I never wanted to post this picture. Because Federal-Mogul St. Johns is history, I feel I have to report all the history I have on it. That’s me manning my Bridgeport Vertical Mill. The picture was taken by Mike Asher with my A-1 Canon camera. I always say my mill because I ran it from the day it came in the building brand new. We had a way about us, of claiming a machine as our own, and you can believe I took good care of it. Olympian Tool originally ordered it but when the time came for the delivery, the economy went in the tubes for them.
I wouldn’t say I was a great Toolmaker; I leave that title to Rod Andrus, Stanley Wassa, and Mark Shepler. Still, I wasn’t bad.
Since the closing of Federal-Mogul I’ve had time to reflect on the subject, plant managers. No matter what anybody says, History will always judge us and them. We’ve had some great plant managers and we’ve had stinkers. All of them left their mark.
The one that comes to mind today is Bob Claycomb. Bob was known as a hardhead and lacked people skills. As we look back on him, I think he was one of our best plant managers. Had he been plant manager of the St. Johns plant at the time of the decision to close the plant. I think he would have gone down with the ship fighting to keep it afloat. That’s the mark of a good captain. Bob did with the plant like we did on the floor with our machines; he claimed it as his own.
As for the plant managers who followed Bob, one went to China, one took Bob’s old job (I think), one disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle, and one went back to Greenville.
I have a picture of every plant manager except for Mike Craig. He okayed my taking it, but we never touched base.