The Kool Aid Man: JCL’s Chris Waite

Meet JCL Energy's new Product Specialist - a global problem solver with a knack for "busting" through problems.

Author: Jeff Coleman | May 23rd, 2023

Meet Chris Waite…

When Jim Landino deploys his “Kool Aid Man,” Chris Waite, Millennials might miss the reference. But it’s an apt description for one of the transformer business’ best problem solvers. Just in case the name eludes you, Kool Aid Man still lives on YouTube as the wall-breaking, jumbo-sized pitcher of sugar water rescuing parched kids on soccer fields and playgrounds. That’s just how many in the industry view Chris—an on-time, save-the-day hero on the other side of the wall. 

Waite recently joined the JCL team to jumpstart work on the company’s engineered products division. “Chris comes in with that low-key, smiling, Cool Hand Luke (Google that one too) persona, and calms the room down pretty quickly,” says Landino, who has known Waite for decades and just recently welcomed him to JCL Energy. Adding, “I think there are always people who think they know it all who are threatened by him, but he knows his stuff.” 

The Global Troubleshooter

Prior to his arrival at JCL, Waite was Landino’s global troubleshooter, sending him on assignments to hot spots like Brazil, Mexico, Texas, and Puerto Rico, where delivering power is often a Rubik’s Cube of complexities. His signature answer was the same two-word reply given by the Kool Aid Man in the 1970s commercials — “Oh yeah!”. 

Chris’ knowledge—which dates to the early 90s—doesn’t come with an edge. There’s no arrogance or know-it-all bravado. He just knows his stuff. Even Ellie, the JCL office dog, has taken a shine to him. 

For his part, Chris sees his role in simpler terms. He gives answers. “People want to know what works and what doesn’t work.” 

In 2017, his calm reputation was tested with a deployment to Honduras.

His mission was to set up a series of substations to deliver power to underserved areas in advance of the presidential election. It turned out to be a contest that proved to be one of the most contentious in Latin America that year. “They wanted power as fast as possible” to stabilize the capital city of Tegucigalpa and the city of San Pedro Sula—the number one and two most populous cities in Honduras. Two trips and a few months later, he got the job done.

In 2020, at age 49, Chris had a stroke and subsequent heart surgery. According to Waite, the health scares had little noticeable effect, other than making him calmer. According to his boss, Jim Landino, that’s part of what makes him special. “He never took life for granted.”