Keppler one of fortunate few PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Sentinel-Tribune Staff   
Friday, 04 December 2009 10:59
Keppler_Modine_story
Don and Kate Keppler with their grandson, Robert Sentle. (Aaron Carpenter/Sentinel-Tribune)
He and his wife, Kate, were in the middle of a major remodeling project on their farm house, when Keppler got the news that his paychecks at the truck radiator plant would soon come to an end.
So the 44-year-old didn't wait until his job was cut to start looking for other employment. He scoured the ads in the newspaper for about three months and told everyone he came in contact with that he was ready, willing and more than able to work.
Keppler applied for about six jobs with no success.
"I could have stayed home and collected unemployment," he said.
"But that's just not our style," his wife quickly added.
In February, Keppler was one of the lucky ones, finding a job at the Jones-Hamilton plant in Lake Township.
The job comes with a "significant pay cut," but better benefits. And Keppler, who also farms on the side, knows he has fared better than many of his former lineworkers.
And this year, as he sat down at his kitchen table one recent evening after finishing work in the field, Keppler was just thankful he was able to rebound quickly.
"I feel like I'm one of the fortunate ones," Keppler said. "The money will come. And money isn't everything."
Made of conservative stock, the Kepplers cut their camping trips in half this past summer, eat out at restaurants less often, and are still sitting on their remodeling project.
"Until the income is back, we're on hold," Kate said.
But Kate, a full-time manager of a dental office, has confidence in her husband, who has proven his worth as a material handler at his new job.
"He's a worker. He's a worker," she said. "Some things have changed, but we're OK."
Though Keppler was a little apprehensive about starting with a new "work family," he quickly adjusted and seems to be thriving in the new work environment where he runs a bagger machine, drives forklift and loads trucks.
"That was probably the hardest part for him," his wife said about him being the "new kid on the block" at age 44. But the work is a steady 40 hours a week, with no threat of impending layoffs at Jones Hamilton, which continues to break production records.
"It's an incredibly positive atmosphere," his wife said, comparing it to Modine, where there were frequent rumors of layoffs over the years.
And with the potential of pay increases ahead, Keppler faces the new year with optimism.
"Once the money comes around, I think I've bettered myself," he said.
 

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