ENID, Okla. — Gary Peters clocked out of his job at PT for the last time around 4 p.m. Thursday.
The 72-year-old Enid man “o’fishally” retired from the manufacturing company after 51 years, celebrating with family, friends and coworkers with a retirement party, and is excited to stay busy with other areas in his life.
“That’s what I want to do — I’ll stay busy,” Peters said. “I’m not going to go home and sit in a chair. I have some projects around the house. I like to fish. I have a boat. I have friends that are retired. I’ll probably go see my daughter in Arkansas, and my best friend lives in Arkansas, too.”
Reuel Christopher Parrish, the founder of PT (formerly Central Machine & Tool), hired Peters on July 23, 1970, when Peters was 21. Only about a dozen people worked there then, Peters said.
PT is a global supplier with multiple manufacturing locations in Oklahoma — headquartered in Enid — and Mississippi that create products for industries, including industrial, petroleum, chemical, pharmaceutical, agriculture, mining, municipalities and utilities.
Ali Kirtley, marketing director at PT, said the company has a lot of employees who love what they do.
“We really think of ourselves as the PT family, and we really pride ourselves in that,” she said.
When he started, Peters operated manual lathes, turret lathes and engine lathes back before the company had computerized equipment. Peters retired as a supervisor/CNC programmer.
“Initially, I wanted to learn a trade, and Mr. Parrish gave me the opportunity, and when he hired me on, our normal working hours were 55 hours a week, so there was an opportunity to make more money than some college graduates,” Peters said. “That drew me to stay, and as the company grew, I … wound up getting some pretty nice benefits that also made me want to stay.”
Peters and Carol had two daughters, Cheryl and Lynne, which also prompted Peters to stay with PT for as long as he did.
Both Cheryl and Lynne, who surprised their father at his retirement party on Thursday, said watching Peters stay with PT while they were growing up instilled loyalty, dedication and motivation into them.
“He’s been a good example for us — just showing us how to be loyal,” Cheryl said.
Lynne, who lives in Arkansas, said she’s excited for her dad to have some time to spend on himself — and visit her more often, she said with a laugh.
“I’m excited for him,” Lynne said. “It’s good for him. He’s ready to just enjoy life.”
Peters has seen a lot of changes during his time with PT. Matt Parrish, the grandson of the founder R.C., is president now. The name of the company changed in 2019, and technology affected his day-to-day work.
“One thing that made my job easier was the development of software to aid in programming the computerized machines,” he said.
Jerry Koehn, who recently retired from PT after 53 years, said it always was easy to work with Peters.
“When he started working here, we didn’t hardly have any NC equipment or computer equipment, and he’s the guy that helped us get into that, so he was a real help to us in that area and just continued to build it,” Koehn said.
Vice President of PT Terry Johnson, who’s been with PT for more than 30 years, said Peters was a “great team member” with a lot of knowledge.
“He’s got a lot of knowledge and helps with the machine shop,” Johnson said. “He knows a lot — matter of fact, he’s got a lot of knowledge he’s going to take with him.”
Peters said he’s enjoyed all of his time with PT, even the bad days, and started thinking about retirement near the beginning of this year. He decided to go for it about two and a half weeks ago.
“There’s been a lot of changes,” Peters said. “I’ve seen a lot of people come and go. I’ve made a lot of friends. It’s been good.”
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