45 Years. One Man. One Career. One Coffee Mug.

45 years in one place? It’s practically unheard of these days.

According to some statistics, the era of employment for life is long over. Today, the average person changes jobs 10 to 15 times (with an average of 12 job changes) during his or her career.

I did find the exception to this data. As a matter of fact, we all have the pleasure of either working directly with him or reap the benefits of his stellar work product. Curt ‘Kolb’ Kolbo, EAPC CAD Specialist for our Mechanical department (Grand Forks) has rebuked the notion of job hopping and has come to work for 45 years, early in the morning mind you, like 4:30 am early, and begins his tasks with his coffee mug close by. Curt sticks to what he likes, and this coffee mug has been with him since 1974.

Kolb and his trusty mug back when smoking in the office was kosher (1991)
Kolb’s trusty coffee mug today

Imagine. Four and a half decades of continuous dedication to one employer. Jim Tyler, EAPC principal and head of our Mechanical team, said

“Curt (Kolb), is a rarity in today’s workplace. As EAPC concludes its 50th year in business, what a treat it is to have a person on staff with the corporate knowledge and perspective of 45 of those 50 years! Kolb has always been one of the most dedicated employees we have, putting in the most overtime of any employee in EAPC’s history, by far. I remember when I first joined EAPC 20 years ago in 1997, Kolb was celebrating 25 years with EAPC.”

Jim Tyler in his earlier days

Jim flashbacked to the earlier years with Kolb.

“At one point during my first days with EAPC, there was a string of months in a row when we were pushing several projects out, and I was coming in early and working late a great deal…not only trying to get a job out the door but also trying to make a good impression! It seemed every morning I came to work early, Kolb was there and when I came back in late at night, Kolb was at the computer or at the blue print machine with a cup of coffee and a cigarette, the consummate multi-tasker.”

Kolb did spend one year prior to coming to EAPC working at an anti-ballistic missile site near Nekoma, ND. When hired at EAPC, Curt learned plumbing design under then owner Curt Moen.

Curt Moen, Former EAPC Principal
Kolb remembered the set up back then.

“There were about 17 people in the firm, but some of those were air base personnel that wanted a second part-time job. They helped us out when we got busy.”

With time, technology changes quite rapidly.

Kolb recalled the drafting tools he used during the early years at EAPC.

“The office had homemade elevated drafting tables with a parallel bar mounted on it and a whole assortment of hand drafting tools.”

Kolb said he doesn’t miss hand drawing plans, but also recalls them ‘not being so bad’. He continued,

“It was a struggle in a way because back in the old days, they gave me a machine and a hand book to learn from.”

Kolb learned and got it done.

Kolb said in today’s techy environment, there are more changes to projects than in the past, but the changes are much easier to make now.

“Back in the day, we were using the electric eraser and erasing shield, making and putting on sticky backs, and cutting and pasting in stuff on the drawings.”

I asked Kolb if he ever misses running the blueprint machine and dealing with the awful ammonia smell that I understood to be prevalent back then.

“No, there again it wasn’t that bad…except after running prints for a long, long time. The coffee tasted like ammonia and all you could smell was ammonia for a long time after the big print runs were done. I really hated the paper cuts.”

Kolb
After 45 years working on one project after the other, I was curious if Kolb had a memorable project.

Indeed.

“The project was called Rydell GMC Truck City located on Gateway Drive or Hwy 2 in Grand Forks. The Owner was in a big, big, BIG hurry to get into the ground ASAP so Jim Shulind and myself started the project. Both of us worked 52 hours straight not ever leaving the building, with only coffee breaks until the project was done (and that was all hand drafting the project).”

Kolb recalls that the Client was impressed with EAPC for the fast work.

“Curt Moen and Bob Peterson took Jim and myself out to eat and gave us each a job well done fifty-dollar bill!”

We all know that today’s culture is quite different from even 10 years ago. So, experiencing culture change over 45 years deserves some reflection.

“It’s a whole lot different now than back in the good ‘ole days. But look at the way things are done, and how fast things are moving and changing today versus in the 70’s on up.”

Working for a business for 45 years is rare these days, and Curt summed up his experience so far at EAPC this way:

“Well, let’s see…after being in four different EAPC buildings and locations over the years, what’s there to say? It’s been a great adventure so far!”

As Jim Tyler says,

“We love Kolb here at EAPC, his dedication and service is remarkable and cherished!”

So, the big question we all want to know is does Curt have any plans for future retirement?

“Not so fast,” says Curt. “Let’s go for 50…and when I do retire, I plan to go hunting and use that coffee mug as a clay pigeon.”

Grand Forks Mechanical Staff Renee Holthaus, Derrick Lunski, Curt Kolbo, and Dean Narlock