Catasauqua Press

Sunday, June 25, 2017
Jack R. Santo Jack R. Santo

Cement Worker of the Month

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 by ED PANY Curator, Atlas Cement Company Memorial Museum in Local News

Jack R. Santo

Mr. Jack R. Santo was reared in Nazareth. His family has a long history in the cement industry. Many relatives worked at the Penn Dixie Cement Company. Jack graduated from Nazareth High School in 1973 where he played both baseball and basketball. He continues to follow the motto of Tony Reluas his basketball coach: “Never give up; if you work hard, you will benefit.”

After attending Northampton Community College, Jack started his cement career of 43 years at Coplay Cement Company in Nazareth on May 20, 1975. The plant later became Cement Franchise, Essroc, and is currently Lehigh Heidelberg.

“I was hired by Mr. Dean Sandbrook who was president of Coplay Cement,” he said. “Dean was very highly respected in the industry. My first job was a conveyor tender when the plant had eight kilns. Today we have one.

“In 1978, there was a massive layoff when Coplay constructed a new ultramodern facility. I then worked as a route driver for Mrs. Smith’s Pies until 1980, when I was recalled to work in the new plant. I was back as a laborer, truck driver and equipment operator and later was promoted to the maintenance gang,” he said.

Old-timers who shared skills with him were Charlie Correll, John Rundle, George Reenock, Dan Creyer and Dan Mason.

The maintenance team consists of 19 skilled men who keep the plant operating safely and efficiently. Supervisors are Mike Sonka, George Radecsky and Jeff Cabrera, all fine men.

“We continue to update the plant to stay competitive,” Mr. Santo said. “We have two outages each year to service each section of the plant. The work is challenging, for there are always new additions to service.”

Safety is stressed.

“Safety is 100-percent better than it was 40 years ago,” he said. “Each day we have a brief safety meeting before each shift. Our safety director is Brad Davis.”

The workers are represented by the Teamsters Union; the popular local president is Mr. Cliff Rose.

“I enjoy working with my coworkers and have spent countless hours and days working with them,” Mr. Santo said. “The cement industry has been good to me and my family by providing us with a good living.”

Jack has been married to the former Diane Purdy of Wilson Borough for 42 years. They are proud of children Jason, Josh, Justin, Jeremiah, Danielle and Desiree and seven grandchildren. He is an avid Phillies and Philadelphia and Nazareth Eagles fan.

The friendly family resides in Wilson Borough. Mr. Santo each day faithfully continues the cement heritage of his family.

We hope Jack and all my friends at Lehigh Heidelberg have a safe and prosperous year.