Richard Estes began his career on December 1st, 1981, with Fluor who, at the time, was Daniel’s Construction. Contracted by Anaconda to build what is now Logan Aluminum, Daniel’s hired Richard as a Data Entry Operator. A native of the Chandlers area in Logan County, he graduated from Western Kentucky University with a degree in information systems. Originally pursuing a major in accounting, Richard says that it was an information systems night class he took as a gen-ed requirement that changed the course of his career.
After Daniel’s Construction laid him off on June 18th, he was unemployed for only two days before being hired by Arco Aluminum on Monday, June 20th in 1983. Richard attended a week-long training class in Nashville, TN on the self-contained processing unit used by Arco at the time, known as System 34. Working from 4AM until noon, Richard got an early start each day on keying in equipment numbers. Richard said the good Lord opened a door when they brought in a mainframe system, and he became a computer operator. In this role, he worked straight midnights for a year and a half.
Richard worked in this role for several years before transitioning to a programmer role, where he spent thirty years of his career working on front-line cases. Currently the longest-tenured active team member, Richard is celebrating forty years at Logan Aluminum. That’s 14,620 days, 21 million minutes, and 1.3 billion seconds. Although he’s the second longest-tenured team member in Logan history, he’s the first to accomplish it all entirely at Logan Aluminum.
In the early years of his career, there were only about five-hundred team members at Logan and, according to Richard, everybody knew everybody.
“The older generation at Logan grew up together and became a family. I don’t feel like family was the intended end result, but it’s been a wonderful offshoot of the team concept,” Richard said. “We grew up together and felt like we had a stake in the success of the company. We had new equipment we’d never been around, and we had to learn to run, maintain, repair, and troubleshoot it. That gave us a sense of focus and ownership in our jobs.”
At Logan Aluminum, there’s nothing more important than our safety but, according to Richard, something that is equally as important is the individual. We’re a team, but we’re also individuals. It’s the combination of the individuals that make the strength of the team. There’s also nowhere in the Logan principles that says you can’t enjoy yourself. Richard said that he can count on one hand the number of times he didn’t want to come into work because it never felt like work to him.
If you’ve met Richard, you know that he’s an excellent storyteller and, over forty years, has an abundance of content. However, one of his favorite stories occurred years ago, when Richard was leading a meeting in the old managers’ conference room. Fred Mudge was Logan Aluminum President, at that time, and his executive assistant was Nancy Boggs. The conference room was behind Nancy’s desk, where Richard was waiting for one of his team members to show up. Richard left the room to make a call on the phone on Nancy’s desk and, unbeknownst to him, Fred had stepped behind him.
Richard said he’ll never forget seeing the company president’s striped tie flash by, as he accidentally body slammed him when turning around to go back into the conference room. After apologizing, Richard called Oak ‘N’ Ivy to send Fred a gift as an apology. Fred arrived at Richard’s office later that afternoon, telling him that he shouldn’t have done that. In Richard’s humorous way, he replied that he knew and that’s why he sent the gift.
It’s not just Richard’s classic sense of humor that sets him apart at Logan. If you’ve had the pleasure of meeting Richard Estes in the hallway, you’ve most likely heard him declare that he was, “blessed beyond words”. Since 1983, his commitment to his career, his dedication to helping others, and his contagious positivity has defined Richard and left a lasting impression on Logan Aluminum.
“Logan is not just a career—Logan is a lifestyle. It’s an opportunity for us to bring who we are to help increase the mix and make the mix that much better and richer for everybody else. There’s also a lot for us to take to make ourselves richer and more the person we’re supposed to be,” Richard said.
“Where else can you walk out into the plant and talk to folks willing to talk with you, and not down to you? It doesn’t matter what level they’re at—whether it’s an OT1, GTT, or company President—they’re always willing to take time. That’s an example for us to follow, but it’s also an example for us to set and live. Every day when we leave here, there’s one question we should ask ourselves—Did we make a difference? If we did, it was a good day.”
