It is a milestone that very few people reach, but for Rudy Salazar—who has spent the last 50 years at Georgia-Pacific’s Diboll Lumber mill—it is just another day on the job.
Diboll Lumber is not only celebrating Salazar’s five decades of service, but also Salazar becoming the mill’s longest tenured employee.
Salazar began his career in 1970 when he was 20 years old. He was trained as a crane operator—a position that he still holds today. However, as you can imagine, Salazar has experienced a lot of change in his role throughout the years. “Technology has definitely evolved. I started out operating a military shipyard crane that was built in the 1960s and relocated to Diboll Lumber. A few years ago, that crane was replaced with a multi-million-dollar crane with the latest technology,” said Salazar.
Perched 87 feet high above logs trucks and the wood yard, this is where Salazar feels right at home. “It is peaceful and quiet up here,” said Salazar. While he enjoys the isolation, Salazar is quick to point out that this is where log production begins at the mill. “This is where it all starts—and the speed and efficiency of how I operate the crane ultimately impacts the mill’s overall production.”
It is estimated that Salazar unloads as many as 130 log trucks each shift, which is roughly 20,000 trucks annually. “Rudy is not only good at his job, but he has also trained many new crane operators at the mill,” said Randy Havard, Georgia-Pacific Diboll Lumber Green End Supervisor. “Rudy is an asset to this mill, and it is an honor to work with him.”
Salazar officially celebrated 50 years of service this week. “This mill is like family to me,” said Salazar. “I have made life-long friends out here and I enjoy what I do—and I hope to continue working several more years.”