Employees from the Riverton sawmill gathered July 30 at the Cliton M. Hedrick Community Center in Riverton for a catered barbecue lunch and to celebrate Tommy Harper’s 50th anniversary with Allegheny Wood Products.
The Riverton sawmill is the original AWP location. John Crites Sr., founder and chief executive officer of AWP, shared stories about starting the company 50 years ago with the Riverton sawmill. He told how the first man he offered a job to was Harlan Harper, Tommy’s father. Crites said that Harlan agreed to work for the newly formed AWP if John hired his son, Tommy, also.
Since the sawmill site had laid idle for several years, the first task before the men was to clear the sawmill area of grown-up trees and brush. Once operational, Tommy Harper began running a loader in the log yard. He unloaded logs and separated them by species, as well as loading logs on the sawmill deck.
“One thing about Tommy, he took great care of his equipment,” said Crites. “We had more than our share of issues and concerns when we started but Tommy proved to me that I never had to worry about him and the responsibilities I had given him. Tommy has been a great employee for 50 years.”
Dustin Sponaugle, sawmill manager, presented Harper with a plaque from the current Riverton employees recognizing his 50 years.
John Crites, II, president of Allegheny Wood Products, thanked Harper for his 50 years of service and presented him with a bonus check.
“We’re fortunate to have a lot of great employees here at AWP and this is truly an honor to recognize Tommy here today with what is a remarkable milestone,” said John Crites II.
Operations vice president, Tom Plaugher, presented Harper with an AWP 50th anniversary jacket and added, “Tommy is a great example of a man who shows up to work every day and cares about his work. I was fortunate in my time with AWP to be the manager of the Riverton sawmill for a while, and I echo what John Sr. has said about Tommy. I never had to worry about the responsibilities that were Tommy’s…he had them taken care of.”