The Jacks of all Trades

Three Senior Employees Reflect on 40 Years at MPW

When MPW was a new business, everyone had to be willing to do everything. “You had to wear all the hats back then,” said MPW Project Manager Mike McGonagle, a 43-year employee. “It’s a lot more structured environment today.”

From left to right: Gary ”Moe” Berger, Gibby Smith & Mike McGonagle

“Yeah, we got into everything,” said Fabricator and 36-year MPW employee Gibby Smith. Whether it was a wash truck or a water blaster, if it needed upgraded or repaired, MPW’s former staff of three or four people in fabrication did it. “We were here 24/7 basically to keep everything going,” he said.

“We still do a lot of things we did back then, but now our equipment’s better and we’ve earned the respect of the industry,” said Steubenville Operations Manager Gary “Moe” Berger, a 28-year employee.

All three agree things were much different when they were hired at MPW, decades ago. McGonagle looks back fondly on the old days. For example, he remembers when MPW landed an Industrial Water contract with AEP many years ago. McGonagle and crew worked overtime to create the equipment necessary to complete the job.

“It was fun and challenging to do that,” McGonagle said. “It’s been successful.” He said MPW was never a company to shy away from taking risks or to create the equipment it needed. “It was all team-building back then. That’s what made the difference,” McGonagle said.

“It’s a lot more streamlined now,” Smith said. He said MPW continues to increase its staff and its ability to create custom parts and machinery. “Today, we have a great crew who can do about everything during the day,” Smith said.

For Berger, many of the changes during the last 30 years have taken place at the job sites. “MPW was always very professional,” he said. Still, some of the workers at the plants would look down at the cleaners, not for where they worked or how they looked, but for what they did. “We felt like we had to get our stuff done and leave.” Fortunately, that changed.

Berger said MPW crews had cleaned a West Virginian plant when one of the plant technicians went to work in a traditionally sooty area wearing a white suit. He came out with his suit still clean. “This is why we pay them,” the man said to his colleagues. Berger said things changed after that.

“I think it’s a respect thing,” Berger said. “We’re very important to people now. I think the main thing that’s changed over the years is now people know what we do.”

Some things have remained the same, such as Smith being a Jack of All Trades, and mastering everything. He still works on trucks, electrical equipment, HDPE tanks, chemical boxes and anything else needing fabrication or repair. MPW has awarded Smith with two Rolex watches, one for being 2018’s Hourly Employee of the Year and another for his 25-year anniversary with the company. He gave both watches to his sons.

Although McGonagle misses a lot about the past—starting back to when he would wash trucks on his time off from working at a hardware store—he’s pleased with MPW’s progress. “I think it’s better,” he said. “We do a lot broader spectrum of work with all the different groups of people we have now,” McGonagle said. “We have all these customers to satisfy.”

Berger agreed. He said MPW has improved upon everything that made the company successful in the first place. “We make things safe, like we always did, and we can engineer anything that our customers need,” he said. “MPW sets a high standard.”

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