By: Tom Lambert

Deb Collins and Ashely Bove have a special place in their hearts for military veterans.

Always have. Always will. After all, several members from both their families served. And the two understand the struggles of veterans returning to their civilian life after years away on military service.

That’s why as leaders at Veterans Utility Service LLC they are committed to having a diverse workforce and hiring military veterans. They are also in the process of being certified as a women-owned business. Certification offers increased visibility and targeted business support through the certifying organization.

“The day a veteran gets discharged, after being various places overseas, they are left floundering,” she said. “They are looking to get housing and meet new friends. It takes a while to get established in a community, especially one new to them. We are here to help them by offering new opportunities within our company.”

The company, a supplier for Consumers Energy, does pipeline restoration work, valve change outs and remote-control valves.

“Most veterans just need a chance to let their skills shine,” Collins said. “When you apply here, we will work hard to find a position that fits you.”

As the company grows it hopes to expand its services with Consumers Energy to pipe installation as well as pipeline distribution. The company has 12 direct employees, including three military veterans, six women, and 30 to 60 union trade employees at any given time

“Consumers Energy gave me my start and has been a tremendous boost to our business now,” said Collins, who worked with the energy provider at a previous employer. “They have been great to work with and we look forward to a great future with them.”

Collins said she and Bove take great pride in hiring military veterans and other diverse subcontractors.

“It’s incredibly satisfying, we need everyone,” Collins said. “Everyone brings different values and thoughts to the table. Having a diverse workforce is priceless.”

The two women are focused on continuing to do the right things to help their company thrive, including building a strong safety culture.

“We have a culture that instills in our employees to do the right thing when nobody is watching,” Collins said. “When you work here, we will invest in your development and give you every chance to succeed.”

Ed Clifford, Executive Director of Supply Chain at Consumers Energy, said Consumers Energy is always looking for businesses that are not only diverse, but also have a stellar safety record and capabilities that will enable our strategic and operational plans.

“Safety and diversity are at the core of what we do at Consumers Energy,” Clifford said. “We are always intentionally looking for businesses that not only deliver on the outcomes we expect, but also share our values.”

Perseverance and picking the right opportunities have also helped shape the company, Collins added.

“By doing the right things, having stellar integrity and an exemplary safety record will all help us establish a name for ourselves in the industry and have more work come our way.”