Longtime Collins employee retires

M. Kate West
Chester Editor

    After nearly 37 years, Collins Pine Company employee Mike Ingle made the decision to hang up his hard hat and pick up a golf club.
    “I plan to golf in my retirement,” he said. “We bought a fifth wheel and I am going to travel and hit every golf course west of the Mississippi!”
    When he’s not traveling to golf he said he plans to garden. “I have a large garden now,” he added.
    He will be sharing his retirement adventures with his wife, Cheryl.
    As a 35-year Greenville resident, Ingle made his last commuter run to the mill Dec. 18.  His official retirement date was Dec. 31.
    Based on the types of jobs he held over the years, his longevity with the company allowed him to train and work jobs that have gone down in the history of mill operations.
    Beginning in 1973, Ingle worked a clean-up position for about six months and then moved to nightshift as a handyman. “I worked that position for a year and really learned it all,” he said.
    After that he transferred to a dayshift position.
    “I went to work as a pond monkey; it’s like being an Oregon river rat,” he said.
    He said he drove a boat on the millpond and sorted logs by species to feed the mill. Ingle said he worked that position for 18 years.
    “I remember the first time I met Mary Beth Collins. There was a little creek by the pond that they stocked with lake fish. She would show up with her fishing pole. She would catch five-pounders and just be stoked; she was so cute,” he said.
    After the pond closed down, Ingle bid into the mill as a debarker operator. “I worked that job for about six months and then went to re-saw for two years,” he said.
    Next came running the stacker at the end of the system, a position he worked for his last 15 years. Fond of his job, he named his assigned piece of equipment “Silkie.”
    Throughout his years Ingle was assigned a variety of responsibilities, among them a three-year stint as the mill’s behavioral safety facilitator, which made Ingle lead on the mill safety program.
    Among other responsibilities he noted an interesting trend. “I got to be the first person on new jobs with new pieces of equipment,” he said.
    Over the years he also had the opportunity to increase his education.
    “I obtained an associate degree in forestry from Lassen College, he said.
    “The company helped by adjusting my work schedule to accommodate my taking classes. I worked days one year and nights the next.”
    He said that was part of a Veteran’s Administration program. “I think there were about 40 other employees from Collins participating at that time.

Looking back
    “Back when I hired, someone had to die for you go get a job. Back then there were 553 employees, now there are 117,” he said.
 “Collins is a great place to work. It’s been a great time and there are great people here.
    “I’m pretty proud of myself—I think I’ve gotten along with everyone. I’m also proud … even though I don’t want to toot my own horn … but I feel respected. Thank you, Collins Pine.”
     About his upcoming lifestyle change Ingle said, “Anytime you walk in and out of a gate for 37 years, you are going to miss it.”
    Prior to working for the Collins Pine Company, Ingle worked as a plumber for two years in Santa Barbara. He also attended college for two years and served for four years in the United States Air Force.
    Ingle is a 1966 graduate of Carpinteria High School.

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