LORDSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Greg George, Bruce Kimes and Vince Martini spent nearly 40 years working together at the General Motors plant in Lordstown. Their bond on the assembly line translated into a lifelong friendship that will never fade, even in retirement.
“I’ve seen them eight hours a day, five days a week. I see them more than I see my wife,” Greg said.
All of that time together created fond memories for the three friends.
“The people you’re surrounded with help you to get through it day by day,” Vince said. “The three of us are going to stay in touch.”
Greg and Bruce are retired now, but Vince was the first in and he’ll be the last out. He started working at Lordstown in 1977 and just went back in April after five months in the hospital.
“I had Bruce sending me cards, I had Big Daddy [Greg] stopping up at the hospital,” Vince said. “Between them and my wife spending the night at the hospital two nights in a row, that’s what got me through it.”
What started as pneumonia ended with surgery to implant a pacemaker. His wife tried to convince him it was time to stay home.
“She said, ‘Why don’t you retire?’…I said, ‘No, I want to go back and give it a shot.'”
Greg, who had been working at GM since 1978, knew he’d had enough. He won’t miss the job, but he will miss the relationships he built in Chassis One and his fellow team leaders.
“That’s how we bonded together. It wasn’t all fun and games. We worked together as a team,” Greg said.
They continue to support the company that gave them careers by driving GM vehicles. Greg even has a 1965 Chevy Impala that Vince helped him check out.
“I’ve always had my eye on a ’65 and you’d always find them that were either a bucket of rust or a bucket of money,” Greg said.
Flipping through pictures, Greg is barely recognizable after losing 121 pounds in the last 18 months.
“We’ve got a lot of pictures of Big Daddy in here when he was a Big Daddy,” Vince said.
Bruce received a book of photos at a surprise joint retirement party in April that was planned by their friends.
His tenure at Lordstown started the same way; with a book on his first day of work, May 24, 1979. It reads, “You are now part of the number one team you’ll find working at General Motors Lordstown, a good place to work.”
It turned out to be so much more than that. A motto to live by at work while raising a family at home.
“The working together thing, that’s what gets you through out there. It’s a team, so everybody’s got their position on the team to play. We got good players, right here,” Bruce said.
All three plan to get together once a month for dinner.