Norman Froehlich landed his first job at the old Wyndall’s grocery on U.S. 60 when he was 13.
Most people who were born that year have already retired.
That was 69 years ago.
And Froehlich is still working full-time at 82.
“I’ll work till the day I die — if can get up that day,” he said last week. “Going to work makes my day. I can’t just sit around in front of a TV.”
Froehlich spent close to 40 years working in the lab at Green River Steel.
“At one time, there were 600 to 700 people at Green River Steel,” he said. “It was a good place to work.”
The mill opened in 1953 and closed permanently in 2001.
In 1995, when Steve Hyland, his son-in-law, started Hyland Filter Service at 1010 E. Sixth St., Froehlich started working there on the side.
“He was still working full-time for the steel mill at the time.” Hyland said. “When the steel mill finally closed for good, he came on full time. He has been an integral part of our growth as a business and continues today.”
He said, “I actually believe he wanted to work for me part-time in 1995 in order to get a first-hand look at the ‘risky’ venture I was getting into. And to see exactly how I would be able to support his daughter and four little grandbabies.”
Hyland said, “Twenty-five years later, he is still going strong. We are really proud of him. He’s humble and would never want to bring attention to himself. Yet, I believe he is a great example of the work ethic his generation grew up with and passed on to his three children and 14 grandchildren.”
Today, he said, Hyland Filter ships filters to hundreds of businesses in more than 20 states for their commercial and industrial heating and air-conditioning units.
The company now has 50 employees.
“I try to keep family and business separate,” Hyland said. “But if I had 50 Normans, I wouldn’t have any problems.”
Asked about working for his son-in-law, Froehlich joked, “If he does something, I’ll tell my daughter on him.”
He was busy cutting filters for Toyota, using a hot wire that burns neatly and quickly through the material.
“I can make 300 to 400 of these a day,” Froehlich said.
Asked where he got his work ethic, he said, “Dad was a hard worker. I don’t know if that’s where I got it or not.”
And then, he got back to work.
Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301 firstname.lastname@example.org