A Career Committed to Members

A Career Committed to Members
By Steve Foss, CEO

As CEO, I spend a lot of time building relationships and it is one of the best parts of my job. I’m blessed to lead FreeState Electric Cooperative where we are a big family, and a team of individuals who wholeheartedly believe we work for each of you. Many of the folks at your cooperative have spent years powering your lives and have built long, successful careers in the electric cooperative industry. 

Randy Richards, an assistant general manager, is one of those people.

With a great deal of gratitude for his 39 years of service, I share that on Jan. 3, Richards officially retired from the cooperative. 

To say I am incredibly grateful for his many accomplishments and leadership is an understatement. Richards has been committed to the cooperative’s mission, vision and values since 1980 with Kaw Valley Electric Cooperative and extended that knowledge and dedication to the cooperative after the consolidation created FreeState. 

As he moves on from the role of assistant general manager, Richards remains a mentor and friend to many of his colleagues in Topeka and McLouth, as well as the cooperative industry, his community of Silver Lake and beyond. 

Richards spent most of his life serving our members in some capacity. He started his career as an apprentice lineman with Kaw Valley in 1980 after graduating from Manhattan Technical College, and in 1982 became a journeyman lineman. 

In 1989, he was promoted to the director of purchasing, inventory and safety. In 1999 Richards completed the NRECA Loss Control Internship Program earning his Certified Loss Control Professional (CLCP) certification and a promotion to manager of safety and material management. In 2014, he was promoted again to manager of safety, compliance and resources, and following the consolidation vote in April 2016 he was named assistant general manager where he oversaw the engineering, operations, safety, compliance and resources departments.

To say Richards will be missed is an understatement. 

From the time I met him in 2014, Richards embraced the concept of change, always open to new opportunities benefiting members and employees. His knowledge and career path made his perspective a unique one and has been valuable to not only me, but each of our employees. Joining the executive team in 2016, Richards pushed us to continually adapt to meet the most pressing needs of the cooperative members. He has been an inspiring change maker and one we are honored to have worked with on your behalf. 

While we thank Richards for the years of service and leadership in advancing the cooperative’s mission, and for forging strong, trusting relationships with our partners, we also want to thank his family for sharing him with us for all these years. His wife, Kathy, and daughters Danielle, Megan and Randi, have sacrificed time with their husband and father so he could spend time working to power your lives for so long. He’ll be giving back some of that time in retirement, and we couldn’t be more excited for the entire Richards family. 

Cheers to your well-earned retirement. What you have brought to the members, staff and trustees of both Kaw Valley and FreeState electric cooperatives is invaluable. You have been one of the foundations of the cooperative’s success and you leave behind a legacy that will continue for years to come. 

The co-op won’t be the same without you. Congratulations, good friend and I’m sure we’ll see you soon.