HISTORY The history of NLC dates back to 1991, when two of its founders—Gerald McKie and Aaron Howell (both Boise State University linework trainers at the time)—realized that a more modern program needed to be developed.
The two decided the best course of action would be to establish a private college dedicated to providing the finest educational offerings ever known in the industry. To help realize this endeavor, Howell approached fellow lineman Shane Porter, NLC‘s third founder. McKie brought extensive trade and training experience to the table; Howell and Porter also had considerable experience, in addition to degrees in business and engineering, respectively. The three went to work designing what would become the Electrical Lineworker Program (ELP)—a modernized, student-focused approach to linework training. Studying the needs of power companies across the United States, they developed an innovative curriculum designed to graduate the most competitive candidates in the country. After two years of research and development, NLC was founded in April 1993, opening its doors to the first ELP class in August that same year. The new approach was well received, drawing considerable attention from the industry’s best and brightest. In 1998, Alan Drew—a lineman, engineer, and one of the industry’s foremost experts on linework operations and history— joined ranks. Drew contributed immediately, formalizing overall operations of the college, which led to national accreditation in 2000. Drew also captured the true spirit of NLC in establishing its mission: to provide The Benchmark Standard of Training®. NLC’s pioneering spirit proved to be a catalyst for growth in other areas. In 1998, more groundbreaking curriculum was produced that took complex topics and explained them using simple-to-understand language and well-illustrated imagery—luxuries the industry had been starved for. That effort would become the foundation for the Power Delivery Programs, NLC‘s distance-learning subsidiary. Hundreds of power companies enrolled thousands of employees in the programs, only to request even more training. Before long, NLC was delivering on-site training to thousands more lineworkers and other professionals across the country—even around the world. These efforts were led by alumnus Michael Hennesey. NLC’s commitment to continual improvement of the industry was punctuated in 2011 by the hiring of alum Mark Groves, with the intent of manufacturing better, safer tools for the industry. Groves and Howell developed a snatch block with friction capabilities—the highly successful OX Block®—and revolutionized rigging safety with a single product. NLC continues its innovation with a wide range of other safety and training products that will improve the industry well into the future.
Throughout its history, NLC’s leaders dreamed of applying its proven educational methods to other skilled trade industries. In 2019, NLC will finally have the opportunity to do just that, by offering entry-level programs in telecommunications linework and in natural gas distribution. These programs mark a new phase in the history of NLC, as we begin to revolutionize these two industries, just as we have done to the electric utility industry.