NIPSCO’s Centennial: A Celebration of Past, Present and Future

By: Caitlin Vanlaningham Last Updated: August 3, 2012

Exactly 100 years ago on August 2, 1912, Calumet Electric Company Incorporated opened its doors as an electric utility corporation. Its purpose was to supply power to the electric train service that traveled between the cities of Gary, Crown Point, Valparaiso and La Porte. Today, NIPSCO has flourished and now the largest distributor of natural gas, and the second largest electric distributor in the state of Indiana.

Thursday August 2, 2012 marked the 100 year anniversary for NIPSCO (Northern Indiana Public Service Company). It was commemorated with the first ever Luminary Awards Ceremony which was help at the NIPSCO Headquarters in Merrillville, Indiana. These awards were given to four community leaders in Northern Indiana.

“This is a great way to recognize community involvement,” said Kathleen Szot, External Communications Specialist for NIPSCO before the ceremony began. “We’ll also be unveiling our new South Shore Poster!”

Recipients of the Luminary Awards included retired South Bend Fire Chief Howard Buchanan and the rest of the South Bend fire department for providing natural gas safety training. Purdue University North Central’s Chancellor James Dworkin was recognized for his efforts to extend math, science and engineering education in local schools. Lake Station Mayor Keith Soderquist received an award for using clean energy to power Lake Station’s new city hall. Retiring state representative Chet Dobis was recognized for his accomplishments in improving the quality of life throughout Northwest Indiana and Indianapolis.

“Northwest Indiana is on its way back because of companies like NIPSCO,” declared Dobis in his speech that evening.

Special mention must be made for Cliff Allen. He attended the Luminary Awards Ceremony Thursday evening and was announced to be NIPSCO’s longest held employee. Allen had been in NIPSCO’s employ for over 50 years, and he’s not planning to leave anytime soon.

“I love it here,” Allen said happily to the room at large. “What makes a company great is the people, and there are great people here!”

After the awards were handed out, the South Shore Poster was unveiled. Local artist Neil Kienitz of Michigan City created the poster which is titled “Powering Indiana for 100 Years.” Within it is the artfully done depiction of the history and future of gas and electric utilities of NIPSCO.

Nick Meyer, Director of External Communications for NIPSCO attended the awards ceremony and spoke of all the planning and effort that went into this occasion. “It took several months to create this event and about a year to gather memorabilia, create an employee video and put together our commemorative book," Meyer said. "One hundred years is a long time, and to know that we extend that far into the past is amazing.”

Being around for 100 years would be a big deal for anybody, but for a company like NIPSCO, it’s a huge deal and absolutely calls for commemoration. The people of NISPCO were well aware of this, and made it a point to throw a party- a party that would last a long time.

“There have been events going on all week,” stated Bob Skaggs, President and CEO of NiSource, the parent company of NIPSCO. “Yesterday seven employees went up to New York to ring the closing bell at the Stock Exchange.”

Seven NIPSCO employees along with Skaggs, CEO and Executive Vice President Jimmy Staton, President Kathleen O’Leary and CFO Mike Finissi, went to the Stock Exchange and rang the closing bell to commemorate 50th anniversary of trading for NiSource. The employees were chosen via a company-wide contest.

“This is a very proud, happy moment,” continued Skaggs. “It is an opportunity to recognize the employees, and it helps morale.”

Tim Dehring, Senior Vice President of Transmission and Engineering for NIPSCO agrees.

“It feels good,” Dehring declared in regards to the 100 year anniversary. “I’ve been working for NIPSCO for 30 years and this is an exciting period. It is a great opportunity for the community and the team at NIPSCO.”

On Friday August 3, the employees of NIPSCO will be having their own celebration at the Merrillville Headquarters. In addition, throughout the remainder of the year NIPSCO employees will continue the Centennial Celebration by having the opportunity to take part in charitable events for Boys & Girls Clubs throughout Indiana.

Though times have changed, NIPSCO’s dedication to serving the surrounding communities has not. Happy 100th anniversary NIPSCO!

For more information on the Luminary Awards, the charitable events for the Boys & Girls Clubs or NIPSCO itself, visit NIPSCO.com.

{valpo} Click here for a full photo gallery from the 100 year NIPSCO celebration!!! {/valpo}

{portage} Click here for a full photo gallery from the 100 year NIPSCO Celebration!!!{/portage}