Dave Kreger is the Executive Director of Customer Solutions at Premier Power Maintenance, Inc., one of the largest, privately (family) owned NETA companies. He is responsible for overseeing all operations and sales. He brings over 15 years of experience in operational budget development and execution and more than 25 years of experience in power generation, transmission, and distribution systems. Early in his career, Kreger gained extensive experience as a field service engineer through testing, troubleshooting, commissioning, and repairing power systems, and did high-voltage work as a utility lineman.
Kreger is a member of NFPA (Electrical Section), a member of the Professional Electrical Apparatus Reconditioning League PEARL), and was previously a NIULPE Licensed Power Engineer. “I took my NETA Level III exam in 1998, so 2023 represents 25 years as a NETA Level III technician,” he says. He has an AA in information systems, a BS in Physical Sciences, and graduated from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Prime Power School.
Kreger is noted for his ability to provide a practical understanding of even the most complex operational requirements of a power distribution or utilization system, including application of the National Electric Code, UL requirements, NFPA electrical Series, NETA testing specifications, NESC, and other industry standards. In addition to his operations responsibilities, Kreger also serves as an instructor for Premier Power’s internal and external training program and routinely contributes in the field as a test technician. In his free time, Kreger and his family care for their animals on their horse ranch in Indiana.
Here, this Prime Power Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) graduate shares his thoughts on his long-time passion for learning and sharing what he has learned plus how he became a human performance program champion.
NW: What attracted you to electrical testing?
Kreger: As a re-enlistment option while in the Army, I wanted to acquire a skill set transferable to the civilian sector. The Prime Power Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) sounded interesting, and the school was touted as very difficult to get into and difficult to graduate from. I embraced that as a personal challenge. With a background in physics and many long hours of study and homework, I graduated in the top tier of the power plant electrician’s course and went on to attend the lineman’s school at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas. I had very little knowledge of NETA or electrical testing at that point other than some basics taught in MOS school. Today, the Army program — and other services with similar training backgrounds — have NETA’s recognition as NETA Approved Military Organizations (NAMOs). That has resulted in much better technical support from NETA to the services.
NW: How long have you been in the field and how did you get started?
Kreger: Once in Prime Power, colleagues leaving the Army were heavily recruited by NETA testing companies. Several of my colleagues were working for local NETA companies in the Seattle market, so I followed suit and joined Apparatus Service and Engineering Technology (ASET) in 1997.
NW: How did you achieve your current position?
Kreger: I was a field service technician and project lead at ASET, but then I started working in business development and sales along the way. In 1999, I was recruited away from ASET by some senior leadership of Electro-Test, Inc. (eti) during a tradeshow in Tacoma, Washington, for a very intriguing opportunity: I was recruited not as a field service technician but as a technical trainer.
During my tenure with eti — which later became Electrical Reliability Services, an Emerson Company — I did most of the internal training for ERS and for the union team at High Voltage Maintenance (HVM). I also performed technical and safety training for our customers in ERS and HVM territories. In 2004ish, when IEEE 1584 came to be, I became the business development person for arc flash protection programs and toured around the country performing lunch-and-learn presentations, customer consulting visits, and technical and commercial training for our own salespeople, but still remained as the primary technical trainer for our new technicians.
In the spring of 2005, I was given the opportunity to manage a field service center for ERS and later added a second field service center. I spent the next 11 years in various management-level roles with ERS (now a Vertiv Company). In 2016, on the verge of being spun off from Emerson, and looking at a possible sale to investment groups, it appeared my trajectory within the company was going to change dramatically, so I left California for Indianapolis, where I reside today.
NW: Who has influenced or mentored you along the way?
Kreger: I have worked with so many great people in this industry that it is hard for me to narrow this down to one person, but if I had to name one person, it would be Leif Hoegberg at ERS Vertiv. Leif and I were colleagues and competitors of sorts as field service managers. His operation and mine were comparable in size and the composition of technicians, so we were often comparing numbers and challenging each other. Leif became a regional manager to whom I reported and later managed the engineering services team to which I belonged as a technical trainer and an arc flash subject matter expert (SME). Leif was always (very quietly) inspiring me to think about the bigger picture and not just what was in front of me today.
NW: What about this work keeps you committed to the profession?
Kreger: The diversity of what we do, the technical challenges we face and overcome, the professional growth that we can achieve, the knowledge we can gain and share — and the list goes on. I can’t think now, in retrospect, what else I could have done coming out of the Army that would have provided the career path this industry has afforded me.
NW: Describe one of your best work days…what happened?
Kreger: I still have a passion for training, and recently a customer asked if we did any training around grounding — which happens to be one of my many particular interests — so I did some additional research and put together a class that covered grounding and every variation of grounding I could find. It was very well received by the audience, which happened to include the customer’s own grounding SME, and that class became an audition for a customer that has multiple locations nationwide.
NW: Share the story of a day that didn’t go as planned. How did you respond and what did you learn?
Kreger: Aside from an accident involving someone’s health or well-being, I can’t think of anything worse than unexpectedly shutting down a customer’s facility. I also don’t know of too many technicians in our industry that haven’t done that at least once in their career. This particular instance was very disturbing to me. The customer operated a substation quite remote from their generating plant, and the protective relaying was due for testing. The plant operators warned me that one of their substation relays “always seemed to confuse” our test technicians.
I reviewed drawings, talked to other technicians who had been there before, and really thought I knew the issues. I was determined NOT to do what others had done, but of course, I fell into the same trap and dropped the plant off-line. What I learned from this is that we are human, and despite our best preparations, we make mistakes. However, that event triggered me to think more about what we can do to prevent these types of avoidable circumstances and led me to do more research and become a human performance program champion.
NW: What energy trend do you think will affect your work in the future?
Kreger: Nuclear power, which was the basis of the Army’s Prime Power Program back in the day before nuclear was a bad word, is showing signs of resurgence.
NW: As an industry, what do you think should be our No. 1 priority over the next year?
Kreger: We must focus on training and certifying those who will take the place of our aging workforce.
NW: If you were talking to a young person interested in knowing more about being an electrical testing technician, how would you describe the job, and what advice would you give them?
Kreger: I became part of this industry somewhat late in life, having spent my first 20 working years in other things and in the Army. I see this industry as wide open to young people coming straight out of high school or tech school — without the necessity of a four- to six-year engineering degree and the financial burden that represents — to make an excellent wage and develop a true career path. The diversity of what we do, the types of testing we engage in, the technology we see and use, and the customer challenges we face make this a fascinating career path.
NW: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Kreger: The more or less random choosing of the Army Prime Power program was a huge turning point in my life. I so wish I would have known about the opportunities in this industry at an earlier stage in life. If anyone reading this has young family members, associates, friends, friends’ children, etc., encourage them to look at this trade and the opportunities it affords. People will always need electricity, so the power industry will always be needed, and the industry will always need talented young people.