SYKESVILLE — Clair “Gus” Fye of DuBois is finally enjoying a well-earned retirement after 63 years at the same Sykesville-based powdered metal manufacturing company.
Gus started working for Symmco in 1955 and retired in January at 86 years of age.
When he joined Suymmco, he had just left the Army. He he was based in Germany during the Korean Conflict.
He was trained in the machine shop, where he recalls working in a dirt floor basement of a garage down the street from where the manufacturing facility is now located, at 40 S. Park St.
Traveling back in his memory, Gus recalls that in those early days the drinking fountain was a bucket of water with a dipper, shared by everyone. The office had an ash floor with a hump in the middle. His wife, Joan, worked there as a secretary. And there were no time clocks.
“We would make 500-1,000 pieces in an hour,” Gus said.
If workers spoiled something, they came in on their own time to “fix” it, and he recalls taking chances making parts that others would not undertake, like spherical bearings. He also remembers making rollers for file drawers and parts for Eastman Kodak cameras.
Since then, the company has expanded into a much larger facility, making custom-engineered components, as well as stock products like bearings, bushings, bars, and plates.
Gus grew with the company, which went from eight employees in a basement to the 120 employees it has today. During that time, he was promoted from a laborer to a key part of management on its production team. He is still called on for his extensive knowledge.
“My favorite part is that the company was swell,” Gus said. “I liked what I was doing and the company treated me very well.”
Now, in retirement, Gus says he misses the job and the employees who became his “second family,” however he doesn’t miss getting up in the morning. With his spare time, he is making plans to travel.
Kristina Kline, director of Human Resources at Symmco, said the company is fortunate to have a good retention rate and longevity with its employees — but none like Gus.
“He is definitely one of a kind,” Kline said.