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Memorable People I've Work With

(if you aren't on the list and you think you should be, don't despair, I'm still working on it)

Austin Pyle

Austin really belongs in a different category than on this page about interesting people. AP is the best and most long lasting friend I've had from my days in Lexington.

We worked in the same department my first two years at IBM. Austin is a little older than me and had a wife and house and daughter and he befriended me and had me out to his farm to help with different projects (and of course meals). I really appreciated his friendship. I helped with cutting and hanging tobacco, and worked on different projects in his house (built some curved stairs, and a rock wall - I can remember those two). He kept me abreast of his many projects and we would often discuss them at length.

AP is a very resourceful guy. He has machinists skills and has gradually over time made a very nice estate for he and his wife. He can make much out of little and so has been able to make a much nicer place for himself than what he could have just bought outright. He's not afraid to take on any kind of project. His warm personality has won him many friends with various skills and knowledge and they are resources to him (of course it goes both ways - he's always helping his friends with various projects too).

Shortly after meeting AP, he invited me and Connie to church. I don't exactly know how long it was before we went, but we went and tried it. Connie began going regularly and accepted Christ. Eventually, I did too. So AP was instrumental in my getting right with God.

We've kept in touch and I've stopped in to visit Austin and Virginia several times. They always do and always have made me feel right at home.

JT Logan (Nanner Fingers)

JT was my first manager when I moved from Product Engineering into Facilities Engineering. JT had stared with IBM on the assembly line, went to college and became an engineering manager. He was a very personable fellow, always smiling. That combined with his long employment at IBM, meant that he seeming knew everyone. You walked down through the plant with JT, it would take an hour to walk the length of the plant, normally a 10 minute walk. He had to stop and talk to everyone. He was always buying or selling. I remember that tobacco stick and pumpkins were a couple of his specialties. So you would take five or six steps, meet someone he knew, stand and wait while JT talked for 5 or 10 minutes and then go five or ten steps and start the process over. You heard some good stories in the process. Oh, his nickname was "Nanner Fingers" because his fingers were huge like bananas hanging off his hands.

I think the very first project I had when I moved to facilities was to enlarge a manager's office. The manager was going to stay in the office while we enlarged it. I figured the contractors had some idea of how to do this. JT came and got me the next day as he'd gotten a call from the manager yelling about what was going on. JT just said the guy had called complaining and did I have time to walk down with him to see what was going on? Did I have time? He's my manager, you know I have time. And I figure I'm in deep trouble, screwing up the first job I get.

When we got down to the office and looked in, I knew I was cooked. It was a shambles. There was dry wall dust and ceiling insulation all over. There were foot prints on the guys desk where the contractors had been walking on it to get into the ceiling to do electrical work. The guy still had papers and stuff out on his desk! JT just kept smiling and maybe said, "Huh." He commented on how stupid the manager was to leave his stuff out on the desk. Then he suggested that I talk with the contractors and see if they couldn't clean it up and cover things up from there on. I have no idea what JT told the manager, but that was the end of it. The office was completed a few days later and I went on to the next job. Never heard another word about it. JT was a great manager.

Don Lyle

Don worked with me in Facilities Engineering. He is a car buff and a racing fan, having grown up in Virginia in the heart of racing country (at the time, NASCAR was mostly a southern phenomenon, not of national interest like it is now). Don introduced me to racing. I went to a lot of different races with him, which I would have never done on my own. I really enjoyed that. We had some wild experiences on those trips.
- On the way to Richmond, IN, I started to pass a car and realized I might not have enough space. Don kind of made a signal that he was worried about it, which caused me to panic and hit the brakes. The car spun to the left and then to the right and off the road on the right side. The front tires were on the road, and the back tires were down in the ditch. We didn't get hit by any cars and Don said, "We made it." I'll never forget that.
- We took a bus trip to the races at Charlotte. There were two buses and some how we got on the one with all the rowdy drunks. It was miserable. So when we got ready to leave the race track at Charlotte, we tried to get on the other bus and the people on there wouldn't let us. So we had to go back to the bus with all the drunks. Well, they had been drinking all day and got on the bus and figured they didn't need to use the restroom before they left because the bus had a toilet on it. But what they didn't know was that the bus driver had not emptied the toilet tank. About 30 minutes down the road, the toilet was full and people had to pee. They started begging the bus driver to stop and let them use th toilet. Finally the bus driver stopped along the interstate and opened the valve and let it drain on the side of the road.

