“When you have an organization that is based on technical excellence and accuracy, it requires attention to detail that must not waver,” began Ron Widup, Vice Chairman, Board of Directors and Senior Advisor, Technical Services at Shermco Industries, as he introduced NETA’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Rod Hageman. “From developing standards to ensuring the accuracy of author-contributed content, it takes a special person with that attention to detail who will recognize the need, correct the parts that need correcting, and when needed, reject the parts that are not relevant or incorrect.”
“Roderic ‘Rod’ Hagemanis the best of the best at ensuring the technical accuracy of our Association, but he is much more than that,” Widup continued. “He has held positions on the Board of Directors and as President of the Association, Technical Editor of NETA World, Examination Committee Chair, member of the Standards Review Council (SRC), member of codes and standards committees in the industry, technical presenter, and a whole host of other duties and responsibilities for the betterment of the association and our industry.”
“NETA is what it is today thanks to the passion and contributions of Rod Hageman,” Widup concluded. “At its core, NETA is about technical excellence, and for his entire career, Rod Hageman has been about technical excellence.”
Eric Beckman, NETA President and Vice President of Engineering at National Field Services, notes, “Rod would challenge answers, and it showed the intelligence and the experience he has in the industry as an engineer.”
Chasen Tedder, NETA Secretary and Electrical Field Engineer at Hampton Tedder Technical Services, agrees. “Rod really helped push NETA into a better position by holding all of the NETA community accountable and elevating all of the businesses to become better than they are as individual companies.”
“Hageman pushed everyone toward excellence,” explains Jim Cialdea, CEO of Sigma C Power Services.“Rod is very strong-willed and opinionated, which anyone who knows him understands, and he always set the bar so high.”
NETA Board TreasurerJohn White,President Emeritus, Sigma Six Solutions, summed it up.
“Rod exhibits a somewhat subtle approach to a discussion. Rather than bringing flair or flamboyance to the story, he brings wisdom and experience. He was often quiet in Board meetings, but when he spoke, it was like the old E.F. Hutton slogan: ‘Everybody listens.’”
A PASSION FOR SHARING KNOWLEDGE
Recently retired, Hageman says he was very pleased to learn he was receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award. He says he especially enjoyed his work with the SRC. “It’s a great group of highly skilled technical people who put away their egos and listen to each other,” Hageman says. The SRC is responsible for the technical oversight and review of NETA’s programs, products, and services including the ANSI/NETA standards and the NETA Certification Program, which is the industry-leading certification program for this career path.
“I enjoyed them all,” Hageman continues. “The beauty of doing the work is that you are the one who gains the most from doing it. I worried the most about NETA’s technician exams. I was concerned about making the questions appropriate for the level and ensuring the answers were clearly the correct choice among the distractors. My work not only impacted the individual technicians but also the companies they worked for, so the questions needed to clearly sort out those candidates who were ready to advance to the next level and those who were not.”
Always willing to credit the team, Hageman says his guiding philosophy as he worked to help NETA gain recognition and respect across the industry was that, as individuals, each person has solved problems. “However, together we are a formidable source of problem-solving for even the most difficult problems,” he says. “When you have the opportunity to learn from and teach others in your association, everyone benefits.” He also gives credit to others for his success. “I learned from so many people that it would be difficult to sort out a few and give them all the credit. I think I learned something from almost everyone with whom I had significant contact.
Hagemanhas contributed to NETA in many ways but says his greatest contribution to NETA has been sharing his knowledge and experience. “Many of us did that for years, and it was key to the success of NETA as well as our individual companies,” he says. The technician exam, NETA World, ATS, and ETS were all important projects that many of us worked on.” Asked about current challenges to the electrical testing industry, he says he is not aware of an existing challenge to the testing industry. “In fact,” he explains, “if NETA’s active members continue to share knowledge and contribute, I see no reason why NETA shouldn’t continue to be a force in the industry, helping electrical systems owners keep their systems running and taking care of the occasional equipment failure.”
“I’ve known Rod for more years than either of us would like to admit,” says Mose Ramieh Sr., now retired as President of Power & Generation Testing, Inc. and a long-time member of NETA’s Board of Directors. “When I joined NETA, Rod was the first Board member I met, and we hit it off from the start. Rod, John White, and I became known as the Three Amigos as we spent a lot of time working together. Rod was the real technical guy.”
Ramieh remembers Hageman as a lover of all things technical with a passion for sharing knowledge. “Rod has been a trendsetter in the technical side of NETA and the industry. He has been a pioneer in the protective relay world. His technical review and scrutiny of NETA World have given NETA a respected place in the industry. He has — like so many others in the NETA family — contributed much to make us the 800-pound gorilla in the testing industry.”
Dr. Mary R. Jordan, NETA Executive Director from 1982 to 2006, was unable to attend the award ceremony but sent a letter. “As Executive Director during NETA’s formative years, I fully understand the massive contributions you made not only to the Association but to the entire electrical industry,” she writes. “Everything we did in those early years was a massive team effort by the whippersnappers of the time. You were so very instrumental and extremely generous in donating your time, talent, and technical expertise to the NETA Standards Review Council — and those results provided the recognition and respect of the entire electrical industry.”
Dan Hook, President of CBS Field Services, recalls, “Rod had the uncanny ability to have deep technical discussions — often passionate — and at the end of it all, respect others no matter who was right or wrong. In that sense, Rod was a true consensus participant. This showed during his tenure and irreplaceable contributions as a member of the Standards Review Council. Rod was serious in his approach to technical expertise, but in the end, he did not take himself too seriously.”
