Jerry Wallace, who has been a part of the Brighton family since 1979, is heading toward retirement this spring. As a press operator and lead man, Jerry creates customer orders for heads as well as oversees and teaches other press operators on the shop floor.
Jerry’s supervisor, Bruce Knolle, who has been with Brighton for over 30 years, said, “Jerry has been a really good pressing force and one of our top-notch press operators. He has helped so many others learn the trade of pressing, and has taught me a lot of things in certain areas, too.”
When asked to share a favorite project, Jerry replied, “Since the first day I walked in the door, every day has been different. Every day is a new challenge to be overcome. Bruce requests lots of unusual heads, and we figure it out.”
Bruce explained that heads pressed at Brighton can range from six inches to 300 inches in diameter. Jerry shared that in the “old days,” the shop used to make a “hemisphere” head, which required five men to create. “We had to press from flat all the way down, running it on several different machines in order to get it deeper and deeper. We’d have one guy on each side of the press to operate it, and four guys around the push and pull it into shape.” Today, these heads are pressed in sections.
Jerry and his fellow operators give a lot of attention to detail in each of the custom orders that they create. “You have to start out at a lower pressure, dish it – you don’t want to wrinkle it – and keep pressing until it gets to the radius on the order. Then we smooth it and send it on to the next person.”
As Jerry nears retirement, he is looking forward to doing more of what he loves: fishing, hunting and “anything outdoors.” He once caught a 45 lb salmon up in Michigan! In April he plans to go hunting in Tennessee with his 18-year-old grandson. One of Jerry’s retirement goals is to see his grandson grow old.
“Jerry has been a great addition to the Brighton family. He has lots of experience and has taught so much to so many others. He will definitely be missed,” said Bruce.
Jerry has a wife, five children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, with a third on the way. With so much love and so many young minds to teach, Jerry will definitely stay busy.