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Boreal Community Media

Introducing John Twiest, New CEO/General Manager at Arrowhead Cooperative

Jul 30, 2019 06:11AM ● By Editor
By Boreal Community Media - July 30, 2019

Raised in Cook County, John enlisted in the Navy for six years after graduation from high school, working as an Electronics Technician in avionics.  After his enlistment, he wondered where he wanted to go. He didn’t want to live on the east coast. His father passed away when he was in the service, so he made the decision to move back home to be close to his mom.  He went to work at Hedstrom Lumber, where he met his wife Kelly.  

After their marriage and starting their family, he thought about Border Patrol or Customs and Immigration jobs and began the testing process, but soon learned of an apprentice job opening with the City of Grand Marais.  He applied for that but did not get the job the first round, so he continued his career search. Six months later he received a call from the City asking him if he was still interested in the apprentice job. Being part of the project where they started putting internet access throughout Grand Marais, it really made him start thinking about access to internet in Cook County.  

Eventually, he heard of a 3rd year apprentice opening at Arrowhead Cooperative.  His goal was to become a better electrical lineman and earn his journeyman card. He loved working outdoors and thought this would be a great fit until he was ready to retire.  He was offered the position in October of 2005 until he worked his way up the ladder, becoming the Operations Manager. Almost 7 years later, he now holds the CEO/General Manager title for an organization that he truly loves and understands.  According to John, he “has an extraordinary and dedicated team that he gets to work with each and every day”. He manages a team of 20 employees between True North and Arrowhead Electric.

John said that community feedback and support that he has received since taking on his new role has been very positive and humbling.  He stated that it will be a big change going from Operations Manager to CEO/General Manager but is looking forward to the opportunity. According to John, making sure their subscribers have exactly what they are looking for and that their experience is what they expect, is a priority on the fiber side.  On the electric side, the cooperative must adapt to changing customer needs and changes in the energy field more broadly. This started with the implementation of the advanced metering system that gives members more information about their individual electric usage.

Making sure that what they offer their members and subscribers is top notch, John said that he finds himself doing internet speed tests whenever he is traveling for conferences and is proud to say that Cook County speeds exceeds that of even the Twin Cities.  Their customer base is almost double today over what they projected, which says a lot for their services.  

John’s immediate goals for the next year, in addition to adjusting to life in his new role, are focusing on education for members, employees, and the Board and telling their story to the community.   Another project is doing a rate study to ensure that they are where they need to be, to see what their options are, and how to keep rates as low as possible for their members.  

John is a fourth-generation resident of Cook County, his great-grandfather was John Edward Mulligan who came here as a surveyor for the forest service, working in the County to name lakes and do platting to develop the County.  John reflected that he has the same opportunity as his great-grandfather, but in a different way, in his new position by bringing power and utilities to areas in the County that do not have it.

In John’s spare time, he enjoys hunting, fishing, golfing, mountain biking, and anything outdoors.  He said that when he is mountain biking, he is truly able to block everything else out and focus on only biking.  He also helps to maintain the trails for the Lutsen 99er. John and his wife are proud parents of two sons. 

Congratulations on your new position, John.  The community is very fortunate to have you!

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