Iron Man of Foamex

453067279They don’t make employees like this anymore. Rain, shine or snow storm, Joe Iacono has always managed to make it to work.

He brings new meaning to the word dependable with his impeccable attendance record and work ethic. In his entire career, he has only missed a few days of work.

Now he’s retiring. What will they do without him? I interviewed his friends, family and coworkers at his retirement party at Foamex International Inc. in Eddystone, Pa., to see what they had to say.

101374206Move over Cal Ripken Jr. Make room for the Iron Main of Foamex, if you will.

Whether he’s trudging through snow drifts on the way to work or being inducted into the Delaware County Hall of Fame for athletic achievement, friends, family and coworkers all seem to agree, Joe Iacono is a good sport.

And like the Baltimore Orioles standout who owns the Major League record for most consecutive games played, Iacono has set his own lofty mark for days on the job.

[pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”30%”]”You’re losing something when he retires,” Welsh said.. [/pullquote]

Co-workers at Foamex International Inc. at 1500 E. 2nd Street in Eddystone are celebrating his retirement, 40 years of nearly uninterrupted service and remembering a man who braved feet of snow on foot in a “state of emergency” in 1996 to make it in to work.160602519

His wife Sheila said he walked an estimated 5 miles in the snow from their home in Woodlyn to the plant. Iacono, who has arthritis, was 58 at the time. He said the most challenging part of his snowy trek was getting out the front door. With the exception of a few snowed in employees left over from the third shift, he was the sole employee who make it to work that day.

“Joe started the foam machine up like a one man band,” coworker Hal Williams said. By the time he arrived at work, he joked, Iacono was a “200-pound block of ice” and had to be thawed out.100323257

“I don’t think they make people like him anymore,” his wife Sheila said. She said she remembers telling him that no one else was going to work that day.

“Oh, yeah, well I try to be dependable,” Iacono remarked casually. He said he comes to “work everyday on time” and tries to do his job to the best of his ability.

Foamex Executive Vice President Steve Drap you could always count on his old Pontiac to be in the parking lot. With the exception of a knee replacement operation in 1997, a few family funerals and a military draft, Iacono left an unblemished attendance record. He said he has never really been sick.

146905480“God gave me my health, and that’s the main thing,” he said “If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.”

Bob Welsh, co-worker, said his 40 years with the company nearly encompasses the history of polyurethane foam. He said Iacono was one of

the original employees at Broomall Street in Chester when Foamex was the foam division of Scott Paper Co. At the time of his retirement, he was one of the most senior employees.

“You’re losing something when he retires,” Welsh said. Co-worker Pat Abbott, who worked with Iacono for
35 years agreed. “Most companies have one or two. Joe was461185481 the best: good to work for, good to work with,” he said.

Drap said he was “old school” but remarked on his ability to adapt to technical changes in the industry with ease. “Here’s a guy who worked with a slide rule,” he said, but was “as good as anyone at running that computer.”

He described him as being available on nights and weekends, helping out when the plant was in a crunch. Longtime friend and co-worker Chuck Taylor indicated the “team-player” attitude was evident in his approach to sports as well.

He said he “had a lot of talent” but “wasn’t trying to score a lot of points.” He wanted to win, he said. “We kind of stunned everyone when we won the (Scott Paper Co. basketball) tournament tow years in a row,” he said. Read more..

Reprinted with permission from the Delaware County Daily Times.