Area man retires after 52 years with company


Published: Saturday, January 27, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 27, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

After 52 years, Ken Wengler deserves a break.

Facts

FYI: Ken Wengler

  • At 73, he officially retired from his surveying job Wednesday at CH2M Hill, the same company he's worked at for over a half-century.

With a career that spanned six decades and 10 U.S. presidents, Wengler, 73, officially retired from his surveying job Wednesday at CH2M Hill, the same company he's worked at for over a half-century. For his last day, the Gainesville office threw a going-away party for Wengler, one of the longest-tenured employees in company history.

Wengler credits his interest in the rapidly evolving world of surveying, as well as a good opportunity, as reasons why he decided to join the company in 1955. Fresh out of his service as an Army surveyor during the Korean War, he actually turned down a higher-paying job with a logging company to take the $1.75-an-hour job with CH2M Hill's predecessor, Clair Hill. Wengler became employee No. 29 at the fledgling company, which now has more than 18,000 employees worldwide.

Wengler certainly does not regret that decision he made many years ago.

"It's just a fantastic company to work for," he said. "There was always something new to look forward to — it was always a challenge. I had the opportunity to travel and see other cultures."

Aside from the many places he's seen through work — he's done surveying in 26 of the 50 states, along with the Cayman Islands, Puerto Rico, Egypt and Russia — Wengler has also seen a remarkable change in the surveying industry.

"There's been continual improvement of the measuring equipment. Everything when we started was done with computer hand-crank calculators," Wengler said, noting that the GPS systems and high-tech computers of today are a far cry from the calculators of the 1950s.

For all of the changes he's endured, Wengler isn't quite ready for the biggest career change of them all — retirement. In fact, he's already started his new, as-needed part-time job driving cars between Toyota dealerships. "I love to drive and [travel] through the countryside, so it's something along the way that interests me," Wengler said of his new venture.

Wengler is also excited to have some newfound time for family, friends, and his many hobbies, which include building wooden furniture, traveling, riding his motorcycle, and being active in his church.

"It's good to be home with my wife and near my family. I'll be busy just staying home and trying to catch up on all the projects I've missed in the past 50 years," Wengler said.

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