Pictured: Matt Comer, vice president for CenMac Metalworks, Presenter and Welding Instructor Levi Retterer,
Superintendent Dr. Charles Speelman, and CenMac employee and TRCC Board Member Mick Landon
Introduction by Levi Retterer
Tonight it is my honor and privilege to present a Lautenslager Distinguished Service award to CenMac Metalworks. I was lucky to have been an employee of CenMac Metalworks for several years before I started teaching at Tri-River Career Center full time, and still look back at all of the valuable things that I was able to learn during my time there that has really helped me through my career.
CenMac was started in 1960 under the name Central Machine, and it was primarily a metal stamping and tool and die company that supplied several local companies with hinges and latch mechanisms.
Jerry Galbreath joined Central Machine in 1994, and his son Rod joined the company in 1998 and took over as president in 2012. At that time, they were in a small 7,000 square foot shop at the intersection of st rt 309 and st rt 98 and had 13 employees including Rod and Jerry. In that time between 1998 and present day, the company has grown and continues to prosper.
When they built their new manufacturing facility in 2003 on Fairground street, I remember Rod reminiscing that he did not know how they were going to fill all 25,000 square feet of new space. Fast forward to today and they have expanded that same shop to 68,000 square feet and are breaking ground on an additional 25,000 square feet. They have gone from having a handful of customers who made up 90% of their sales, to now having their largest customer be only 33% of their sales and no other single customer being more than 6% of total sales, showing how much they have diversified since their inception.
Today the shop employs over 90 individuals and operates on two shifts. This includes around 20 skilled tradesmen and women in the welding department, a majority of which are TRCC graduates. (I often like to joke with Rod that when I was there, the welding department was made up of one other gentleman and myself, and since I left to come here as a teacher, it took 19 people and 9 Robotic welders to replace me. Rod always reminds me that that may not exactly be the case…)
CenMac is a shop that many people in the trades strive to work for. They provide living wage jobs and benefits to their employees and have a culture within the shop that makes it a great place to work. It is never uncommon to see the president and Vice president out on the shop floor running the scrubber or cleaning things up when they need to, and whenever I am lucky enough to be able to stop in and visit the shop to check on students that are on advanced placement, I always look at how the employees react when the boss is walking around the floor. No one acts nervous around the boss and you can tell that there is a mutual level of respect amongst all that work there. I have no doubts that this is a huge reason for their continued growth and success.
Throughout the years, CenMac has supported Tri Rivers in a multitude of ways. They have donated practice materials to the welding program which is crucial to our operations. They also employ a number of our alumni from our adult and secondary programs as well as current students who are on advanced placement. I am always able to rest easy knowing that students that we send there to work will be treated fairly, not be taken advantage of and will be in a safe working environment. Numerous members of our advisory boards are employees of CenMac metalworks and they are always willing to give us valuable feedback and insights as to what our program needs to provide to our students to make them successful and employable. We also have a member of our very own board of education who is employed at CenMac, Mickey Landon.
We are proud to be industry partners with CenMac Metalworks and are thankful for all of their support over the years. Rod was unable to join us tonight, But it is my pleasure to present this distinguished award to Vice President Matt Comer and our own Mickey Landon.