MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Alabama Rural Electric Association (AREA) gave its 2019 Eminent Service Award to Grady Smith, longtime president and CEO of the Cullman Electric Cooperative. The award, established by AREA in the 1960s to honor outstanding contributions to the rural electric program, is given to individuals of the highest caliber and with qualifications of great achievement contributing to the rural electrification program.
Smith, a graduate of Cullman High School, attended St. Bernard College with dreams of being a teacher and coach. His career path took a different direction on May 15, 1972, when he took a job at Cullman Electric Cooperative. He spent 13 years working his way through the ranks as a groundman, apprentice lineman, lineman, serviceman, staking technician, associate engineer and eventually superintendent of operations. He left Cullman in 1985 for 12 years, working in positions at two other cooperatives, and returned to Cullman in 1997 to the one job he’d always wanted, president and CEO where he served for more than 21 years. He retired on May 15, 2018, exactly 46 years to the day after his co-op career began.