80-Year-Old Meter Reader Has No Plans to Slow Down
According to Mon Power meter reader Richard Lough, age is just a number—time has yet to slow him down. At age 80, you can find him on his daily route reading meters on the rough terrain in Franklin, W.Va. Lough arrives to work at 6 a.m. and is out the door by 7 a.m., reading an average of 200 meters a day.
“I have no problem getting around and I feel just as good now as I did when I first started working for the company many years ago,” he said. “I enjoy the work because my colleagues are great and I enjoy talking with our customers from time to time.”
A Colorful Career
Lough has held many roles throughout his career and he has achieved a lot along the way. After serving in the U.S. Navy from 1956 to 1960, he worked as a meter reader in Washington, D.C. Eventually, he grew tired of living in the big city and decided to move home to Franklin. That’s when he joined Mon Power – one of FirstEnergy’s 10 electric companies – in 1962 as an urban representative tasked with reading meters and selling Frigidaire appliances.
“Selling appliances was a tough job,” he said. “I had to meet a quota selling washers, dryers, refrigerators, you name it, and those numbers were not easy to meet.”
Lough worked for Mon Power for seven years before leaving the company to help his family run its poultry farm. During this time, he and his family collected about 10,000 eggs a day. He also worked at his father-in-law’s hardware store, Ernest Bowman & Bro. He married his wife Rebecca in 1969 and they raised two sons. Today, his wife can be found running the family’s hardware store.
Ten years ago, at age 69, Lough decided to hang up his farming gear and return to Mon Power. He says he’s fortunate the company hired him back as a contractor, and eventually, as a meter reader.
In the 56 years since Lough first joined Mon Power, technology has changed many aspects of the work.
“I used to read meters by writing down the results on a tablet,” he said. “Each page had a customer’s name and the tablet lasted for about a year before I switched to a new one.”
Back then, he said employees had to figure out the difference in meter reads from month to month. Today, it’s all read electronically.
One part of the job that hasn’t changed is the opportunity to occasionally go beyond the meters.
“I recently helped a woman fix a flat tire after completing my route, and I’ve helped get car batteries started here and there,” Lough said.
Bucket List, Baseball and Good Old-Fashioned Grit
Two years ago, at 78, Lough checked an item off his bucket list. He jumped out of an airplane –and said he’d like to try this wonderful experience again.
“I’ve also been zip-lining and whitewater rafting in the last few years,” he said. “I’m in good shape and I still can run with the best of them.”
When Lough isn’t reading meters, or checking items off of his bucket list, you’ll probably find him at the local ballpark. He’s been a high school baseball official for 52 years and still calls games from time to time.
Another interesting fact: Lough says he’s never taken a sick day. Not one. The only major health setback he can remember is dealing with a kidney stone. So, what keeps him going?
“I don’t really watch what I eat, but I go to the doctor each year for a checkup,” he said. “I guess walking up and down those West Virginia mountains keeps me in shape!”
Lough offers this advice to new employees and those he’s trained along the way: “Always do the job expected of you. Don’t try to cut any corners. You get paid for doing your job and doing it well.”