In the 1950s and 60s, the members of the Rat Pack were the definition of cool.
Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford.
Just reading the names of these legendary entertainers transports you back to Las Vegas.
All these years later, Mississippi Power has it’s very own Rat Pack who, while they’re not remaking Oceans 11, is a tight-knit group of former roommates from their days at Mississippi State University.
Brandon Gill, Edward Carranza, Austin Waldrup and Guy Evans all majored in Engineering in Starkville and eventually made their way to the company.
“Brandon, Ed and I all met at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College,” said Evans, a Distribution Engineer in Hattiesburg. “We had all of our classes together. Brandon and I ended up as lab partners and Ed sat in front of us. He wore a bow tie every day, so he was kind of hard to miss.”
Synergy before it was cool
After their time at Perkinston was completed, the trio moved to Starkville to continue their educational path. That’s where they met Waldrup and also became friends with Travis Barfield and Austin Dickerson, who both work at the company now.
When it came to school work and assignments, let’s just say the group was already implementing one of the 7 Habits.
“Homework was completed in a group approach. Some may call it cheating, but we called it Synergy,” said Carranza, a Grid Investment Engineer in the Coast Division. “We really did a good job of keeping each other accountable.”
Big fans of Bulldog athletics, the group could be found at just about every football, basketball or baseball game.
“We tailgated in The Junction before every football game,” said Gill, a Reliability Engineer in Power Delivery. “We also had a weekly poker night with upwards of 20 people playing on occasion. From a mental health perspective, having close friends that understood your school load and you could vent to was really important.”
“We duck, deer and turkey hunted together. We boiled crawfish and tailgated every weekend that we could,” said Barfield, a Senior Engineer in Power Delivery. “Anything to help get us through all the schoolwork.”
Quirks and cooking
No matter how close a group of friends is, when you spend a lot of time together, you begin to notice the little things that make us all the unique individuals that we are.
That was certainly the case with the Rat Pack. And interestingly enough, most of the memories related to cooking or sleeping.
“Brandon has the weirdest quirk to me,” said Waldrup, a Grid Investment Engineer in Laurel. “No matter the time or situation, if he’s ready to go to bed, he will go to bed. He just gets up and walks out of the room. No questions asked.”
Several members of the group pointed out a specific cooking habit of Carranza’s that left them all scratching their heads.
“His dad owns a restaurant, but Ed marinates his steaks in orange juice,” said Gill. “That tells you all you need to know right there.”
Getting to Mississippi Power
While at Mississippi State, Waldrup, Gill and Carranza received offers to co-op with the company. Gill remembers going to Humphrey Coliseum for a Career Day event.
“We made it a point to visit the Mississippi Power booth and do everything we could to get an interview,” said Gill.
Carranza added, “Once I realized I could work here, I saw an opportunity to work and create a better future for the community that raised me.”
After Evans graduated, he took a job with another company, but stayed in touch with his former roommates. When Gill alerted him to an opening, he applied and “was fortunate to get it.”
Now, all four roommates are thrilled to be working for the same company, where they can bounce ideas off of one another, or reach out and get some friendly advice.
“That has been very helpful, and I know I’ve called several of the guys to run something by them,” said Dickerson, an Engineer in the Protection & Controls group.
“When an entire group of friends make such an effort to work here and promote the company, I think that speaks volumes for the culture here at Mississippi Power,” said Gill. “There’s no other place we’d like to work.”
When asked if they could name any of the members of the real Rat Pack, only one, Carranza, could do so. Ain’t that a kick in the head?
Now in its 98th year of operations, Mississippi Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO), produces safe, reliable and affordable energy for nearly 191,000 customers in 23 southeast Mississippi counties. Mississippi Power recently was a recipient of the Community Partner Impact Award from the Center for Energy Workforce Development for its innovative and ongoing efforts to build a diverse workforce. With nearly 160 megawatts of approved solar energy capacity, Mississippi Power is the largest partner in providing renewable energy in the state of Mississippi. Visit our websites at mississippipower.com and mississippipowernews.com, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube.