Catasauqua Press

Friday, July 10, 2020
George Cowitch George Cowitch

George C. Cowitch

Thursday, April 24, 2014 by ED PANY, Curator, Atlas Cement CompanyMemorial Museum in Columns

Essroc, Nazareth

Mr. George Cowitch graduated from Northampton Area High School in 1976 where he was a member of the track team. Upon graduation, he was employed at Lehigh Valley Dairy in the ice cream department and later, at Durkee Foods, making their tasty mustard. Unfortunately, both companies closed their local operations.

In 1990 he started his cement career at Coplay Cement, which constructed an ultra-modern plant in Nazareth, now Essroc.

He recalls, "I was hired by Mr. Rick Gaston, who was the labor gang foreman. We worked in every area of the plant." George progressed to the quarry operation, driving 50-ton stone trucks.

He said, "Old-timers Joe Albeck and Earl Hacker shared their experiences, enabling me to drive safely. Our old quarry had six levels and I saw it close as a new quarry was opened."

The quarry operated seven days a week with two shifts each day.

"We stress safety when it snows," he says. "We stop operations until all snow is removed from the roadways."

In 1997 George was assigned to a payloader. The giant machines move 18 tons with each bucket filling 80 ton trucks. George remembers Joe Payonk, quarry supervisor, who monitored his training, saying, "It took months before I was satisfied with my performance."

Today, the quarry consists of two pay loaders, four trucks, 12 truck drivers and six payloader operators. He landed fellow loader operators Terry Perenti, Rich Milheim, Mike Reph, Dennis Hoadley, Ron Pflugler, and Manager Lance Battersby, all fine men.

The present quarry is very efficient, a 11/2-mile belt conveys the stone from the quarry to the plant, thus removing hundreds of stone trucks from the highway, a plus for the community of Nazareth.

Mr. Cowitch was a student of this writer. He brings a strong work ethic to the plant each day, a 24-year veteran, he has not missed a day of work in 22 years, a great record, for a dedicated cement worker.

He said, "I enjoy each day at the plant and appreciate working as a team with great co-workers and supervisors." George has been married to the former Valerie Bankos for 34 years. They are extremely proud of daughter Jaclyn, sons George, Daniel, Corey and four grandchildren.

George utilizes his spare hours gainfully. In 1990 he started a lawn and landscape business which has grown by serving more customers each year.

Italcementi-Essroc continues to use the Saylor name on their products, honoring and remembering David Saylor one of the pioneers of the cement industry which is a revered chapter in Lehigh Valley history. I hope 2014 will be a safe and prosperous year for all my friends at Essroc.