Paul "Wubba" Harmatuk

Pauly is another car friend from Facilities Engineering days. He had lots of car experience. He was from Long Island, New York and had a bit of a New York accent and personality. In NY, somehow he got the nickname "Rubber", which with the NY accent is "Wubba" so that's what we called him.

Wubba loved junk yards and I went to several different ones with him. He could climb up on the hood of a car and look out over the junk yard and spot what he was looking for. One time we were driving I65 in Indiana going to Indianapolis and he looked over and saw a junk yard way off in the distance. He said, "It looks like there are some '68 Buicks and Olds in there. We're going there next weekend. Sure enough we did (another 2 hour drive over and 2 hours back home) and sure enough there were some '68 Buicks and Olds and he bought some parts.

Paul had a Datsun 510 and was planning to put a little aluminum Buick/Olds V8 engine into it. He was collecting pieces for this engine in the crawl space of his house. First a set of pistons then I don't know what.. I know we got a bell housing at a junk yard way over in Indiana.

One day, Wubba says, "Hey Cadillac, be at Charlie Tuna's house on Saturday. We're rebuilding the engine in his son's car." He didn't ask if I could be there, or if I was willing, he just said, "Be there." I had something else going on that day, but did get there in the afternoon and helped put it back in the car and get it running. Wubba loved to help other people with their cars.

He had a problem with his Buick station wagon. One of his sons had put a penny in the cigarette lighter and it burned up some wiring in the dash wiring harness. He brought if over one Saturday and we took the whole dash board out and fixed it. I never thought we'd get it fixed, but Wubba was fearless, and we just tore into and get it fixed. That taught me to not be afraid.. tear into it.

Kurt Reibling

Kurt & I were about the same age and sat next to each other. He lived pretty close to me and so we started car pooling to work. We got along great and became really close friends. We did lots of things together, but to show how well we got along, we did a house painting partnership. We painted the trim on his house and then the trim on my house (or vice versa - don't remember which for sure). In my opinion, you have to be pretty good friends not to worry about who spent more time on who's house, etc. We never did. We just enjoyed working together.

Bernie Collet

Bernie was a Senior SE in the Mansfield office. Bernie had worked for IBM as an SE for over 30 years. IT was just intuitive to him. When IBM started selling the RISC System, which used a Unix based operating system, Bernie almost instinctively knew how to make it work. He wouldn't tell anyone that he know how to work with it, because he didn't want to be the guy responsible for it, but I caught him upstairs one day working on the machine. I commented on the fact that he knew how it worked, and he said something about it being like the old S360 operating system and that they hadn't invented anything new.

Frank Scoles

Frank was a Senior SE (Systems Engineer) in the Mansfield office. He handle United Telephone, which was our biggest account. He was also very interested in education, so he made himself the SE for the education territory. When I was assigned the education territory is when I first started working with Frank.

Frank had a natural interest in people and the people he worked with loved him for it. He was always interested in their families, their background, etc. Frank always said there aren't any technology solutions to management problems, but there are management solutions to technical problems. He worked on that basis. He always said he was the least technical guy in the office (and he may well have been) but he managed to implement some very technical and large projects at the phone company by using good management techniques. Frank understood people better than machines, and he knew that was more important to what we did. He proved it to me with the Cookie Monster.

There was a fellow at the phone company who handled the financial aspect of the IT operation. All purchases had to be approved by him. He couldn't buy anything, but he could surely prevent the purchase of something. He loved to eat and he made it well known that he appreciated vendors who took him out to eat.

I had worked on the sale of a new processor for some months and had everyone's approval for the purchase, except the Cookie Monster. We were down to the last couple of days of the quarter and I needed the order. All of IBM was expecting the order. I asked Frank what we could do. He thought for a minute and then said, "Let's go get a bag of those chinese cookies from xxx bakery (don't remember the name) and go see Randy." I was almost shocked that Frank thought just going with cookies would get the order, but I was at a loss as to anything else to do. We did just as Frank suggested and the next day we had the order. Frank understood people.

