AP NEWS

Man marks 50 years still on job at tire cord fabric plant

September 23, 2018

DECATUR, Ala. (AP) — When Richard Jones, a graduate of Tennessee Valley High in Lawrence County, was hired at Goodyear Tire and Rubber, his plan was to work at the Decatur plant for a year to save up money for college.

He celebrated 50 years of employment on Wednesday at the same red-brick plant on 19th Avenue Southeast — purchased by Hyosung USA in late 2006.

“I love to work, I just love to work,” said Jones, who’s 72. “I’m not a house person. I have to” stay busy.

His work with Goodyear and then Hyosung at the tire cord fabric plant helped him support his family over the years, he said, and besides, he’s always liked his co-workers.

“I’m stuck here,” he said with a laugh.

Jones has worked a variety of jobs and worked both night and day shifts over the years. He is now a rework operator, redoing, if needed, any spools of the tire cord that’s woven into fabric rolls to be shipped to tire companies.

Terry Jones, a production manager at the plant, has worked directly or indirectly with Jones for the last 38 years.

“He’s dependable,” Terry Jones said. Other than taking some time off a couple of years ago after an injury, not involving work, “I don’t know of him not working a shift. That’s saying a lot.

“And he’s always got a smile for you,” Terry Jones said.

“He’s very valuable to this company,” said Terry Bearden, the area manager for tire cord, who has been Richard Jones’ direct supervisor for the last two years.

“He’s a standup guy,” Bearden said. “He’s always willing to help whatever you ask of him. He’s great with everybody. He takes his job seriously. He’s a very good operator.”

And Jones’ 12-hour shifts aren’t easy, requiring stooping, bending and working on a concrete floor.

“It’s a very physical job,” Bearden said.

Jones has weathered some downsizing at the plant, which at its peak with Goodyear had about 700 employees. The plant now has just over 200 employees.

Jones and his wife of 42 years, Louise, have four children and eight grandchildren.

“My whole 50 years, I have only been laid off three days,” he said. That happened long before the change in ownership, he said, and he was called back.

Even then, he wasn’t really concerned about losing his job because of seniority, he said.

“I was at the top of the list,” he said.

He said he also kept his job when Hyosung bought the Decatur plant and, later, when new machine technology was introduced there that meant a loss of jobs.

“I wasn’t in a danger zone,” Jones said.

Jones said he helped put together the new machinery when it came off the truck and, after it was installed, trained employees on its operation.

According to company officials, another employee will reach 50 years of employment in 33 months, then it will be another five years before anyone attains that milestone.

Jones already does minor repairs on his grandchildren’s cars and he figures that, when he does retire, he’ll probably do some mechanic work.

“My wife will have me lined up (with chores) every day for five years,” he joked.

For now, though, Jones has no immediate plans to leave.

“If the opportunity comes, I’ll just say, that’s it.”

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Information from: The Decatur Daily, http://www.decaturdaily.com/decaturdaily/index.shtml

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