A man for the membership

Cass County Electric Cooperative CEO Marshal Albright will retire in April after 37 years of service.


Kaylee Cusack


February 7, 2024

Marshal Albright was destined for a career in electricity. His electrician grandfather worked alongside electric cooperatives in the 1940s to bring power to the rural homes of southeastern North Dakota. Four decades later, in 1986, a young Albright accepted a role as a load management technician at Cass County Electric Cooperative (CCEC).

“I remember the day I told my parents I got offered the job,” Albright said. “My grandpa goes, ‘That’s a good place to work,’” he added, mimicking his grandfather’s quiet pride.

After 37 years of service to CCEC, Albright will retire this April as the seventh CEO of the cooperative. He stepped into leadership in 2016 following the retirement of longtime CEO Scott Handy. Before that, Albright served as Vice President of Member and Energy Services for six years, building off his experience as a load management technician, marketing representative, marketing manager and key accounts executive.

Albright reflected fondly on those early years in the 1990s, when visiting with local contractors, builders and families planning new homes was his job. He would perform heat loss calculations with co-op members, helping them make the most efficient energy choices and consider incorporating electric heating and water heating into their building plans.

“Being a part of the ‘electric heat revolution’ was really gratifying. In probably 10 years, our members put in thousands of electric heating systems. We had an opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives,” he said.

Although Albright has grown from his boots-on-the-ground efforts of electricity marketing to the work of future-focused strategic planning, his focus has not wavered since that first year on the job in 1986.

“It’s always been about serving our members. Every day I wake up, that’s what I still think about. I look out here,” he said, gesturing to South Fargo from his office window, “and that’s our membership. That’s what we’re here for. And I never forget that when we make decisions.”

Leader for growth

CCEC hit a transformation point in 1997, when a historic blizzard, ice storm and flood knocked out power to thousands across the service territory and beyond. Albright says the long-term crisis response shaped the mentality of the cooperative and its employees moving forward.

“It really brought us together as a company,” he said. “We changed our focus and looked more at grid hardening and distribution resiliency, specifically for flood purposes. Before that year, things like that just didn’t happen. So, we had to prepare for next time. And it did happen again, and again. It was an interesting time in my career.”

Since moving into his leadership role, Albright has continued to work with the CCEC board of directors and Minnkota Power Cooperative (CCEC’s wholesale power supplier) to invest in solutions that keep co-op power reliable and affordable. He sits on Minnkota’s Power Supply Planning Advisory Committee to evaluate future power supply options. He has also guided CCEC toward leading the nation in reliability and supporting the deployment of a new technology called FLISR (fault location, isolation, and service restoration). The system acts as a self-healing network – if there is an outage, FLISR automatically senses where it is, isolates it and restores power around it, considerably reducing outage times. “That’s what technology can do. We need to continue to look at opportunities from a technology perspective to continue to provide exceptional service to our membership,” Albright said.

“In my years on the Cass County Electric board, I’ve continually witnessed that Marshal has the steady, unflappable demeanor a leader needs, no matter the topic or challenge,” said Glenn Mitzel, chair of the CCEC board of directors. “And he’s just personable. Those factors have led to his success.”

Albright knows CCEC’s collective success hinges on the continual growth of the community it serves. He has spent several years on the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation (EDC) board, most recently serving as board chair. Joe Raso, President and CEO of the Greater Fargo Moorhead EDC, says that in addition to the commitment Albright has put into his work as a volunteer leader, he also goes out of his way to support various EDC partnerships, such as the Valley Prosperity Partnership and the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce.

“He has always viewed his work from the broader regional perspective, and in doing so, has not only benefited the region but also the mission of Cass County Electric,” Raso said. “Marshal will be missed as an active leader in our region. I know his retirement won’t preclude his involvement in many things, but I’m hopeful the next Cass County Electric leader follows in his footsteps.”

Albright is ready to make room for that next CEO. He’s voiced the opinion that a new leader brings a new perspective, something that can benefit any company. When that time comes, Albright has no shortage of retirement plans. He will be living his fullest life, golfing, fishing, hunting and traveling with his wife, Andrea. He’ll have more time to spend with his parents, three sons and two grandchildren, all of whom live in the area.

But there will always be room for his co-op kin.

“I mean, it’s my family. It really is,” he said. “It’s one of those companies that you just want to stay with. It’s hard to explain that. But I think when you look at what electricity does for the members, and the conveniences it gives, it’s pretty cool to be supplying that.”


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