Northampton Press

Tuesday, June 18, 2019
PHOTOS COURTESY STEPHEN HAYDEN  AND LARRY OBERLY Stephen Hayden, former Keystone plant manager, retired in 2012. PHOTOS COURTESY STEPHEN HAYDEN AND LARRY OBERLY Stephen Hayden, former Keystone plant manager, retired in 2012.
The 550-foot kiln in operation The 550-foot kiln in operation

Remembering Column

Thursday, August 22, 2013 by ED PANY, Curator Atlas Cement CompanyMemorial Museum in Columns

Retired Keystone manager recalls dedication of employees

Today, I continue my discussion with my friend Mr. Stephen Hayden, former manager of the Keystone Cement Company in Bath. Steve and his father recorded 68 years of service at the plant.

Stephen was given an excellent education at the Swain School in Allentown, where achievement and personal relationships contributed to a broad-based educational curriculum. The headmaster of the school was Mr. Jim Swain.

Stephen graduated in 1974 in a graduating class of six students.

"I know in a class of six, I made the top 10," Stephen comments with a sense of humor.

He continued his education at Keystone College in La Plume, Pa. and later at Clarkson College in Potsdam, N.Y., studying mechanical engineering.

"I guess I enjoyed college too much," he quips.

He wanted to work in the cement industry. His father, a Lehigh University graduate, was the chief engineer at the Keystone Cement Company. Steve started at Keystone as a crane operator, working with Stelwyn Coyle and John Schoeneberger.

Wanting to gain as much knowledge as possible, he bid on a vacant position in the control room. A control room is the heart of a cement plant, a room crammed with dials, controls and gauges covering all operations from kilns to grinding mills.

He mastered the technical aspects with the assistance of Frank Csencsitz, John Weiss and a former classmate of this writer and a fine man, Bob Henninger.

After six years, Steve transferred to the quarry working the afternoon shift. Then he advanced to utility and production supervisor.

In three years, Steve had learned every department in the plant.

Years of experience have their rewards. He was promoted to plant manager in 1992. It is a position that entails enormous responsibilities. As President Truman said, "The buck stops here." At the Keystone plant, it stopped at Mr. Hayden's office desk.

The former manager is proud of his 34 years at the plant.

Over the years, wise counsel was shared with him by this father and plant employees.

"During my years at Keystone, many Lehigh Valley cement plants closed," Mr. Hayden says. "Rumors said we were next on the list, but our employees would not hear of it. There was determination to keep the plant operating. We enjoyed some record-breaking years, producing cement of high quality which satisfied the building requirements of our many customers.

"We used the wet process in our production, to increase our quality and the plant added a 550-foot kiln. We also opened Kapco, a quarry supplying various grades of stone for construction projects."

As manager, Mr. Hayden has had to make many important decisions.

The plant must meet a volume of federal and state regulations and is subject to numerous inspections.

"We have had many dedicated employees, both men and women," Mr. Hayden says with emotion in his voice. "They on occasion faced emergency situations. They realized cement has a rich heritage in the Valley and they wanted to continue to be a part of it. I am especially proud of our employee relations. We never had a work stoppage."

Mr. Hayden leaves with a treasure of memories that he shared with his father for 68 years.

I wish my good friend Mr. Stephen Hayden a healthy and prosperous retirement. A humble man, he led Keystone through both challenging and prosperous years. He leaves knowing he strived to preserve Keystone as part of our local cement heritage.

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Much more in two weeks. See you then!