NETA World Technical Editor Tim Cotter reflects, “I remember working with Rod in the 1990s when he effectively was the technical exam committee. Because of his long-recognized technical expertise and unquestioned integrity, he was left to sign off on all exam details and control its distribution. He was also tasked with developing the first Level 4 exams because he clearly had capabilities far beyond what even a Level 4 Technician would be expected to embody. In all of his efforts on behalf of NETA, he worked hand in hand with his wife Diane, who was another major contributor to the growth of the organization. NETA’s present-day stature would be greatly diminished if not for the efforts of Rod and Diane.”
“Your greatest contribution, in my opinion, was the creation of the technician certification requirements,” Jordan agrees. “You wrote the bulk of the initial examination questions, painstakingly checking references for your own questions as well as questions submitted by others. You ensured not only that the answer was correct but also that all the alternate answers sounded probable. Those who now use and work with the NETA exam process cannot begin to imagine the massive, tedious, time-consuming effort that went into its creation. You devoted even more hours to creating the NETA specifications that later became American National Standards. You, along with Diane, provided not only content but the consistent format used throughout.”
“Personally, Rod is thoughtful and caring. Professionally, he is a virtuoso,” says White. “Rod brought the term ‘professional’ to the NETA organization. He and Diane were instrumental in elevating NETA World to its current status — one that is superior to most technical publications. Rod is truly an expert among electrical power professionals, and he has earned the strongest of reputations in the industry.”
NETA’s quarterly journal, NETA World, started as a mimeographed fluff sheet, recalls Jordan. “Thanks to you and Diane, it became a respected publication,” she says. “In addition to writing technical articles, you devoted uncountable hours to editing to confirm the technical accuracy of every detail published — a frustrating endeavor, I’m sure, as most articles were turned in at the last possible moment before (or after) the deadline.”
INTELLIGENT AND DEDICATED
Widup describes Hageman as a smart man who has directly impacted NETA’s technical competence and industry-leading position. “Rod’s attention to detail, his high expectations of accuracy and validation — for internal NETA activity as well as external contributors to the Association — and his relentless desire to assure that what we say in NETA World year after year is technically accurate and readable have helped the Association gain the respect and stature we currently have today,” notes Widup. “Our position of leadership in the industry is directly attributed in many ways to Rod’s efforts.”
“In addition to everything else, we all had time for fun!” Jordan says. Fulfilling their motto, “Work hard, play hard,” included sightseeing in Boston, touring glaciers in Alaska, whale watching in Key West, and getting drenched under Niagara Falls. “In addition to contributing leadership in the technical arena, Rod enhanced the entire organization by serving on the Board of Directors and as President,” Jordan concludes. “Know that I honor not only your massive contributions to the entire electrical industry but also that I treasure the memories and, above all, cherish our friendship.”
Huffman says he especially admires Rod’s genuine personality. “On a personal level, Rod is a really genuine person who doesn’t judge other people. He’s inviting and warm, with no ulterior motives. Rod is just an all-around good person. Professionally, I admire how analytical he is while still not losing sight of the obvious. Sometimes, a very analytical person can miss the obvious.”
Considered a mentor by many NETA leaders, Hageman says, “My father, Lynn Hageman, was my initial mentor, but during the early years of NETA, the members mentored each other, combining the knowledge and experience we each had.”
Hook remembers that Rod was simultaneously extremely intelligent and hard-working. “Although he often knew a subject matter well based on his experience, he was tenacious in studying to bring his level of knowledge up if needed. He never assumed he knew the complete and correct answer, although often he did. He put in countless hours educating himself on subject matters, especially as Technical Editor for NETA World.”
Like many others, Widup was surprised and impressed to discover Hageman’s musical abilities. “When our meetings and travels took us to the Chicago area, we often ended up in the basement at his house, playing pool and listening to music. One time, he mentioned he hadn’t played the drums in a while and had decided to start up again. With some coaxing and encouragement, he played the drums for us, and everyone was like, ‘This guy is good!’ I don’t know why I was surprised because Rod excels in everything he does.”
MEET RODERIC “ROD” HAGEMAN
After graduating from Iowa State University with a BS in electrical engineering, Roderic L. Hageman took over Illinois-based PRIT Service, Inc. in 1972. His father, Lynn Hageman, an electrical engineer, had established the company in the 1950s as an independent testing and engineering services firm. Over the next 45 years, with Hageman as President, PRIT was part of a growing industry, servicing industrial and power-producing companies throughout the Midwest with consulting and testing for electrical power distribution systems. PRIT joined NETA in 1986, and Hageman joined the NETA Board of Directors in 1988.
He has been a faithful contributor to the association ever since, including his service as NETA World’s Technical Editor (along with his respected and beloved late wife, Diane), and leadership roles on the Standards Review Council (SRC) and NETA Technical Exam Committee. He served two terms as NETA President and represented NETA on other industry committees, such as NFPA CMP-10.
PRIT was acquired by Shermco Industries in 2016 and Hageman retired from the Board, but he continued to work on the SRC and NETA World and stayed connected to the industry.
A NETA volunteer for nearly 40 years, Rod also served as NETA Board President, a member of the Board of Directors, a member of the Standards Review Council, and a NETA representative on the Codes and Standards Committee. He is a highly respected relay expert having presented on behalf of NETA at countless industry conferences. Recently retired, Rod remains an invaluable source of knowledge and is available to NETA members whenever needed.
Hageman is a three-time recipient of NETA’s Man of the Year Award, which become the Outstanding Achievement Award. His PRIT partner and wife, Diane Johnson-Hageman, was the “Man” of the Year in 1993. Hageman was honored again in 2016 with a tribute to his dedication to NETA and the industry.