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Knode celebrates 50 years with local lumber company

September 19, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT - For Harry Knode, the banquet held Thursday to mark his 50 years at the G.A. Miller Lumber Co. was pleasant enough, but the veteran employee and former owner seemed a little uncomfortable with all the fuss.

"I'm going to keep going, you know," Knode told the gathering of about two dozen family members, friends and co-workers. "This is just a one-day interruption of my daily work schedule."

After a catered meal in the lumber warehouse and a presentation by Williamsport Mayor John Slayman, many of those attending went back to work.

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That included Knode, who still puts in a five-day work week.

"I don't work the half day we're open on Saturdays anymore," he said.

Knode, 65, said he began working at the lumber company when he was 15 and still in high school. "I came down as a stock clerk but I also did whatever needed to be done, including sweeping the sidewalks," Knode said.

At that time, in 1953, the company was owned by Raymond and G.A. Miller. Knode learned all the skills he needed to know on the job. Over the years, he picked up purchasing techniques, how to draw blueprints, drafting, hiring and firing and anything else that came his way.

"I have no regrets. It's been a fulfilling life," Knode said. "I get a good feeling when I get to help friends complete projects."

Knode and his wife, Barbara, live in Williamsport.

Business at the lumber company has been brisk this week as customers stocked up on emergency supplies in anticipation of Hurricane Isabel's pass through the area.

"I take no pleasure in that kind of business because it means people are going to have damage to their property," Knode said.

In 1971, Knode and four other men bought the business. Two of those men - John Tritle and Dale Martin - later died and the business was then owned by Knode, Richard McCleary and Tom Shank.

McCleary became sole owner about five years ago.

"I have been manager since 1969 and I've stayed in that position," Knode said.

Norman Wolfe, a lumber company employee for seven years, said Knode is a good man to work for.

"You couldn't want a nicer fellow or a finer gentleman," Wolfe said. "He knows every inch of this place."

Slayman presented Knode with a resolution from the Town of Williamsport.

"This is our way to show appreciation for the things you've done for this town," Slayman said. "You're a good man."

Knode said he tells new employees that knowledge is free.

"All they have to do is bring the container," he said.

He said he is living proof since he was a self-described green kid when he went to work at lumber company.

G.A. Miller Lumber Co., at 142 W. Potomac St., was founded in 1878.

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