For the Robinettes the Apple Doesn’t Flow Far from the Tree
Iowa Region Manager Steve Robinette recently shared exciting news about daughter Reghan – recipient of a $1,500 scholarship from the Iowa Rural Water Charitable Foundation. Steve encouraged her love of science and the water industry by bringing her to work with him. “She used to run titrations and other routine tests with me,” said Steve. She was fascinated with watching the reactions take place and always asked ‘why?’ while I did my best to explain it on her level. I have a strong science background and it just rubbed off.” Reghan will attend Des Moines Area Community College before enrolling at Iowa State majoring in Biomedical Engineering.
Steve’s love of science and the water industry came out of opportunity.
After graduating from high school in Mason City, Steve enlisted in the Air Force, then attended the University of Iowa. While there, he got a job at the University owned and operated water treatment plant – his first experience in this field. This experience sparked an interest in pursuing a career in the field.
With PeopleService for 18 years, Steve started as an Operator, then moved to Lead Operator in Grimes, Iowa. In 2014, Steve took the role of Region Manager in Iowa. “PeopleService stresses integrity and a sense of family,” said Steve. “I’ve always been treated fairly, with respect and have always been given the tools to do my job. PeopleService gives us enough flexibility to do our jobs as we see fit, all the while giving us opportunity to see and learn many different types of facilities and to learn more about the field.” When asked what sustains him in this job, Steve said it’s the “wide range of communities I serve in Iowa (population, types of facilities, private/public etc). It’s also the people in the communities we serve, as well as our employees…all IOWA nice! For every difficult person I may have to deal with there are 20 good, decent people I enjoy working with,” he added.
Steve says his biggest frustration in the job is that people in general have an underappreciation of water and clean wastewater. “Getting the message out doesn’t happen overnight, so it’s best to remember it’s a long, slow process and we have to take every opportunity to educate everyone we come in contact with in this job, including customers and councils.”
Steve’s pet peeve is people who flush items that won’t break down in the sewer system. Baby wipes marked “flushable,” according to Steve, are the worst. “I wish I could stress what they can do to a homeowner’s plumbing system as opposed to talking about a lift station and/or a pump they will never see or relate to. Both are important, but making it more personal helps,” he said.
What you may not know about Steve is that he play lead guitar and pens lyrics for local touring band The Lost Tracks. His favorite song on the set list is Happily because it’s very difficult to play with a lot of key changes and it’s long. Steve likes it because he gets to play some interesting guitar parts through some effect pedals that he doesn’t normally get to use.
Look for Steve at a local Iowa community’s water or wastewater plant. If he’s not there, check out where The Lost Tracks are playing next.