Dakota Hinrichs: TRAVELIN' MAN

Ever since he watched his grandfather head off for long stints working on the railroad, Dakota Hinrichs wanted a job that put him on the road.

“Since I was a kid, I’ve always thought that traveling for work was the coolest thing because that’s what my grandpa did,” says Dakota, a Lead Technician for Industrial Inspections & Analysis (IIA), who acquired Diversified Inspection in 2018. “When I heard about this job, it was a big plus that I would get to travel. I’m just not an office guy.”

The closest thing he has to an office is the trailer where he conducts on-site, non-destructive testing for electric utilities, municipalities and electrical contractors. Dakota spends his days testing live line equipment, such as rubber gloves, fiberglass hot sticks, hot arms — even the fiberglass ladders used by that rare breed of lineman who work on transmission lines while suspended from a helicopter. Using visual inspections, dielectric testing and other tests, Dakota ensures that tools and protective gear function as intended and will protect line workers from electrical shock.

When he joined IIA in January 2020, Dakota started out as an assistant or “tool helper.” Having learned the ropes from a lead tool tech and earned several certifications, today he has his own assistant that travels with him. It’s a good thing, too.

“I’m a talker, so working alone isn’t for me,” says Dakota, who appreciates his company truck almost as much as he appreciates his assistant.

“I love trucks, and one of the things I like about this job is I get to see a lot of trucks — and the company truck I drive is very nice,” says Dakota, an outdoorsman who enjoys fishing and off-roading in his free time.

While most of his customers are based in the Midwest, Dakota’s favorite work experience took him to the Northeast for three weeks with his older brother, Collin, who was working as his tool assistant and today is also a Lead Technician for IIA.

For three consecutive weeks, the hard-working pair traveled around the Northeast, testing equipment for nearly 90 hours a week. Dakota readily recalls the challenges of driving a 32-foot trailer through unfamiliar cities and difficult terrain, especially during the “tsunami-like rain” he encountered at one point in Vermont.

“Being out there in the storm and driving through it was quite an experience, but it was fun to me,” he says. “I’m a country boy. If there’s a tornado coming, I’m the guy out on my front porch looking at it.”

Along with the travel, Dakota enjoys the freedom his job offers to take a contract and run with it.

“Once they tell me which customer I’ll be working for, I get hold of supervisors in every yard to schedule trucks to come in for testing,” says Dakota. “I like taking control and putting all the pieces of the puzzle together to complete the contract.”

He also enjoys spending time on job sites with the people who will benefit from his work.

“I run into a lot of really good guys who make the job fun. A lot of them will sit down and talk with us, ask questions, and tell us that they appreciate what we do.”

Dakota has a keen understanding of the importance of every single test.

“Testing is very important to keep the linemen safe, and I take pride in what I do,” says Dakota. “When everyone else is going home for a storm, they’re the ones heading out. Linemen risk their lives for us; the least we can do is make sure they have safe equipment to do the work.”

Read what PAR Electrical Contractors have to say about Dakota Hinrichs.

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