Every once in a while, you get to meet a truly genuine person. Fibergrate employees have been blessed with the opportunity to work alongside one. Don Albrecht is retiring today – after an astounding forty-five dedicated years with Fibergrate Composite Structures, Inc.
Don and his wife, Diane, were married on January 2, 1971. After spending their honeymoon exploring East Texas, Don returned back to school at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas.
While in the student center, a university employee approached him to let him know that a gentleman by the name of Bill Walker needed to speak to him regarding a job opportunity. When Don found Walker, he was interviewed for a position at Fibergrate. Walker had Don fill out an application and hired Don on the spot. When Don asked when he should start working, Walker told him as soon as he had a chance to go home and change.
Don started working for Fibergrate less than five years after Bill Coonrod, Fibergrate’s founder, made the first fiberglass reinforced plastic molded grating panel(1966). It was a very close-knit company that felt like a family - an aspect that Don treasured.
Don has many fond memories of his forty-five years at Fibergrate, and some of his favorite prove what a hardworking, dedicated employee he has been. He explained, "In the early days of Fibergrate, there were times when everyone from the factory floor workers to the president would come into the shop on the weekends and do whatever physical labor was necessary to make the deadline for a big project. It was stressful at times, but it was fun.”
Don loved competing with Fibergrate's biggest rival, Chemgrate, before Fibergrate acquired Chemgrate. He described how Coonrod was very staunch on holding the price of Fibergrate, as was Chemgrate’s president about holding the price of Chemgrate. By not being able to discount the product, the salesmen had to find other ways to compete.
Don learned a lot from Fibergrate’s outside sales force – particularly Bill Aiken, Peter Kahn, Lloyd Parks, George Haley, and Steve Manchester. He has carried these lessons with him throughout his career and has shared them with many Fibergrate employees.
When envisioning Fibergrate’s future, simply put, Don wants success. Overall success for the company and success for his many friends still working here. Don hopes Fibergrate continues to grow in various ways including the development of new products and the expansion into new industries and international markets.
As Don enters into retirement, he plans to spend time fishing, hunting, making memories with his four grandkids, and traveling throughout the United States. Althought Don has been all over the U.S. selling Fibergrate products, his focus on these trips was purely business. Now he looks forward to being able to enjoy what each state has to offer.
When asked what advice he has for the rest of us at Fibergrate, Don said, “Do what is right, even when it is not the easiest route. You will sleep a lot better at night when you do what is right.”
We will all greatly miss Don, his passion for fiberglass reinforced plastics, his wealth of industry knowledge, and all of his stories.