These days, many American workers are more mobile than touring musicians. They arrive at a new job, spend enough time to learn a few skills, and then they’re gone again. According to a 2018 poll, nearly two-thirds of American workers are in favor of “job hopping,” or switching jobs frequently.
This trend probably isn’t slowing down any time soon, either. Of those polled for the study, the youngest generation was most likely to be in favor of job hopping.
This tendency for changing jobs certainly has its benefits. After all, many employees move on for better pay, better opportunities, or better conditions. But it does feel like something has been lost when companies and their workers no longer feel a loyalty to one another.
That’s why Richard Sitlinger’s retirement at MI Windows and Doors was considered such a milestone. Sitlinger, known as “Sitch” to everyone at MI (although a few also called him “Pop”), retired this year after 52 years with the company. He started the same year in which the first Super Bowl was played, two years before Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon, and seven years before Richard Nixon resigned the presidency. He retired nearly two decades into the new millennium.
Sitch was a bit of a Jack-of-all-Trades at MI. He worked on window screens before moving to the storm-window line, ultimately ending up in maintenance. Along the way, he built a reputation as someone who could fix anything.
Former MI Windows CEO and now Chairman of the Board Pete DeSoto hired Sitch back in 1967. He made a point to send an open letter to MI’s current team members praising Sitch’s dedication to the company. “Sitch did a lot of different jobs with us over the years,” Pete says. “He has an amazing ability to evaluate an operation or machine and figure out what should be happening and somehow make it happen.”
As for Sitch himself, he gives off an “aw shucks” demeanor when asked about his contributions to MI. He’s proud of his 52-year service to the company, but he’s not the kind to start crowing about himself. “I must have done something right,” is as far as he goes.
But when he’s asked what he liked about MI, Sitch is quick to extol the opportunities he had. Not only did he work in a variety of fields – Sitch even taught himself how to do lighting and electrical work, eventually doing both for MI’s plants in Pennsylvania – he also traveled frequently for MI.
“They showed me the country,” he says. “The first time I flew, they flew me to San Francisco to work out there for a week.”
MI later sent him to plants in Texas, Georgia, Florida, Arizona, and Washington state. At each stop, he’d show the team the ropes. But ultimately, most of his work was done in his native Pennsylvania. He began working in a building that had been a service garage in tiny Elizabethville, Pa, before DeSoto bought it. By the time he retired, Sitch had worked in eight different buildings in the Keystone State.
Along the way, his longevity with the company was rightfully recognized and applauded. By 2019, he’d already been the company’s longest-tenured employee for years. In a 2017 video that MI developed, Sitch figures prominently alongside his sons Brent and Kyle and daughter-in-law Shannon, who also work at MI.
Of course, the Sitlinger family is one of many multi-generational clans at MI. But not all of them have a patriarch like Sitch, a man whose tenure has seen a huge amount of change. He began just months after the company opened its first factory in Pennsylvania. By the time of his retirement, Pennsylvania was home to three MI plants, a customer support center, and approximately 1,500 team members. What’s more, MI has grown from a window screen fabricator to one of the largest manufacturers of windows and sliding glass doors in the country.
And Sitch has enjoyed every minute of his journey. He says he would definitely encourage others to work for the company. Ask him why, and he has a simple answer: “It’s a good place; they treated me nice.”
When asked if he has any words of advice for potential and current team members, Sitch demurs – “just go do it, and that’s it,” he says. It’s a simple sentiment, but one perfectly in keeping with a man who, for 52 years, just put his head down and got to work.
“He was always the quiet guy with a smile who could get to the root of the problem and get it fixed,” DeSoto says. “We were lucky to have Sitch with us all these years.”
"MI is Family" Video Features 'Sitch'