Dusty Jobs Issue 7 is the third quarter of the year. Check out the articles! Charlie is back with an article about food, and we interview one of our welders, Richard Matters. If you would like a printed hard copy of this issue of the quarterly newsletter, contact your Imperial System Sales Rep.
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Richard has been welding at Imperial Systems for twelve years, and in various other jobs for eighteen years before that. He is a graduate of Jamestown High School. Outside of work he enjoys relaxing with his wife and spending time with his three kids and eight grandkids.
Q: What date did you start working at Imperial Systems?
A: September 17, 2006
You said it was only that first bay?
A: Yeah. It was probably ten or so guys working. The road crew was there.
Q: That would be pretty tight.
A: Yeah it was for everything we build, like us with the big BRFs. You see how much room the fourteen footers take up here. It was tight, but we did it.
Q: How long have you been welding?
A: Oh jeez. Twenty-five or thirty years. I had thirteen years in at Trinity Industries, twelve here, and five at Tri‑County. I was welding dumpsters and stuff, rebuilding them. Then I worked a couple other places. There was a rail division down in New Castle. I didn’t work there very long because it was too far of a drive from my house. It was an hour and a half each way.
Q: Did you go to trade school?
A: No. When Trinity shut down we did get to go to school. You could keep your unemployment because they moved out of the country and went to Mexico. So they put up a school and you could draw your unemployment while you were in school. Even when I started at Trinity they put me through weld school at Mercer Vo-Tech. It wasn’t a long class, thirty days or something like that. It was heavier. Rail cars. It was big.
Q: How many kids do you have?
A: Three. Two girls and a boy. I’ve got eight grandkids. Two are twin boys.
Q: Do you like any sports?
A: I watch a lot of football. I’m a big Steelers fan.
Q: You got that question correct.
A: I’m a little unhappy with them right now.
Q: What do you do for fun?
A: We usually sit down back. We built a big pavilion and we usually sit down there, me and the wife, drink beer and listen to the radio, build a fire.
Q: What kind of music do you like?
A: Country. Willie 95. They’ve changed country so much. Its more getting into pop or something.
Q: Do you ever go to concerts?
A: Nah. Once I went up to Crawford County and George Jones was there. It was a pretty good concert. Loretta Lynn was there too that night, but she wasn’t feeling good. She had laryngitis and was having trouble singing.
Q: Do you have any projects at home that you do?
A: All the time. It seems like the wife always has something for me to do!
Q: You ever go to any football games or anything?
A: No, I always wanted to, but usually I say “Why would I want to go watch that live when I could sit at home and watch it with no crowd?” And usually its too cold, too. I don’t want to be out there in the freezing weather. Then, when you drink like I do you can’t afford to go there with the price of their beer, jeez.
Q: You’re just a good country guy, huh?
A: That’s pretty much it. I don’t bother no one, no one bothers me. That’s what I like. We have a lot of parties though. We have a big Fourth of July party every year. We’ve been doing that for about twenty years now. We invite a bunch of people and get fireworks. Seems like it keeps getting bigger every year. More and more people come, and more fireworks we have to buy. But its fun. We have a lot of fun. We’re out in the country enough that no one bothers you either, thats whats nice.
Q: What do you think about being in the magazine?
A: It’s good. It gets it out.
Q: We’re showing off our employees. We’re proud of you guys. We want you to be known for the work you’ve done. It’s because of you guys that this place…
A: It goes! And that’s good. We need it to keep going for a long time, hopefully.
Q: Do you have anything else you want to say?
A: I do appreciate having the opportunity to work here. I appreciate that. And Jeremiah’s real fair about everything, as far as I’m concerned. He’s a good guy, and good to his people too. There ain’t too many places where on holidays you leave early and they pay you for the rest of the day and stuff like that. I’ve never heard of any companies doing that, not that I worked for.
Russ has seen it all when it comes to dust collectors. If you have a question that no one else can answer, then you go to Russ. Chances are he knows. Russ has been with the company nearly since the beginning. He now leads the Service and Installation side of the company. Usually when you need Russ the most, you can find him on the other side of the country working on a system. When he is not out on business, Russ likes to spend his time with his wife and three daugters. Before Imperial Systems, Russ also served for his country as a Marine.
Q: You were one of Imperial Systems first employees, right?
A: Jeremiah started the company in March of 2003. He had about 4 or 5 people working for him. I came on in September and now all of the original people are no longer with Imperial Systems. So I’m the longest standing employee.
Q: How many different titles have you had while working here?
A: Fabricator, welder, painting, plasma programmer and operator, drafting, shop superintendent, service technician and Support Services Manager now. A little bit of everything.
Q: How did you get into doing the installs?
A: When I got into the service side, at the time I was the plant manager but it became evident that we needed someone to do the service who was knowledgable with the product and I was the only one qualified. So Jeremiah and Chalmer approached me and asked me if I would be willing to move into the service management position to where I can over see and conduct the service and maintenance on our equipment.
Q: You have been all over the country doing installs, where has your favorite place to visit been?
