by Jonathan Weaver
A West Hills business celebrated 40 years of manufacturing last week and three of its original employees.
SinterMet, LLC was one of the first companies to settle in Armstrong County’s West Hills Industrial Park in 1975. During their celebration with friends and family Friday afternoon, directors recognized Dave Cornish, Tom Walker and Mark Cippel for their dedication.
President and COO Paul Fleiner congratulated the three men and said several more 40-year anniversaries will be celebrated in the coming years.
“The number of employees with 30 or more years of experience is quite substantial – that’s an impressive statistic in today’s challenging workplace, especially considering our company’s relatively-small size, Fleiner said.
“Equipment and the facilities are important assets in any manufacturing plant (but) the asset that most determines success or failure of a company are the people. The employees of SinterMet drive our company to achieve excellence every day.”
All three men were hired after graduating from Lenape Technical School in Manor Township, July 7, 1975.
Dave Cornish, of Kittanning, works in the grind shop at SinterMet – finishing all the product to specific tolerances and specifications.
“My first goal was 30 (years) – it seemed like 10 more years went lickity-split,” Cornish said.
He said he’s sure the next 10 years will go just as fast, but isn’t sure what they will hold.
“That’s not my goal to be here the next 10, but hey, we’ll see what happens,” Cornish said.
Tom Walker, of Gilpin Township, also didn’t initially plan on being at SinterMet for 40 years.
“It just happened that way. When I started, I enjoyed the work – I was a grinder operator for 13 years and then I went into inspection and quality control – that’s what I do now.
“I’m constantly on the move and doing something different all the time. It’s like ‘Where did all the time go?’”
Walker is looking forward to retirement in four or five years in order to go camping more and spending time with his eight-year-old granddaughter, Hayden.
As well as Hayden, Walker’s father, Richard, daughter, Tara Malucci, and wife, Cindy, also celebrated the anniversary with Walker.
Cindy said her husband never comes home frustrated from work
“He always loved his work, talked about it all the time, and never had anything negative to say about it,” Cindy said.
This was Cippel’s first job outside of home
Cippel, of Ford City, is the company’s Quality Manager and celebrated the achievement with his wife, Lori, son Mark – a senior database administrator – and future daughter-in-law, Marie. He said the market will determine if he reaches the 50-year mark.
“I know too many people who worked all their life and then died. If I can afford it, I’m going to do it,” Cippel said. “I’m shooting for (retiring at the age of) 62 – which is in four years.
“Sometimes in my job, I’m the bad guy, but very few people are like that. Everybody here is very self-conscious of their jobs, Cippel added. “Some are engineers, some are masters of business – we have a diverse crowd.
“Our scrap rates are some of the lowest in the industry.”
Cippel said “quite a few” more employees graduated from Lenape Tech, with most residing in Armstrong County.
There are a total of about 75 employees in the company
“Our turnover rate is very low – people like to stay here,” Cippel said. “It’s a good place to work.”
Board of Directors Hiroshi Watanabe and Tomoyuki Hatano both also congratulated the three men.
Fleiner said the company first expanded in 1988 – when he was an employee. Hitachi Metals America took ownership in 2000 with plans to grow the business with more than $15 million in equipment.