PG&E’s Roy Gillham, Thankful to Serve Customers in Ukiah
On Thursday, Roy Gillham, a PG&E customer relationship manager, and his family will drive about three hours northeast from their home near Ukiah to the small town of Durham in Butte County. They’ll have Thanksgiving dinner number one at Gillham’s folks’ house, then load up their three kids and head over to his in-laws’ about a block and a half away for holiday meal number two.
You might imagine Gillham and his wife were childhood sweethearts. However, growing up a stone’s throw apart in this rural community of just 5,000 people, the two never even met until they went to college up the road in Chico.
“We went to different schools in Durham and were four years apart,” said Gillham. “I’m just lucky we finally ran into each other.”
Mentions of luck and gratitude come up frequently with Gillham. He exudes an upbeat, unabashed appreciation for everything in life: his work, his customers, his colleagues, his growing family—and the privilege of living and working amid the stunning natural beauty of California. His humility and positive outlook make him a great representative in PG&E’s local advertising campaign.
The accidental farmer
Gillham wasn’t a farm kid in the strictest sense of the word—his dad worked full-time as a lineman of a different order (AT&T)—but the family kept a small working ranch on the side.
“My dad raised cattle as a hobby,” he joked.
This demanding and work-intensive family hobby taught Gillham all about elbow grease and responsibility. He’d come home from basketball practice and spend the afternoon hauling hay and feeding the cows and horses, and by the time he was in high school he’d found another kind of farming to help him earn extra money: worms.
“Worms convert compost into this really rich soil,” said Gillham. He was a ranch hand, driving tractors and dump trucks and helping with the worm harvest.
“Everybody thought they were crazy,” he said of the worm farmers. “But it was a mom and pop operation back then and it’s a pretty big company now.”
When he headed off to Chico State, Gillham said good-bye to the worms and looked for a good job to help him work his way through school. He found a job selling heating and cooling systems and loved sales right away.
“It’s all about the customer connection. I could never sell anything that I don’t feel strongly about,” said Gillham.
Putting customers first
With more than four years at PG&E, he said his job working for Energy Solutions and Service is more like problem-solving with great products.
“If you go to a customer with the knowledge that you have the right solution for them from PG&E, it helps you sell with confidence and sincerity,” he said. “You sometimes run into skepticism, and you have to close those doors as you come to them. When you’re doing a good job, you’re delving into their needs. The whole time you’re talking to them, in your mind, you’re designing solutions and meeting those needs, answering any possible question they might have.”
“They know us already,” he said. “They know that we’re here, and we’ve been here, and we’re not going to sell you something you won’t benefit from. It’s a long-term relationship.”
Beyond having the confidence that the products PG&E offers are solid and effective, Gillham is enthusiastically appreciative of the operations and outreach of the utility’s frontline employees and support systems. The recent Valley Fire response was a true testament to the system-wide support he feels he can help bring to customers.
Working 16 days straight, he said the experience on the ground was “a lot of hard work and pretty heart-wrenching,” but seeing PG&E come through with such an impact was immensely gratifying.
“The company made my job as the local account rep so much easier,” he said. “They gave me 10 years’ worth of positive impact in a month. The funding was there, we were giving out great care packages, we had our mobile command centers…It was just awesome seeing the teamwork and effort and being able to be a part of that.”
For example, he shared a story about a lineman telling him about a dog in a kennel outside a fire-damaged house.
“He said the linemen had given the dog their sack lunches and asked if we could find the owners,” said Gillham.
He looked up the account and managed to locate the grateful owners who had been out of town prior to the evacuation and unable to return for their pet.
“I was so thankful the lineman had told me about that so we could reach out,” he said. “They contacted some neighbors to take care of him and were able to come back to a dog that was healthy and fed.”
He also shared stories of locals who expressed to him their amazement that PG&E employees were often the first people they saw in the area to provide help.
The simple things
Another aspect of PG&E Gillham appreciates is the opportunity to experience California’s beautiful wilderness areas at the utility’s PSEA campgrounds.
Last year, the family went with a large group to Bass Lake.
“It’s so cool that PG&E has these campgrounds. We hiked in Yosemite, rented a boat, played volleyball, horseshoes. There’s just so much history, and there are deer running around everywhere. We can’t wait to go back,” he said.
Gillham appears in one of PG&E’s local television advertisements, shot with customer Anderson Valley Brewing Company in the lush green hills outside Boonville.
“It’s such a beautiful division I get to cover,” he said.
The filming actually had to be rescheduled due to the slightly early appearance of his new baby girl, Allie. In the ad, there’s a scene where he cradles his weeks-old daughter and one showing him with his baseball player sons, Owen, 6, and Austin, 5. The family recently moved from Ukiah proper to the small town of Upper Lake, population 1,000. Although he hadn’t planned on a rural, “semi-urban” life as he did as a kid, he said he feels lucky he can offer his kids something similar to his own upbringing.
“They can walk to school, and everyone knows each other. When you go from being young adults on your own to having little kids, if you liked your own childhood you want them to be able to enjoy all lot those things, too. And I’m lucky PG&E can help us provide that for them,” said Gillham.
View and share Gillham’s local ad featuring Anderson Valley Brewing Company.