If the name Drew Welton sounds familiar, it’s most likely because his technical presentations, including those at PowerTest, are some of the most well-regarded and well-attended.
That accolade combined with his renown for knowledge of substation maintenance testing made him the obvious choice for this year’s Alliance Recognition Award. The award honors an individual who has been a dedicated supporter of NETA and has also furthered the industry and inspired others.
Welton, Vice President of Sales and Business for intellirent, credits his success over the years to the incredible support of his family, friends, and colleagues.
“None of it would have been possible had I not had great support from my family, especially Stacey, my wife of 26 years,” he says. “This industry we work in can be very demanding in terms of time away from home and a commitment to often working long hours. My passion for the industry has always been a driving force, especially because of all the great people I’ve worked with.”
Among those treasured colleagues is Wayne Hartmann, who has known Welton for more than 30 years, worked with him in multiple capacities, and considers him a friend.
“I have seen Drew grow in the industry and transcend the roles of student, practitioner, and now teacher,” says Hartmann, Solutions Growth Leader, North America, for GE Grid Automation. “He has embraced the power of education as a philosophy with his numerous papers, presentations, and training materials that address testing and commissioning of system protection and primary infrastructure.”
“We tag-teamed at Western Electric Institute’s Relay School for years, and it was enjoyable and a highlight of each year we taught there,” he says. “I was there with an in-depth professional in Drew, and the students, facilitators, and steering committee could all see that.”
Neil McCaw, President of intellirent, says Welton continues to exude that air of expertise combined with a willingness to help and share his knowledge.
“Drew’s passion and commitment to this industry is unparalleled. He is deeply respected by his colleagues and customers and is someone who takes on challenges with optimism and a commitment to solving the problem,” McCaw says. “He is an amazing resource to customers and his fellow employees and a huge contributor in knowledge sharing in our field. The entire intellirent team is thrilled to congratulate him on this honor and achievement.”
Known for doing the work for work’s sake — not for recognition or praise — Welton was understandably surprised to hear his name announced at the presentation.
“It took me a while to realize what was happening, and I was wondering why my boss was videotaping the presentation,” he says. “These are all wonderful people, and the emotion of the moment was quite overwhelming.”
Much as the award was a surprise, Welton admits that his career in electrical testing was unexpected as well.
“I really didn’t intend on working in this particular industry. I have a bachelor’s degree in business administration from a small college in Colorado and sold radio advertising as my first job,” he says.
“When I finally took to materials management, I accepted a job with Beckwith Electric in inventory control. Then Vice President of Sales and Marketing Lew Roberson recognized I had a gift for learning quickly and a strong sales aptitude, so he provided me with the opportunity to move into inside sales,” Welton says.
“It was then I had the fortunate opportunity to work for Charles ‘Chuck’ Mozina, who was instrumental in teaching me so much about protective relaying. What really helped me turn the corner was an opportunity to join OMICRON electronics in 1997, and over the next 20 years or so, I came to love this industry even more. There was so much to learn and experience and so many great people to learn from that I never stopped having fun.”
What Welton calls fun, intellirent’s Director of Inside Sales Jason Creese calls a true passion for and understanding of the industry as well as a drive to invest in it.
“Drew’s commitment over his many years has contributed to so many great opportunities to learn, speak, and apply across the various avenues within our industry,” Creese says. “Drew is instrumental in our support of the industry. In addition to equipment knowledge, testing standards, and field application awareness, he provides necessary insight into up and coming technologies and training to not only the team here at intellirent, but also to our customers.”
Indeed, whether it was his own career or in the training he provides, Welton says he always advises others in the industry — especially new or emerging professionals — to constantly push to learn and grow.
“What was always important to me was helping others and being able to share what I have learned and experienced over the years. We often become so complacent in our day-to-day routines that new technologies designed to make our lives better get overlooked. Sometimes people are afraid to make changes or try new technologies — especially in the field of electrical testing,” he says. “Organizations such as NETA, IEEE-PES/IAS, and others are continuously rewriting standards and providing expert knowledge, and we should be taking advantage of this. There is always something new to improve upon.”
It’s that drive for education, improvement, and growth that makes Welton special, Hartmann says.
“Drew’s passion to pass on his knowledge and experience to others truly makes him an industry guy,” Hartmann says. “He’s the real deal.”
MEET DREW WELTON
Welton is the Vice President of Sales and Business at intellirent, providing leadership to the sales teams and developing business opportunities. He has more than 25 years of experience in power system engineering focused mainly on sales and sales management for relays, controls, and primary and secondary test equipment.
He got his start in the industry with Beckwith Electric, then AREVA T&D before working almost 20 years with OMICRON. Drew is a 20-year Senior Member of IEEE-PES/IAS and an active member of the IEEE Transformers Committee. He has authored technical papers that have appeared in various technical journals, including NETA World.
Welton received a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management from Fort Lewis College in Colorado. Today, he is highly regarded for his knowledge of substation maintenance testing and has conducted training sessions for substation technicians and engineers across North America. His technical sessions at PowerTest are highly regarded and some of the most well-attended.