The Felt Stripper

Discussion in 'Other Reminiscences' started by Frank Sanoica, Apr 9, 2018.

  1. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Very Well-Known Member
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    Penn Athletic Products Co. (Phoenix) hired me expressly to conceive, design, build, and implement in their plant, which manufactured tennis balls, equipment intended to lessen labor-intensity. Originally an Akron, Ohio Co., they had built a nice new plant out west, moving their hierarchy to run it. Much of their equipment had been designed in the '30s, and was very labor-intensive. My job was to build a machine to eliminate the tedious, carpal-tunnel syndrome producing wrist movements the workers underwent "stripping" tennis ball felt covers off a stack of them glued together by white rubber, which became the "seam". The white stuff was exceedingly sticky, adhering to itself (holding the stack of felts together) as well as anything else the stack touched. The "covering machines" had 2 cup-shaped cavities onto which the felt strips, pulled free one by one off the stack, were placed by hand. The cavities then clasped together, gluing the two dog-bone shaped strips to a rubber ball "center". I was hired after Penn had entered into contracts with several machine-builders who had failed to produce a viable design, after spending several hundred-thousand dollars.

    I built a prototype in 2 years; it worked. Then, during tough times, I was laid off, Reagan Recession, to wind up living with my wife in our hand-built cabin in the woods of Northern Arizona. During that year, Penn had built and installed 20 "Felt Strippers" using my blueprints. They then sent me a Certified letter offering me my job back. I knew that certain "security" features I had "designed-in" would thwart efforts by even experienced machine builders to remedy faults. I foolishly accepted, we moved all our belongings back to Phoenix. The following months were difficult, to say the least. Everybody, almost, hated me, except for a few very astute Maintenance Men, notably Bill Lopez, who admired me for having built a successful felt stripper, as well as our having endured living in the wild with no electricity, phone, or water.

    One guy, reviled by all, the "Master Mechanic", had been the only repair guy moved from Akron; a real conniving, back-stabber he was. I once tried to entice him out to the parking lot; I knew I would be in jail, but knew he was chicken-shit. He managed one weekend during a scheduled plant shut-down (plant ran 24/7), to "set me up" very strategically, in such a way that I could not complete my assigned installation of an automated machine. My boss, the Plant Engineer, doted on this guy, having had adequate wool pulled over his eyes over the years, as had all of Management, and questioned my abilities. I strode to H.R., where a new Manager had been implemented, and told him "I quit". Stammering, he paged the Maintenance Super, as well as a few others; my boss happened to be on vacation. They tried to imply I "couldn't just quit".........I told them to watch, and walked out the door.

    Slitting my own throat has always been one of my downfalls, but I simply could not take it anymore. My wife was furious; how would we make ends meet? By my building our own custom home, as it turned out.

    Thanks for sticking through this. Frank
     
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  2. Shirley Martin

    Shirley Martin Veteran Member
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    I'm disappointed. I thought you meant the other kind of stripper. :eek::p
     
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  3. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    Yeah, I was thinking svelt stripper.
     
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  4. Bobby Cole

    Bobby Cole Veteran Member
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    It would seem that everyone's brain, including mine, was sort of looking for a model type of uh yeah, one of those...........

    Back to the OP, we do find those kind of people everywhere and unfortunately they often wind up in management. Obviously you did the right thing Frank. Too much stress caused by an idiot on top of stress does not a good person make.............
     
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  5. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Very Well-Known Member
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    @Bobby Cole "Too much stress caused by an idiot on top of stress does not a good person make............."

    I, then, have seen too much stress...........
    Frank
     
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  6. Bobby Cole

    Bobby Cole Veteran Member
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    Yeah, promising everyone a stripper would stress me out too........................
     
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  7. Don Alaska

    Don Alaska Very Well-Known Member
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    I worked for the Feds for a while, and, while it was very difficult if not impossible to fire an incompetent, it was easy to promote them to a higher place where they couldn't do as much damage. That is in large part why the bureaucracy functions as it does.
     
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