In 1985, Logan Aluminum built their first float for the Tobacco and Heritage Festival parade. Up until then, they had hired someone else to do it. Richard’s team leader was heading up the project, with Richard assisting him in renting the wagon and building the float. The next year, Richard pitched the idea of buying a wagon instead of renting one each year, to Fred Mudge. From 1985 until 2001, he either chaired, co-chaired or served on the steering committee for every Logan Aluminum float.
In 2001, the Logan County Chamber of Commerce asked him to be chair of the parade. After the tragedy of 9/11, Richard said Logan’s float with red, white, and blue with all military branches represented.
In 2001, the Logan County Chamber of Commerce asked him to be chair of the parade. He said that he accepted the position on one condition that candy would no longer be thrown onto to streets from floats. With children running to grab candy, Richard said that was a safety hazard he wasn’t willing to accept. Richard acted as chair for over eighteen years and said that he couldn’t have done it without Logan’s support.
“Logan exemplified that we were not just a member of the community—we were actively involved in our community,” Richard said. “It was really good to see the different floats over the years. We weren’t allowed to buy anything, so we had to create our floats from scratch. We went through rolls of chicken wire, gallons of wallpaper paste, and pounds of tissue paper.”
Richard said that Logan’s floats were so impressive that there was a rumor, at point, that we had hired people from New York City to design our floats each year. Hydraulic motors, audio, and motion made the floats unique.
Richard said his greatest accomplishment during his career at Logan Aluminum has been the friendships and family he’s had the opportunity to be a part of over the years.
“One of the first interactions I remember with Richard was when I was working in Finance in 1996. I was in charge of the Finishing inventory, and we would do a physical inventory, once or twice a year. We would always start in Finished Goods and start the count around three or four o’clock in the morning. We wanted to get it done early to get trucks released so you could get trucks shipping again. We had scanners, just like today, except we used a mainframe system where all the scanned information had to be uploaded to the mainframe. After we scanned and uploaded everything, there was something that wasn’t working properly. Guess who was helping us resolve this issue? As the hours clicked by, Richard was working his tail off. As a new team member, I was impatient and decided that I could go help Richard. I went in there, as if me standing there was going to help him do anything faster, and he was diligently working to find a solution. As a new team member in Finance, I was sweating bullets because everyone was looking at me wondering when we were getting trucks shipped. It was probably around midday, with the trucks probably lined up to Russellville, that Richard was able to resolve the issue. I’ve seen a lot of examples of this dedication since then. No matter the amount of effort required, Richard doesn’t hesitate. His commitment to customer service and positive attitude and approach to life is contagious.” –Chad Hardison
“I’ve learned so much from Richard over my last 30 years at Logan Aluminum. He’s served in almost every role within IS and is always super-helpful. Richard has a heart of gold and gives generously to everyone at Logan and our local community. His phrase is, “I take care of my peeps”. When there’s work to be done, challenges to overcome, and issues to deal with, he stays the course–at times, around the clock and around the clock again. He stays down in the trenches until everyone can come up with the issues resolved. Logan is a much better place because of him. I’ve had the privilege of working side-by-side with him during some of these times and greatly respect the intelligence, problem-solving abilities, persistence, and stability that he brings to the situation. Everyone is much more confident when Richard is in the mix! There are countless Richard stories that could be told–perhaps to match the number of jokes that he has told–of all the funny times, sad times, and joyous times. Richard considers the people at Logan as his family and strives every day to make it a better place for those around him.” –Jalee Page
“When I came to Logan as an intern I knew immediately that there was something different about Richard. He took the time to get to know me, to know facts about me. He took the time to be my friend. He took the time to be a mentor to me. He wanted to help me to learn and to be successful as a productive team member. Richard enjoys sharing his knowledge with others. Richard then and even to this day imbodies the characteristics of the Logan principles. These are all examples of how Richard has treated everyone that he’s come in contact with over the years at Logan.” –Kerry Edwards