Remembrances of an old ATTEX ATV employee

Must have been around 1972 or so that I was seeking employment and applied for a job at the ATV
Mfg. Co. which was located on Rt.8 in Glenshaw at that time. The rectangular building was fairly new
and was built of dark red brick. It sat just off the southbound lanes of Rt. 8 between the highway and
the railroad tracks. Just a little farther around the bend on the same side of the road was the Glenshaw
Glass Co.
I was interviewed by Bill Neely I believe and offered a job. My foreman was Howard Bonnart.
I still remember the first day of work on the ATTEX assembly line. Howard had me doing sub
assemblies, one of which was installing Velcro pads on the seat cushions and the black molded
seat/engine cowling. We had a piece of masonite that had holes drilled in it that was placed on the
cowling where the seat backs and bottoms went and chalk was used to mark the location for the
Velcro pads. They were then dipped into something like Acetone and held against the plastic where
they would kind of melt themselves into place. Then I moved on to installing the hinge to the cowling
and also the support cable. Eventually I moved up to the assembly line. This was very interesting
work for a young guy right out of high school. I don’t remember all the positions I held on that line,
but here are some of the things that stick out about the job. I would receive the lower half of the body
with the frame already installed. I then mounted the transmission using an electric chain hoist to set it
into place. I installed the chains and the steering arms. Pretty much had it ready to move on to the
testing station next. The fella that worked next to me was named Tim Lessic and it was his job to
make any adjustments to the drive train components and fire the engine up. One memory that sticks
out was the day he caught the end of his finger between the chain and one of the drive sprockets. I still
remember him bent over the lower body half checking the tension of the chains with one hand and
working the throttle and the brake levers with the other hand while the engine was wailing away. All
of a sudden he jumped back and let out a few expletives and blood was running from his finger. He
actually was using his fingers to pull up on the chains while the driveline was moving to check
tension. Needless to say, he was off for a quite a while.
Some of the other guys that I worked with were Bob Thompson and Ronnie Kushon. Ronnie was
quite a character. He had a big full head of long dark hair and a beard. He was also quite a big guy too.
He used to sing while he was working and we would tease him about it. His nick name was “bones”.
One of his jobs was installing the drive sprockets so we used to call him sprocket man like from the
Elton john song Rocket Man. We had a few good laughs from that one. Jim Brickman was the
warehouse manager and I remember him having to move these hot rods (I think one was a Corvette) in
and out of the building every day where they were stored for one of the owners. Every morning he
would fire them up and pull them outside, then go back in and get the other. Same procedure at night,
fire them up and pull them back in. Another worker that I was good friends with was Tom Hertwick.
He did a lot of pick up and delivery driving for the co. I also remember a big tall guy named
Hockenberry. They called him Lurch and I think he was in sales at the time.
Just some of the other things that I remember about the old plant was that the lunchroom was in the
crapper. Yeah, I don’t know who ever thought that one up but the restroom was fairly large and in the
center were two picnic tables. Invariably someone would go in there and take a dump right before
lunch and we all had to suffer. Most of the time I sat on the cardboard stacks out in the shipping area
to eat my lunch.
They had some pretty high tech ways doing things to help the assembly process. One of these
sophisticated procedures concerned the belly bands. (The black vinyl extrusion that went around the
body joint to cover the edges). These were glued together at the ends to form a complete circle which
had to be stretched over the body joint. To make this operation easier involved nothing more than a
light bulb on the end of an extension cord hanging in the cardboard box that the bands were delivered
in. This warmed them up just enough to make them very pliable and easy to apply. The other thing
was making the glue to adhere the two body halves together. Not some kind of high tech adhesive, no,
nothing more than taking trimming shavings of the yellow plastic bodies and mixing it in a coffee can
with some kind of solvent to make a kind of slurry which was spread between the body halves before
the top was placed and stapled.
In my employment at the Glenshaw factory I was never involved that much in the machine shop.
Now and then if they needed an extra body to drill axels or grind certain parts I was drafted for a day
or two. But other than that I worked the line.
Like a lot of young guys that grew up in the 60’s and 70’s I really can’t remember a lot of
details…you know what /I mean, so bear with me as I recall the big move to Lawrenceville into the
United Mfg. building at 55th. St and A.V.R.R. This was a huge old black factory building right next to
the river, arrived at by crossing over several sets of railroad tracks and through a chain link fence. This
must have been around 1973 or 74 or so. I was not involved that much with the actual move as we had
to keep production up in Glenshaw. When we finally did tear down the assembly line and load it all
on the trucks, they had most everything else set up in the new building. The new facilities now
housed the warehouse (which initially was on Saxonburg Blvd., a few miles down the road from the
Glenshaw operation) as well as a much larger machine shop that had a huge bending brake for forming
sheet metal, and more welding operations as we were gearing up to build mini bikes and camper
trailers. We also now had the giant vacu-forming machine to mould the bodies for the ATV’s. At this
time I also met Deek Scott. He was involved in ATV racing as well as new product development. He
worked in the R&D department. Another project that I was part of was the production of the tank
training vehicles for the U.S.Army. These were much bigger overall than the civilian model. They had
a roll bar cage and an extra set of wheels. The bodies were Olive Drab. We had to make a few changes
to the assembly line area to accommodate these monsters. I even remember the literature packets that
went along with the vehicles were designed to military specs. Special placards were attached to the
dash board.
One of the more nasty jobs I remember was having to drill out the big hole in the fiberglass muffler
guard. I was always itchy after doing that job even if for only a few hours. I also will never forget the
day that someone tried to steal a lunchbox full of nuts and bolts from the warehouse. Since there were
so many more employee’s at the new facility, each day we were required to leave the building by
passing through the “guard shack”. Well, one day as we were on our way out we heard this big
crashing sound and turned around in time to see a thousand little nuts and bolts scattered all over the
cement floor right in front of the guards. Apparently, some wise ass filled his lunchbox to the brim
with hardware and was carrying it by the handle which decided to let go at just the wrong moment.
We never saw that fellow again.
Most days for lunch we would walk up to the corner bar called NIEDS Tavern and have one of their
famous fish sandwiches. Around that time, ATV hired a new manager named Mel Zendell. He was a
miserable old fart and was part of the reason I left the Co. besides the fact that I was having to drive
nearly an hour to work each way. The new place was a lot bigger and you lost that closeness you had
with the original employees. As a matter of fact, a lot of the people that I had worked with up at the
Glenshaw plant were now gone. Also, at that time there was a movement to have a Union
representing the workers and if I remember correctly the Carpenters Union won the battle. Shortly
after that I quit the Co. and went to work for my Uncle at a job much closer to home.
Lastly, the only artifact that I have remaining from my time at ATV is one of the jackets they used to
sell. Here are a few pictures of it. It’s been hanging in the closet for 30 years now and still looks like

(Click on PHOTO to see large view of Jacket)

Robert Chesarek