Jim Waitzman (Seated) and (L-R): Jim Waitzman Jr., Bill Roberts and Dan Stracener represent four generations of Tractor Equipment Company CEO’s.
As a part of a year-long celebration of its 70th anniversary, Tractor & Equipment Company (TEC) extended an invitation to all of their retired personnel from all branches for a luncheon at the company’s Birmingham, Ala., headquarters branch facility on May 20. The event was held to honor and commemorate the hard work and dedication of those that have retired and had contributed to the company’s success over the past 70 years. A turnout of more than 20 retirees came out to join other TEC staffers and manufacturer representatives. Retirees and guests turned out for the event from all over the Southeast region.
A huge outdoor event tent was set up at the rear of TEC’s corporate headquarters facility. Retirees, guests and current staffers joined together and were provided with a spread of hors d’oeuvres, and the opportunity to look over a vast array of memorabilia from the company’s 70 years in business. Golf carts were available for those that wanted to take tours of TEC’s Birmingham headquarters, and take a look at how the operation has grown and evolved over the years.
Parked under the tent was a 1943 International T6 that was impeccably restored by retiree, Ollis Stracener and other staff members back in 1999. When asked about the machine, Stracener didn’t miss a beat.
“We [TEC] sold this machine with a winch on it to a logger in Double Springs, Ala. A friend of mine bought it from Delbert Lyles and he kept it for a long time and it eventually just ended up in the woods. So he gave it to me [the winch had long been removed] and we decided to restore it, which took probably six months altogether,” said Stracener.
The 1943 T6 became a showpiece and a reminder of how machines were designed at the beginning of Tractor & Equipment Company.
“The tractor has been shown at all locations of Tractor & Equipment Company at one time or another. They even had to repaint it again since 1999 as it had faded,” said Stracener.
The centerpiece of all the displays was an immense neon tubed International tractor sign that has been in restoration for seven months at TEC. The sign measures approximately 20’ wide x 14’ high with all new hand blown neon. The sign, originally from North Carolina Equipment Company, was in rough shape when purchased. TEC in Birmingham quickly began the restoration process, and is around 90% complete. North Carolina Equipment Company had two of these unique signs built for them in 1947, this one coming from the Greensboro, N.C., branch.
Tim Tipton, vice president of product support marketing at TEC spearheaded the restoration project. He said that somewhere between 800 to a 1,000 man-hours have been poured into the steel and porcelain sign so far.
“The original look of the sign had been covered over in yellow paint, which we stripped away and took down to the original porcelain finish, said Tipton. The interior steel frame that holds the sign together required extensive refabricating and rewelding. We paid careful attention to maintaining as much of the original sign substructure as possible.”
Tipton went on to say that Tate McNees in the TEC aftermarket department was a big help on the project.
“If it weren’t for Tate this wouldn’t have happened. He was responsible for outsourcing the hard to find componentry for the restoration and line up the new neon tubing, as well as, powder coating and painting, said Tipton. He also worked with another tin fabricator in designing each piece that needed replacement and ensuring they were exacting to what originally came off the machine. He located old replacement glass, Pyrex containers and everything needed, and made sure the wiring was done the same way as original and the animators were done correctly.”
Tipton had high praise for the work of welders Steve Faulkner and Todd Phillips.
“Those two gentlemen stayed on this project for several months and put a ton of welding and engineering work into this restoration. There was a lot to this project, but it was a lot of fun. We had a great time doing it, and sometime in the future we plan on finishing this off and lighting the other side,” said Tipton.
As the retiree party concluded, everyone enjoyed a piece of 70th anniversary cake and parting gifts were given.