Butch Welsch

I couldn’t help but respond to John R. Hall’s article (The NEWS,April 7, 2008) concerning the oldest service technician. Unfortunately, the article came a couple of years too late for the man that I think deserves a lot of credit for being a top “senior” technician.

His name was Ed Giessmann and he started working for our company back in 1954. I believe a few tales of Ed’s heritage here in St. Louis are appropriate even though he is no longer around to continue them.

Ed worked for us and continued to make regular service calls through his 72nd birthday, which amounted to over 50 years for us. In fact, before his 65th birthday, he came to me and pleaded with me to not make him retire. Naturally, I had no intention of asking him to retire, and he worked until past his 72nd birthday, which was in March of 2005.

Ed regularly serviced the higher-end homes with society-level owners. As a result, anytime Ed came to the shop we knew we could count on many, many stories as to what was happening with all of the St. Louis society types. We always kidded that he could and should write a gossip column for theSt. Louis Post Dispatch.

We have all heard that the most important factors in hiring a service technician are the people skills, which are much more important than technical skills. That certainly personified Ed.

His trademarks included almost a photographic memory when it came to knowing about his customers and their parents and/or offspring. He could remember where a daughter was going to college or where the parents lived. Many of his customers would wait weeks, even months, to make sure he was the one to make their service call.

Perhaps the best story regarding Ed revolves around the fact that every day he carried dog biscuits in his pocket in order to take care of those customers who had dogs. Naturally, he was very popular with his customers’ four-legged pets.

One day he was servicing a home in an upscale St. Louis community when he was surprised to see a dog come up to his truck. He was surprised because he recognized the dog as one belonging to another customer of his who lived about two miles away. Apparently, the dog recognized the truck and knew that its driver had dog biscuits in his pocket.

After confirming from the dog’s tag that the dog did belong to his other customer, Ed loaded the dog in his truck and took off for the dog’s home.

Imagine the surprise on the homeowners’ faces when Ed pulled up in our Welsch truck with their dog in the passenger seat. They had been packing their car for a trip to Florida, when inadvertently the house door had been left open and the dog wandered away. The couple had spent over two hours looking for their dog, unable to leave on their trip until the dog was found. Needless to say, they were elated when Ed brought home their dog and they were able to take off on their trip.

Ed retired from our company on Sept. 1, 2005 and passed away in May 2006. In my opinion, there will never be a technician like him.

Sidebar: Other ‘Notables'

Marvin Green: 86, Las Vegas

Walter Harber: 85, Memphis

Paul Hastings: 81, Lambert, Miss.

John Kerwin: 81, Chesterland, Ohio

Andy Anderson: 77, Stafford, Texas

Myron Sohn: 77, Sheboygan, Wis.

Frank Babuska: 75, Pelham, N.Y.

Charles W. Ransom: 74, Houston

Bruce Frasier: 74, Rhinelander, Wis.

Thomas Click: 72, Augusta, Ga.

Charles Luinetti: 71, Congers, N.Y.

George Sporie: 71, Strafford, N.H.

Lorin J. Lightcap: 70, Broomall, Md.

Billy C. Alford: 70, Florien, La.

Dalbir Plaha: 69, Pleasanton, Calif.

Roger Hopkins: 69, Macon, Ga.

Steven Anderson: 69, Cambridge, Md.

Gary Lindstrom: 69, San Leandro, Calif.

Alex Walter: 68, Denver

Phil Trussler: 68, Miami, Okla.

Jerry Whisler: 68, Des Moines, Iowa

Robert R. Calabrese: 67, Waterbury, Conn.

Roger Canaday: 66, Enid, Okla.

Al Arnold: 65, Murphy, Texas

Galen McDonald: 65, Faribault, Minn.

Frank Erickson: 65, Des Moines, Iowa

Bob Barnes: 64, Monroe, Conn.

Robert Cebula: 64, Newton, Mass.

Jack Haney: 63, San Jose, Calif.

William Charles Sund: 61, Gilbert, Ariz.

George Tuck: 60, San Francisco

Walt Bays: 59, Kalamazoo, Mich.

William Johnson: 55, Torrance, Calif.

Publication date:06/09/2008