A: I guess the nicest places to see are out west. Oregon is pretty. Its nice to see out there and how its a lot different than here. When you get out to other areas the scenery is a lot different than what we’re used to. Its neat to see.
Q: Not only have you been all over the country for work but you have been all over the world while you were in the Marines. What countries have you been to?
A: When I was in the Marine Corps I did a Mediterranean Sea float, so I went to Spain, France, Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Indonesia. I also spent six months in Okinawa, and during that time we spent almost a month in South Korea.
Q: What made you want to be a Marine?
A: It was just something I always wanted to do when I was a kid. I just decided that being in the Marine Corps Infantry was just something that I wanted to do. I always liked guns and shooting stuff so I thought it would be kind of fun. So I did it, and it was an interesting job. I wanted to do the Marine Corps to be the best. A friend of mine had been talking about going into the Marine Corps at the time, so I think he kind of convinced me as well.
Q: What was your job as a Marine?
A: I was a rifleman and worked in the infantry companies as a soldier. We did various jobs on the side. I was an ammo driver and drove humvees, but the main job revolved around infantry.
Q: You knew Jeremiah even before you were a Marine, right?
A: Yes. When I was about fifteen years old one of my close friends moved to Grove City, and when he started school in Grove City he became friends with Jeremiah and thats how I became friends with Jeremiah.
Q: Do you have a lot of childhood memories or shenanigans?
A: Yeah. We did a few shenanigans over the years.
Q: Tell me the history of how you got hired.
A: At the time I was working for CCX as a driver and I was also going to school at night for mechanical engineering. They had a meeting to discuss changes that involved the loss of my bid start times. It would have interfered with my school schedule. So I called Jeremiah and told him that he needed to hire me and I was ready to start for him in two weeks. And he went with it.
Q: What other hobbies do you have outside of work?
A: These day mostly revolve around my kids. I have three daughters and they take up most of my time and energy. They are six, four, and three. If I ever get free time I do some shooting and hunting.
Q: What do you think about how the company’s has been growth since you’ve been here? You’ve seen the whole thing, right?
A: Just a couple guys in a small shop to where we are now is amazing. The company has evolved so much over the years. It was in like a garage when I first started and now its a well established facility. Its been really neat to see the evolution. When we started at the shop in Grove City, it had wood floors and the weld shop portion of that building was tiny. Some of our components had to be built on the road because they were too big to fit through the doors.
Q: You’ve been here at Imperial Systems pretty much since the beginning, right?
A: I started when we were still over in Grove City. Me, Russ, and Steve are the three still left from that original crew. I’ve been here twelve years. I started off doing welding and then did fabrication, and did a little bit of everything. In the past year I’ve been doing a lot of field work and traveling.
Q: How has the company grown since you started?
A: It’s grown like crazy. When I was in Grove City and we were moving to the Jackson Center place, I’d work ten-hour days all week and then go with Russ to Jackson Center and work on the new place. And it didn’t take long before we started to outgrow that.
Q: What do you think about the new building?
A: It was totally necessary for us to be able to grow. We’re already just about full. Since we moved in back in January things are starting to get settled in and they’re running a lot smoother.
Q: How much more do you see us growing?
A: The way things are growing I could see us outgrowing this building someday. We keep getting more and more orders for equipment.
Q: What are your favorite things to do here, since you do some of everything?
A: I like running the plasma table, and I like doing fitting and welding. I run the forklift, and now I do a lot of field work so I’m off traveling around a lot. You get to see some interesting things out there.
Q: What would you tell people about working here?
A: We have a lot of fun working here. Maybe a little too much sometimes. It’s a really good bunch of guys.
Q: And you’re still happy working here after twelve years?
A: Absolutely. It hasn’t been perfectly smooth sailing for the entire twelve years and we’ve had our ups and downs, but it’s a great place to work.
Q: And when you’re not here, you’re at your farm.
A: That’s right. My dad’s the third generation and I’m the fourth generation on that farm. I’ve worked there since I was a kid. We didn’t have sitters… we just went to the farm. If I’m not at work, that’s where I am.
Q: And you’ve got a lot going on there right now with all the baby goats, right?
A: We had triplets the other day. We’re bottle feeding one of them. We had eleven babies out of the five goats I bought on my last trip.
Q: What are you going to do with all these goats?
A: They’re meat goats, Boer goats. They originated in Africa. They can get up to 200 pounds. There’s a big demand for goat meat in some places.
Q: How many goats do you plan on having?
A: My dad and I are still talking about that one. A lot, I know that. My oldest kid, my nine-year-old, is starting 4H this year. He’s got two goats. The younger ones will start here pretty soon.
Q: So you’ve got ducks, chickens, horses, cows, goats, pigs…
A: And my dog, Molly. She’s a chocolate lab. She’s my farm dog. She minds me and no one else, and I love it.
Q: And you’ve got your tractors.
A: I’m into the Mercer County Antique Power Association, antique farm equipment, antique tractor pulls. I have a tattoo of my first tractor. Took a picture of it and took it in to them.
Q: So you’re passing on the farming tradition to the fifth generation?
A: Of course I am!