Catasauqua Press

Monday, August 19, 2019
Contributed photoRodney Hartzell Contributed photoRodney Hartzell

Cement Worker of The Month

Wednesday, October 10, 2018 by ED PANY Curator, Atlas Cement Company Memorial Museum in Local News

Rodney Hartzell

Mr. Rodney Hartzell was reared in Nazareth, graduating from Nazareth High School in 1971. His first job was at a local textile factory, earning $3.50 per hour. In 1973, Rodney followed his three uncles and was hired at Nazareth Cement Company, starting on the labor gang.

One of the former managers was Mr. Paul Lentz. The plant, at one time, operated eight kilns. There were various jobs no longer found at cement plants. The roof cleaners, sweepers and dust collectors have been replaced by modern, clean technology.

The Nazareth plant was owned by Coplay Cement, which decided to construct a new plant on the site. As a result, Mr. Hartzell was laid off until the plant was completed. The plant ownership changed to Essroc in 1978 and to Lehigh Heidelberg in 2017.

Rodney returned in 1980 and worked in the labor department and quarry, later moving to the electric gang. He recalls old-timers Jim Roth, Clayton Biechy and Richard Fox, who shared their knowledge with him. Presently, he is a production technician.

Rodney said, “I spend each day checking plant equipment. There are 10 members in the department. I work with electrical components, which have become more complex in the 45 years I have been at the plant. Some problems are very challenging and difficult to diagnose. I enjoy my job and usually work alone. We have more problems in the summer than in the winter because some of the units are heat sensitive.”

One of his proudest memories was when he received a letter of commendation from the plant management for solving a kiln problem. He feels the management of the plant is much better today than in the past.

Mr. Hartzell speaks quietly and with a calm demeanor. Highly respected by his co-workers, he has a vast knowledge of the plant, gained by years of hands-on experience. He is truly a dedicated cement worker.

He has been married to the former Helen Sinott for 21 years. They met at Musikfest. They have three daughters, Christine, Amanda and Kelly. Mr. Hartzell enjoys fishing.

The family has vacationed in Canada for 35 years. They reside in Bethlehem. We wish Rodney a healthy future retirement, as he certainly deserves one.