Top Row, L-R: Dan Schuster (44 years of service); Cliff Shaffer (45 years) ; Doug Brenneman (44 years). Bottom Row, L-R: Joe Pinkle (45 years); Bob Saunders (48 years)
Ellwood City Forge is proud to unveil its new 25 Year Club recognition wall with the help of its five longest tenured employees, Bob Saunders (started September 1969; current position Nondestructive Evaluation Manager), Cliff Shaffer (October 1972; Heat Treat Crane Operator), Joe Pinkle (January 1973; Production Manager), Dan Schuster (September 1973; Millwright), and Doug Brenneman (November 1973; Machine Shop Crane Operator).
These gentlemen proudly recall how they got their start at what was then called “Ellwood Forge.” As a 19 year old, Joe Pinkle worked at the local potato chip plant, where he received no benefits. He tried repeatedly to gain employment at the Forge to no avail. When Joe’s coworker was offered a position at the Forge, Joe’s mother decided to take action and wrote a letter to Representative Frank Clark requesting a recommendation. Joe still has the congressman’s response, dated December 1972. It took an act of congress to get Joe into the Forge!
Dan Schuster had a slightly easier entry. Dan worked at Hazen’s Service Station. Bob Barensfeld, president and CEO of the Forge, would regularly pick Dan up at the station for the short drive to the office, then leave his car with Dan for a wash. When Dan married and Hazen’s was unable to offer insurance for his wife, Dan explained his predicament to Mr. Barensfeld. His attentive service must have made an impression because he was soon offered a position at the Forge.
ECF nearly missed out on Doug Brenneman. Doug’s father was a supervisor at George K. Garrett, manufacturer of metal washers. Doug was hired on a November Saturday at Garrett. In the meantime, Doug had applied to be a laborer at the Forge and received a call from Dale Kaufman for an interview. Doug was hesitant because he had been told the Forge would soon be laying off—why would he want to join a business that was about to layoff? Dale explained to Doug that the layoff was merely a regularly scheduled winter shutdown. Once he understood, Doug decided the Forge was his choice and he called Garrett’s right there from Dale’s office, letting them know he’d been hired at the Forge. He started night turn straight away, 11pm-7am that night, without any employment papers signed—times have changed! Looking back, Doug feels this was one of the best decisions of his life. As he explains, “it’s been a family.”
Cliff Shaffer remembers working as a dinky operator when he got started. One day the Small Press crew needed help running the crane, so they pulled Cliff in. Cliff recalls the Heat Treat crane operator, Tim Keul, training him for about twenty minutes, admonishing him to go slowly and be careful, and sent him on his way. Though the press crew were hot to move material quickly, Cliff followed Tim’s advice and took his time, keeping everyone safe. Cliff has had the opportunity to take the trainer’s role many times since then, coaching countless employees on crane.
Bob Saunders has the distinction of the longest service term of any Ellwood City Forge employee. In his 48 years on the job he has collected many stories; to hear his you’d best chat with Bob directly—his anecdote about searching the scrap pile for conduit may best be left a personal conversation! Times have certainly changed.
We want to express our heartfelt thanks to Dan, Doug, Cliff, Bob and Joe for their many years of hard work and camaraderie. Their service, and that of all our employees, form the cornerstone to success and the continued growth of Ellwood City Forge, now and into the future.