From the B-17 to lasers, Al's been there
BY PHYLLIS MILLER
In June 2002, Al Seifert will have the longest service record of any current employee who started at Boeing - 60 years. He is one of only four people in the company today with 60 or more years of service.
Seifert joined The Boeing Company in January 1942 as a mechanic, installing components on the B-17. He was paid 62-1/2 cents per hour.
Today, Seifert works in the Emergent Tooling Center, part of Developmental & Manufacturing Products in Fabrication Division in Auburn, Wash., where he has worked for the past 30 years. He joined the Tooling manufacturing business unit, then at Plant 2 in Seattle, upon returning from military service in 1946.
Seifert is a tall, slender, modest and private man. He doesn't talk much about himself, his work, or his commitment to The Boeing Company. For Seifert, the transformation of Commercial Airplanes over the years has been a personal and ‘hands-on' experience. As times have changed, Seifert has adapted in order to build many of the tools that exemplify the company's technological evolution.
"Eventually, they'll go to a flying wing," Seifert predicted. "But the airports aren't ready for it yet."
Monte Melvin, who for many years was Seifert's first-line supervisor in tooling, has nothing but praise for the longtime Boeing employee. "Al is the kind of guy who, as a supervisor, I'd trade three employees for one. His work ethic and his knowledge and his skill level are almost impossible to find in one employee," he said. Melvin now is a first-line supervisor in Mechanical and Structural Test.
Seifert built tooling for the gas turbine engine in 1953, followed by various tools for the B-52, B-47 and 707. He also led the construction of the Accurate Fuselage Panel Assembly Cell, or AFPAC, which is a tool for the automated assembly of 757 fuselage panels. In 2001 he built the Laser Trim Cell, which utilizes a laser to trim Inconel (a nickel/steel alloy), and stainless steel tubing.
Seifert has become the "primary go-to guy" for fabrication of experimental hardware, according to David Strand, of Engineering Research & Development Support and New Product Development in Manufacturing Research and Development.
"Al is one of the guys to whom you can take a project and be assured you will get what you designed," Strand said. "He is wonderful in providing the tooling expertise, but also in helping younger designers understand what works in the production environment and what doesn't."
Daniel Nydegger, who has worked with Seifert for more than 20 years, agrees. " I believe that when he comes to work, the company gets a bargain," Nydegger said. "A lot of the engineers come to him for advice because of his longevity and the skill level that he has. If Al suggests something, they listen."
Seifert's time away from Boeing revolves around his home and traveling, but even home has a Boeing connection. Seifert and his wife Yolanda first met as co-workers at Boeing and were married in 1949. They have two daughters - Lorelei, who is a tech designer for the 747 program, and Desiree. Seifert has three grandchildren.
"I used to ask him when he was going to retire, but he never answered," Strand said. "Now I know the answer, never."
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