January 2009

My job rocks

TVA employees are on the job 24/7, keeping the lights on, running the river system, managing TVA lands and supporting TVA’s operations. In this column, you’ll hear from TVA employees who can say, “My job rocks!”

Gayla Nelson

Truck driver foreman, Transportation Services, Muscle Shoals


Gayla Nelson has worked at TVA for 21 years – 14 as a driver, when she was one of only two female drivers, and the last seven as a foreman for 37 drivers – all men – and 44 semi-trucks.

“I went from moving around the Valley behind a steering wheel to spending my day steering a computer,” she says. “I missed driving for a few years, but I got used to it.

“It’s challenging in a different way. It’s like taking 40 pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. You’ve got freight that has to be moved to all different points, and you have trucks going to all different places, short routes and long routes, and you’ve got to deliver the freight in the time frame that our customers need it.

“We pretty much move everything in the Valley, from parts and small tools to supplies and 200,000-pound rotors coming in and out of the Power Service Shops. For transmission crews, we move poles, breakers and switches. For construction crews, we move dozers and cranes on our low boys, and on flatbeds, we move any type of equipment needed on a job site. In van trailers, we move hazardous wastes.

“Part of the challenge is communication – staying in constant contact with the drivers. You put that puzzle all together, and you make sure every piece gets where it’s going, in one piece, undamaged.

“I do love what I do.”

Nelson lives outside of Russellville, Ala., in the community of Belgreen, with her dogs Maizie, a Jack Russell terrier, and Mini Mouse, a half Jack Russell terrier/half dachshund. With two younger sisters and a younger brother, Nelson has a large extended family.

“There are 26 of us now,” she says, including two TVA employees. Her sister Jackie Baker is a material handler at Colbert Fossil Plant, and her nephew Daniel Graham (Jackie’s son) is a diesel mechanic in the Heavy Equipment Division.

Nelson says she loves to garden. Last year she raised tomatoes, cucumbers, spaghetti squash and Asian eggplant. And she loves to read, most recently the sixth book in the Harry Potter series. “I love Harry Potter,” she says.








Gayla Nelson tracks 37 drivers and 44 semis — and sometimes checks the oil.