Faces of Public Power: David Schlabach, The Birthday Gift


David Schlabach, Senior Programmer Analyst at ElectriCities, took on a fun DIY project for his son on nights and weekends during the stay-at-home order. Hear it from him, but only if you’re ready for some serious inspiration!

Nice to Meet You

“I am a Senior Programmer Analyst with experience ranging from medical claims editing to laboratory management and pallet manufacturing. I received a Computer Science Degree from UNC Asheville and an Animation Degree from School of Communication Arts. I am both a commercial pilot and a licensed drone operator, as well as a ground and flight coordinator for the Bandit Flight Team. With each new position I always end up as a problem solver, tasked with finding ways to streamline current processes so our staff can focus on the customer experience. For example, lately I’ve been tasked with improving the billing experience. I’ve developed a number of tools that allow billing and load management to generate various reports in seconds compared to the hours of manual work it took before.”

The Birthday Gift

“One day I was talking to our neighbor and he asked if my son would be interested in their son’s old Power Wheels® car. I said sure, and the timing was perfect, since my son Henry’s fifth birthday was right around the corner. The car was in pretty good shape, but I wanted to turn it into something really special — I decided to make it into Lighting McQueen from Pixar.”

“Like most projects, this one began with a good cleaning: I wiped down the #24 Jeff Gordon replica and vacuumed it. Then came the research: I looked into the various McQueen paint schemes to find one that Henry would like and that was feasible for me to pull off. I got the right supplies and set to work breaking down the car. (TIP: Be sure to take pictures before you break the car down! It helped me put everything back together easily.)”

“Up next was some custom craft work. The car’s original bumper had indented headlights that I completely filled in with Bondo. I sanded, primed, and painted all of the pieces of the car. I hand-painted details such as the inside of the wheels and the car’s ‘eyes.’ I got creative with other details, such as using aluminum duct tape to create the gas cap.”

“This was to be a birthday surprise, so I was doing everything under a curtain of secrecy, only working on the car when Henry was asleep or otherwise preoccupied with schoolwork. I didn’t let any moments go to waste. At night, when it was too dark to paint, I would use a projector and contact paper to mask off lettering and numbers.”

“The project was challenging! I had an issue with getting the paint to stick to the car’s plastic material and with various masks pulling the base coat off. I had to sand everything down and restart, but it was well worth it in the end.”

“The day for the big reveal finally came. Henry loved it! He posed like a racecar driver without any prompting, and couldn’t wait to take the car for a spin.”

“I picked the car up from our neighbor right before COVID-19 precautions went into effect, so the timing was perfect. This project was so much fun for our family, and for the birthday boy!”


We Want to Hear from You!

We want to shine a light on the folks who keep the lights on, the faces behind the public power that drives our communities. We’ll be sharing a few stories about our team here at ElectriCities, from what inspires us to some of our favorite hobbies.

But this isn’t just about us. We want to hear from you! Do you have an employee who goes above and beyond? What about a team member or leader with an impressive extracurricular accomplishment? Let us know by sending your stories and ideas here.

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