community involvement, it was actually his wife that was well-known. “All the local parts guys didn’t know who I was; they knew who Helen was,” Bob says with a giggle, because he spent most of his time in the field while Helen drove for the needed parts.
Bob is the only current board member who was also part of the Mountrail Electric Cooperative and Williams Electric Cooperative merger in 1991. He had been a board member for Mountrail Electric Cooperative for almost 10 years when the merger was completed.
“Both co-ops were doing OK on their own, but they knew something had to be done for the future,” Bob recalled about the merger. The board members could see changes beginning in rural North Dakota and were able to come together to benefit all of their members. Both co-ops had seen a boom and bust. They knew it was only a matter of time before something happened again.
After the merger, the two boards consolidated the director spots from 18 down to nine. Bob lost his seat, but was encouraged to run again. He knew he had to continue to be a voice for his neighbors and all co-op members. Since regaining his director position, he has become the vice chairperson for MWEC and has been a representative for the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives (NDAREC) since 1998. In 2008, he became president of NDAREC and was recently re-elected to continue his representation of all co-op members and employees in North Dakota.
Bob has seen many changes occurring in North Dakota as well as the co-op world.
“We were talking with oil companies around 2005 in regard to what they were planning. We thought they were crazy with what they were telling us, until it happened,” Bob said with an amused look. MWEC has seen substantial growth during the past 10 years due to the oil industry. The cooperative has seen its primary membership shift from residential/agricultural to industrial/commercial. The growth has increased MWEC’s membership numbers, miles of line, meters and employees, as well as the need for directors who understand a cooperative and what the future forecasts.
Today, Bob continues to be involved with farming. He and Helen enjoy spending as much time as possible with their children, Rob (Kristin), Garry (Lori), Rebecca (Byron), and Adam (Kimberly) and, of course, their grandchildren, Abigail, MacKenzie, Mason, Marcus, Tenleigh, Jess and Jenna, with another grandchild expected in May.
This month, North Dakota Living shares some family recipes that are a few of Bob’s favorites.
Jessica George is the public relations and communications coordinator for Mountrail-Williams Electric Cooperative.