Bob Guisinger

Bob worked harder at selling than any salesman I've ever known. He worked hard to understand what the customer wanted and needed and then worked hard with IBM to try to get what the customer needed.

Bob is a very intelligent guy and very witty. He can always find the humor in any situation, and he loves to laugh. His laugh at full blast is almost a shriek.

A classic Guisinger wit went like this.. The Mansfield sales team spent the whole morning learning about IBM's new MVS (multiple virtual storage) operating system. They are going to lunch and see this street person walking down the street and Bob quips, "I wonder if he understands the advantages of multiple virtual storage?" It probably looses some of the effect just written here, but it was hilarious at the time.

Fred Pfau

Fred was the senior sales rep in the office when I came to Mansfield. I never really worked with him at IBM (after he retired from IBM, he and I collaborated on several different projects and we became good friends), but I certainly knew him and was aware of his skills and his antics. When he was near retirement, he really didn't put a lot of effort into selling. From years of experience he knew what he had to do and what he didn't need to do and could deliver a decent annual performance with seemingly little effort (of course he had the help of the very capable Frank Scoles). Fred would sort of disappear for a day or two at a time. People would be saying, "Where's Fred?" Then he might call and talk with Frank and say that he was on his way to Chicago, working as a substitute pilot for Shiloh Corporation, copiloting their corporate jet.

Jere Cline

I worked with Jere selling networking hardware. Jere understood his products and had excellent rapport with the customers. After I worked with him I worked for him when IBM made him a manager. That sometimes is a receipt for disaster but in our case it worked out just fine. Jere was good manager. We pioneered a new way of doing the technical sales job that included installing what we sold. It worked out well for IBM and our customers and I really enjoyed doing it. Jere & I always got along well and we became good friends (we got to travel to France together with our wives for a week), and still keep in touch somewhat via Sametime. He's now a manager in Raleigh.

Pam Boyd

Pam & I worked together selling networking hardware. Pam had great rapport with her customers. She had the ability to "believe her own lies," which is a trait of the consummate salesperson. In spite of her exaggerations, the customers liked her. Pam thought a lot of my technical ability I guess. I always said that if a customer said the biggest problem they had was the plumbing in the building, Pam would say, "Mark can fix that. Mark specializes in plumbing." Sometimes I thought, "Oh my gosh.. how am I going to do that." We always managed to get through whatever the customer wanted us to do though.

Ashley Taylor

Ashley and I worked installing network hardware. I was sort of training him. He was a fast learner and contributed plenty to what we were doing. We just always joked around and had a good time. He knew when to be serious and when to have fun and so it was always a pleasure to work with him. We kept in touch for long time after we no longer worked together. Haven't talked with him lately though. I think I enjoyed working with Ashley more than anyone I've worked with. We just had fun and got a lot of work done.

Bill Turner

He was helping me with Honda. He would go there late at night, make changes to the network while I helped him over the phone. He was courageous to do that.

Steve Woodbury

Steve and I have a lot in common. We both started with IBM the same year (within a couple of months of each other), we're both the same age and our kids are about the same age. We both like cars and guns. But none of that is what makes Steve a memorable person. I just really enjoyed working with him. He was great to work with. We did a couple of customer installation engagements and we taught a bunch of seminars together. Steve is always looking for how he can contribute. He's always pitching in and trying to make things better. He was a pleasure to work with because of that.

On January 20, 2009, I started hearing about a "resource action." Before the day was over I heard Woody had got it. I was really sad about that. Very, very sad. I called him the next day and he was really up beat and matter of fact about it. Not resentful at all. He's a class act for sure.

Great Customers

Some of the customers I've worked with have been memorable.
- Chris Gribbon - probably the first customer that became a friend. We just always got along well and respected each other

- Jim Beidler & Joe Gaines at Columbus State Community College - These guys wanted ATM networking and we just hit it off from the beginning and they bought a bunch of stuff from me, and I hung in with them and spent a lot of time and made it all work for them.