This Martin retiree was born when company was: 1912
KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Roy S. Greenough winces slightly when he recalls the 24-hour work shifts at the Glenn L. Martin Co. during World War II. With tens of thousands of other workers, he built warplanes at Martin's Baltimore plant to fight Hitler's Third Reich.
"Sometimes we'd work around the clock to get those planes out the door," he said. "A lot of times, people didn't have a chance to go home. Wives would come to the plant and bring their husbands a change of clothes."
The memories are still vivid for the Kissimmee resident, who turned 100 in July — just a month before his longtime employer celebrated its own century mark.
Like many of his generation, Greenough honed a strong work ethic that became his trademark. But few people today have had the same connection with their employer that Greenough had with the Glenn L. Martin Co. — now Lockheed Martin Corp., the nation's biggest military contractor and one of Central Florida's biggest employers.
Not only was Greenough born just weeks before U.S. aviation pioneer Glenn L. Martin started his company in August 1912, he also grew up in Cleveland, which became the company's headquarters in 1918, when Martin moved there from California. As a youngster, Greenough said, he saw the company founder nearly crash-land his plane at a local airfield.
"We heard this huge roar and saw this airplane coming around the house," he recalled last week during an interview at his son's Osceola County home. "We saw it land and go rolling, rolling, finally right into a picket fence. I got over there just in time to see Glenn Martin climbing out of his plane. And 20 years later, I went to work for his company."
Greenough's early encounters with Martin and his company carried little weight when it came to his initial job and salary. By the time he reported for work in the late 1930s, in the final stages of the Great Depression, the company had moved its headquarters and manufacturing operations to Baltimore.
"I started right at the bottom, in riveting," he said. "They paid me 46 cents an hour, which was a penny more than the average starting wage, since I had experience and had gone to aircraft school. But that was a big thing then — times were tough, and that was good money."
With his know-how and management skills, Greenough was soon promoted to supervisor. After America joined the war against the Germans and Japanese in 1941, he was among the first managers to supervise female riveters, hired to replace the thousands of Martin employees drafted into the military. World War II historians say Martin's early female workers helped inspire the 1942 song "Rosie the Riveter," which became a popular symbol of the U.S. war effort and, some say, an early feminist icon.
Greenough organized a training school for the company's "Rosies" and other new employees to get them onto the factory floor as quickly as possible. As the war continued and the military's equipment needs increased, the company's hiring expanded further to include teenage boys, he said.
After the war, however, the huge work force dissipated amid massive postwar layoffs. Greenough went from supervisor to factory-line worker again. He eventually looked south for new opportunities and in 1957 landed a management job in Martin's brand-new missiles plant at Sand Lake and Kirkman roads south of Orlando.
Seven years before the Walt Disney Co. even announced its intention to build a giant theme-park resort south of the city, Greenough arrived to find a community dominated by citrus agriculture. But Martin, with its manufacturing and engineering expertise, introduced a new breed of industry and worker to the region — people such as Greenough, whose first task was to solve problems dogging Martin's then-new Pershing I, the mobile, medium-range ballistic missile later credited with helping end the Cold War.
"I had the reputation by then of being kind of a troubleshooter," he said. "I could find out what was going wrong in a factory line and figure out how to fix it."
Greenough confronted a program that was way behind schedule and getting worse. He eventually concluded that the main culprit was — of all things — the paints-and-finishes department.
"Turned out they didn't care much about delivering or moving anything at all," he said. "I went in there and read them the riot act."
It didn't take Greenough long to solve the program's problems, said his son, Jim Greenough, who works for Lockheed Martin in Orlando as a software-quality manager in the company's Global Training & Logistics Division. Earlier in his career, Jim Greenough worked on the Pershing II missile program.
"Dad was able to get it back on track," his son said of the original program, "and within six months, it was ahead of schedule."
After retiring from Martin in 1970, Roy Greenough worked for a decade as part-time clerk for a local lumber company. He retired for good in 1980 and traveled the country in a motor home with his wife of 56 years, Kathryn, who died in 1998.
Greenough remains active these days, especially in pursuing his favorite hobby: carving replicas of classic warplanes. He has about 40 such carvings, some intricately detailed. His favorite piece is a replica of the Martin MB-2 bomber — the same plane he saw Glenn Martin roll into that picket fence more than 90 years ago in Ohio.
"If you just listen to his stories, you realize the tremendous work ethic and character my dad has," Jim Greenough said. "He's worked through the years to support his family and his country. He's been a big role model to me and everyone who knows him."