Jig and Real

Tony Santos found his calling at PTR, the United Nations of ironworking.

By G.W. Miller III
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Dec. 3, 2008

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"I've been here so long they treat me like one of the family," Santos says.

As we approach the finished balers, we run into Gary Fudala, PTR's vice president who started with the company as a welder shortly after Santos began.

"In those days, this place was full of German, Polish and Italian immigrants," recalls Fudala, a Fishtown native. "Tony was the only Hispanic guy. I kind of adopted him."

Fudala tried to teach English to Santos, who was picking up phrases he heard around the factory.

"I remember hearing Tony say, 'Fanculo! Fanculo!' all over the place," Fudala says. "I told him, 'Hey, Tony! That's a bad word.'"

"Everybody was saying it," Santos retorts in his thick accent.

Inside the bustling factory, the two became fast friends. On weekends they went fishing or hunting together. They attended birthday parties for each other's children.

"It's been a good partnership in many ways," Fudala says. A former Army paratrooper, Fudala eventually became an executive with the company.

Santos went from floor sweeper to welder. He designed half the jigs used in the factory. Now he's a team leader supervising a group of 40 welders, fitters and technicians.

"It's America," Fudala says. "You start at the bottom and work your way to the top."

"I work real hard," Santos adds. "That's the kind of place it is. They take care of their workers."

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