He applied for a job in 1954 after his father-in-law, Anton Kopp, a Suczac and yard gang worker at the Pfizer Brooklyn plant, came home and announced Pfizer was hiring. “At the time, I was working for Micamold Radio Corporation in their shipping department. I knew about Pfizer from my wife Mary’s father. But to be honest, the biggest reason I had for applying for a job was that Pfizer was paying $2 more per hour.”
Within two weeks, Mike was hired as a Chemical Operator in Pfizer’s Organic Chemicals Department. “I helped in the manufacturing of the chemicals in the current production cycle, including Suczac, Terramycin and Penicillin, at the Marcy Avenue facility of the Brooklyn plant. The biggest product that I worked on was Citric acid, which was then used in everything from soda, candy and ice cream, to an ingredient in many common household cleaning products.”
During production downtime, Mike worked where needed in physical plant maintenance, drawing upon his early education in carpentry and plumbing. It was through these skills that he was afforded the opportunity to work on the building of a new Citric Acid Department in the early 1960s. “Pfizer built the new Citric Department primarily using Pfizer employees. We were responsible for all the pipe metal and electrical work. I look back at that time as being one of my proudest memories. It was quite an accomplishment.”
From this experience, Mike was offered a position in Engineering and Plant Maintenance. “I jumped at that opportunity because it was strictly day work. Chemical Production work was around the clock and your shift was always changing. My wife and I raised three daughters together and with changing schedules I didn't have much time to spend with my family.”
Working in Engineering provided a regular schedule and also time to get involved in activities such as the company sports teams like softball. “At that time Pfizer had an interest in the Brooklyn Dodgers, so once in awhile we were actually allowed to play at Ebbets Field.” It also allowed Mike to participate in additional training, and he was one of the first graduates of the Brooklyn Engineering training Course. “There were only three of us who graduated from the course in the year that I took it.”
At the time of his retirement, nearly sixteen years ago in June 1993, Mike was the First Line Supervisor – Engineering and Physical Plant Maintenance, with multiple areas of responsibilities including the Power House, Pipe Metal Shop and the Fire Prevention Sprinkler System. Mike retired from Pfizer with 39 years of service and a lot of pride and memories.
Since then, it’s the little things that Mike enjoys the most. “I just enjoy being alive and in good health.” That’s no mean feat considering Mike stopped a 50-year smoking habit in 1996.
He and his wife moved from Ridgewood Queens, N.Y., to Dayton, N. J., in 2005 to be closer to their youngest daughter and her family.
“Nowadays, we spend most of the time enjoying our new home and the community activities like shooting pool, swimming and playing bocce ball. If we’re not doing that, we’re visiting with our other two daughters and their families in Virginia and Ohio. Our first granddaughter, is getting married in Ohio this coming July, and Mary and I are looking forward to seeing the family gather for this special occasion.”
It’s the little things that have big importance.