The Old-Timers Veteran Factory Workers Recall Libertyville's Industrial Past
Zawislak, Mick, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Mick Zawislak Daily Herald Staff Writer
Old-timers drop by now and then, looking for memories of when the east-side factory was a frenzied community in itself.
There is still some activity, but nothing close to the constant thunder of machinery as 3,000 workers made heavy-duty equipment at Libertyville's largest place of employment.
That peak has long passed. Owners have changed and different companies have come and gone. Decades later, only Paul Geffert and John Zoos remain. A third compadre, Henry Longmier, has worked with the pair since the early 1970s, but retired this month.
At a time when young adults can expect to have three or four careers over their lifetimes, these two have logged a combined 73 years traversing the nooks and crannies of a sprawling industrial site along Route 176 on Libertyville's east side.
During that time, they have seen the Des Plaines River moved to make way for more buildings and heard the hum of 24-hour manufacturing. They've seen new products introduced and dozens of companies, including a candy factory, come and go.
They have worked for several owners and witnessed the impact of business decisions on individual lives.
In short, they have seen a slice of Libertyville change dramatically. They've weathered the ebbs and swells of business cycles like corks on the water, emerging with jobs for life.
"Your job would create a niche," says Geffert, who arrived at the Frank G. Hough Co., as a draftsman in the engineering department in 1963. "As knowledge developed, it was something that would be of vital importance to the next company that was buying it or whatever."
Soos, who started with Hough in 1972 as an electrician in the maintenance department, had a feeling it would be a longtime gig.
"I figured this would be here forever," he says.
Both were involved when new buildings and machines were planned and put on line and came to know the place inside and out. As on- site experts, their knowledge has been indispensable to newcomers.
Since 1996, their paychecks have been signed by TEC Properties, a Lansing, Illinois, company owned by Frank Mungo that leases warehouse, industrial and office space. Known since then as the Mungo Libertyville Center, the area covers a surprising amount of ground in the landlocked village.
"In 1963 when I came, it was a little over 300,000 square feet," said Geffert. "Today, we almost have 900,000 square feet."
Three main groups of buildings are spread over 67 acres from the Des Plaines River east and south. …