A Technical Pioneer Retires After 36.5 Years of Service
Bret Shortall’s career started as an Analyst, and he quickly rose through the ranks.
J. Bret Shortall joined the Co-op on February 16, 1985. After 36 ½ years of service, he is passing the torch to fellow Technical Services coworkers and heading to new places, warmer shores, and the most magical place on Earth (Disney World). We are sad to see him go, but we wish him the best in his retirement. Read his retelling of a long and successful career at Choptank Electric:
“In 1985 when I was first hired as a mainframe computer programmer, the Co-op serviced half the meters that we have now (25,000; currently serve +46,000) and employed half the number of people (Choptank Electric employs over 150 people now). My grandfather, Clinton Stoops, worked for Choptank Electric for over 20 years, so I was familiar with the Co-op’s business model and culture. There were only a few large companies on the Eastern Shore that had IBM computers (which I was trained on) and luckily, Choptank Electric was one of those.
I worked my way up to become Lead Programmer/Analyst in 1990 and finally became Manager of Information Services (I.T.) in the Fall of 1992. I’ve worked here long enough to remember when the departments wrote their data down and brought it to us to be keypunched on a diskette. I wrote all of the programs allowing us to de-centralize the department. I also recall the first Ethernet network (high-speed internet network) that I.T. installed and the mass installation of personal computers that went along with the network in 1998 and 1999. Once the network was in place, Choptank purchased their first “canned” software application from National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC) in St. Louis in 1999. The next big project was security and securing the network and the members’ data. Even though we started that effort in the mid-2000s, it is an ongoing project that continues to this day.
Overseeing Information Technology for the Co-op has allowed me to serve on every committee and be involved with every aspect of the Cooperative. I’m very proud of having made decisions that have steered the Cooperative. My proudest moment was de-centralizing the I.T. department and putting the tools in the hands of the employees to allow them to enter their data and produce their own reports.
As for my retirement, I’m going back to Disney World! I plan on more trips to Disney World in Florida, traveling across the United States, and lots of Snakehead fishing. Even when you don’t catch anything, fishing is very relaxing and a great way to unwind. My family is very excited for me. They know that the tech field can be stressful, so they are thrilled about spending more time together and having fun.”