Retiree’s thoughts revolve around a lifetime of building
During most of the 40-plus years he ran his business, masonry contractor Kenneth Snook had little time to think about the work his Jersey Shore firm had done.
“When you completed one project, you might have some pride, but of course you had to go right onto the next job or you’re not going to succeed. I was always a little apprehensive going to a new job until you got to know the people and the circumstances you were dealing with,” Snook said.
However, when asked what was on his mind, Snook took some time to share his thoughts on his lifelong career, which he started with a brick layer apprenticeship at the age of 17.
For the most part, he really enjoyed working outdoors.
“Sometimes in the real heat of the summer or real cold of the winter, it wasn’t very pleasant, but that goes with the occupation,” said the father of eight.
“There were times when the economy was flat, when the building boom wasn’t the greatest,” Snook said, adding that the economy always seemed to rebound over time.
“It seemed sometimes that when the housing market was down, the commercial building business was doing OK, like schools,” said Snook, who retired 15 years ago.
“To tell you the truth, when you’re in business, all the projects just seemed like a big blur, you’re just busy every day. You didn’t have a lot time to reflect on it,” he said.
When one is in the building business as long as Snook was, it is very easy for him to look around and see all the different projects his firm took part in.
Here are just a few: Lycoming College, the Lycoming Mall, Central Plaza in Montoursville and Central Equipment Co. Sales and Rentals in Fairfield Township. His company also built an addition to the Williamsport Hospital in the mid-1980s.
“I did quite a bit of work at Penn State University, academic buildings,” said Snook, who, along with his wife, Norma, a retired Jersey Shore School District teacher, have 15 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
“I’ve been a part of several jobs that I’m kind of proud of,” Snook said.
Kenneth Snook Masonry Contractors hired upward of 50 people a year depending on the number of projects it got.
“It all depended on how many jobs you got in a year,” Snook said. In a good year, his company would get as many as 10 jobs. Half that many on a slow year, he added.
One of the last jobs his firm handled before he retired was the building of Jackson Elementary School in the city’s Newberry neighborhood. His firm received an award from the Masonry Contractors Association of Central Pennsylvania for his company’s work on the building.
The association awarded Snook’s firm with similar awards years earlier for work done on academic buildings at Penn State.
“You always wanted to make sure the customer was satisfied,” Snook said.