Co-workers in Southern California Edison’s (SCE) Southern Region sometimes get twins, Larry and Terry Thien, confused. But the brothers, who followed their father into lifelong careers with SCE, couldn’t be more certain of who they are.
“Someone will say to me, ‘Hi Terry! How ya doin’?’” said Larry. “And it’s easier just to go with it than it is to explain to them that I’m Larry, not Terry.”
Larry is a field general supervisor at the Saddleback Service Center, and his brother, Terry, is a Distribution Operations Center supervisor in Santa Ana. Both men have been with the company 31 years, and see their careers as a tribute to their father — also named Larry — a 37-year SCE manager who passed away earlier this year.
“It is a very satisfying thing for Larry and me both to have honored dad by doing the same work,” said Terry. “We both have been fortunate to have good careers and have tried to uphold good reputations, and that means a lot to us, because we knew what kind of reputation he had, and we had a lot to live up to.”
The two brothers were planning on becoming firefighters before they joined SCE. After graduating from Downey High School in 1978, they took temporary jobs with the Los Angeles County Fire Department helping fight brush fires.
They enjoyed the excitement of being flown by helicopter to remote areas where they would cut fire breaks, and had hoped the job would serve as a stepping stone to permanent firefighting careers. But that never materialized.
During a discussion about their futures, their dad suggested they apply for jobs with SCE. Not long after that, the brothers were following in their father’s footsteps. They both started their SCE careers as groundmen in Long Beach.
Their dad, the former manager of SCE’s Southern Division, didn’t leave the success of his sons to chance.
“He kind of stayed on us,” Terry chuckled. “Early on, he would check with our foremen to make sure we were toeing the line.”
The twins’ father didn’t leave their safety to chance, either.
“He was always reminding us to keep safety first,” Larry said. “If he said it once he said it a thousand times, ‘Don’t take shortcuts.’”
Within six months of starting with SCE, the twins were offered apprenticeships as linemen, and they said, from that point on, they never looked back.
Throughout their 31 years with SCE, the Thien brothers have continued to support each other.
“We worked together as troublemen in the Villa Park Sector,” said Terry. “I’ve used Larry as a sounding board my entire career.”
“There’s been huge support over the years between the two of us,” Larry added. “Today, we work hand in glove almost on a daily basis. If we’re not on the phone every day, it’s every other day.”
During heat waves, for example, it’s Terry who monitors the system and works with engineering to come up with solutions to avoid potential overloads. He then communicates the game plan with system operators and with Larry, who sends out troublemen to switch and clear potential problems.
The twins, both Huntington Beach residents, say their father provided them with the inspiration that keeps them persevering in even the most difficult situations.
“He was the quintessential company man,” said Terry. “There was not a more dedicated man to his craft of anybody we’ve ever met.”
Larry agreed. “He left a lot of Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners, because when they called, he responded.”
“That’s still the way it is with us,” said Terry. “When the weather is harsh, we’re working. And that’s just the reality of our business.”