Insights > End of a legacy as Carpenter retires from Entergy Arkansas
End of a legacy as Carpenter retires from Entergy Arkansas
This year, Entergy Arkansas celebrates its 110-year anniversary. As a vital part of Arkansas’ history since 1913, the company has come a long way since the early days. Now with more than 2,700 employees in Arkansas servicing approximately 728,000 customers in 63 counties, Entergy Arkansas is well established to be the premier utility company, meeting the needs of its customers.
To celebrate this milestone, Entergy Arkansas will feature a series of stories throughout the year that focuses on the history of the company. Kicking off the series, there is no better place to start than with the story of Flave Carpenter. No, not the Flavius Carpenter that Carpenter Dam in Hot Springs is named after, but his great grandson, Flave Carpenter.
In November of last year, Flave Carpenter retired from Entergy Arkansas after 26 years, essentially ending the family legacy at the company.
A history of Carpenters and dams
Entergy Arkansas’ story starts with Harvey Couch, an Arkansas entrepreneur who rose from modest beginnings and is regarded as the father of Arkansas Power and Light Company which was later named Entergy. Couch began exploring the possibilities of developing an interconnected electric utility system. Both Malvern and Arkadelphia had awarded franchises for citywide electric utilities, and in both cities, the utility companies were in decline. Couch proposed a partnership with Arkansas Land & Lumber Company, a large sawmill operation in Malvern, whereby sawdust and waste material purchased from the sawmill would be used for fuel, producing steam for two 550-kilowatt turbines to generate electric power.
As demand for electric power increased, Couch began formalizing plans for hydroelectric development on the Ouachita River and needed an advisor to help find the best locations to build dams to generate power. It wasn’t until he met Flave Carpenter that the two would help turn his hydroelectric power aspirations into becoming a reality.
“Sometime around 1910, thereabouts, my great grandfather met Harvey Couch,” said Flave Carpenter, former customer service manager for Entergy Arkansas. “My great grandfather was a U.S. Marshal at the time in the southern territory of Arkansas, and Harvey Couch had begun thinking about electrification.”
Since Couch started his first unit with the Malvern to Arkadelphia transmission line and burning sawdust to generate electricity, he wanted to utilize the Ouachita River as he transitioned to hydroelectric power.
“My great grandfather, in his dealings as a U.S. Marshal and chasing moonshiners and other outlaws through the Ouachita River Valley found three places that would be suitable to place hydroelectric dams,” said Carpenter. “The first was Remmel Dam, the second was Carpenter Dam, and then the third was Blakeley Dam.”
Remmel Dam is marking its 99th anniversary this month. It’s the first major dam project on the Ouachita River and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on Sept. 4, 1992.
Carpenter Dam, the second dam that formed Lake Hamilton, was completed in 1932 and was named for Carpenter’s great grandfather because of his work with Harvey Couch on finding the locations for those facilities.
Carpenter legacy continues
Fast forward a few decades, and the second Carpenter – Flavius’ grandson, Flave Carpenter Sr., – contracted to work for Entergy as an economic developer in the 1980s. Then in 1996, Flave Carpenter, Jr. went to work at AP&L as a trade show manager to help recruit industries to Arkansas.
The youngest Carpenter said he had the opportunity to watch his father interact with employees of the company over the years as he worked with community and economic developers.
“Essentially from the earliest times that I can remember, there's been talk about Carpenter Dam and how my great grandfather had a relationship with Harvey Couch up to the point that I started with the company.”
Carpenter later transitioned to being a customer service manager in Searcy for the company where he finished up his career. After helping thousands of customers and 26 years on the job, he felt it was time to move on to the next chapter of his life to give other people a chance to take up the mantle.
“One of the things that I've enjoyed most about what’s happened over the years with this company is we began in 1913 and we’re still around. We have continued to be a service provider to the customers that we serve. That proved to be a vital service. And as that changes day to day these days, with the demands of electricity, we're able to stay out in front of that and we're committed to doing that in a safe and reliable manner.”
When asked if his great grandfather would be proud of the work he has done with the company he helped form, Carpenter replied, “I think my great grandfather would be very amazed when you think about where they came from and now to see where we are, I think he'd be truly amazed at the speed with which we deal with people and how well we are able to satisfy their needs.”
As this chapter closes for the Carpenter family, the legacy they left the Entergy Arkansas family will carry over for many years to come as they have directly shaped the future of the company. This is something Carpenter will never forget as he rides off into the sunset.
“I would like to say thank you to the leaders of this company for giving me an opportunity to be part of this great company. They've taken such good care of me and my family. And I'm forever grateful.”