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After 48 years of technological advances, service manager retires

Staff writer

Beginning at age 17, while he was still in high school, Nick Zogelman has worked at Williams’ Truck Service in Florence. After 48 years, his last day will be Friday.

The 66-year-old mechanic sports thinning white hair and a white beard. He usually trims his beard, but he is growing it out in celebration of his retirement.

“What’s killing me is the technology,” he said. “I can’t keep up with it.”

He has taken numerous classes in person and online to try to stay abreast of changes.

He went to informational meetings and visited trade fairs once a year.

“I can learn something, but if I don’t put it to use in the shop, it doesn’t stick with me,” he said.

Zogelman grew up between Burns, Florence, and Peabody and graduated from Peabody High School in 1974.

He sometimes visited Williams Service with his father.

“I would come and think it was too cool,” he remembers.

With his father’s help, he began working part-time during his senior year in high school. He went full-time right after graduating.

“I had on-the-job training,” he said.

The first two or three years, he took things apart. His first job was pulling a differential out of a dump truck. It was a learning experience.

“I didn’t put anything together for a while,” he said.

At that time, trucks had no power steering, air conditioning, or power windows. A truck with 350,000 miles on it was doing well. When a truck in the shop was started cold, the whole shop would fill with smoke.

Trucks have changed a lot since then, Zogelman said. They can go for a million miles on one engine. Machined parts fit better, engines run longer on improved oil, and cabs have the same amenities as cars.

Emissions are a big issue. Catalytic converters have been replaced by high-tech controls that include lots of wiring and connections. Newer trucks emit cleaner air and are less noisy, based on standards set by government.

One of Zogelman’s biggest challenges was estimating the cost of a job. He said it was easy to forget things, sometimes little things that can add to the cost.

Now, the challenge is in getting the parts needed to complete a job.

“It’s hard on the man who has just one truck,” he said.

He dealt with customers every day. His boss, Rodney Williams, said he might not realize how much Zogelman did for him until he isn’t there anymore.

After he retires, Zogelman plans to do odd jobs, but nothing full-time. He also has a woodworking hobby.

“I will miss the interaction with people, harassing them and being harassed,” he said.

His wife, Sharon, recently retired from St. Luke Hospital. Daughter Heidi Ensley is an optometrist in Derby with two children. Daughter Katie Zogelman is an audiologist in Wichita who visits St. Luke in Marion.

“I’ve got my old man stuff covered,” he joked, “my eyes and ears.”

Last modified Feb. 23, 2022

 

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