Co-Workers Once More

You are here

Thursday, July 27, 2023


One day last summer, Lehigh Boiler Operator Marshall Pysher sent a silly meme to a group chat on Facebook. It motivated a former colleague to ask him a not-so-silly question.  

“You looking for anyone over there at Lehigh?” Dave Novogratz typed.

“You serious?” Marshall replied. “I know we’re hiring for the Mountaintop Boiler House.”

Six months later, Dave and Marshall are co-workers once more, though their locations and shifts don’t provide them much opportunity to hang out. We asked them to join us on the patio of the Packer Avenue Boiler House on a sunny afternoon for a chat about their jobs and how the Cash for Colleagues employee referral program brought them back together.


Not Quite Ready to Retire

Boiler Operators Dave Novogratz and Marshall Pysher smile as they sit outside the Packer Avenue Boiler House on a sunny May afternoonMarshall has been at Lehigh for more than three years, but his career in boiler operations began decades ago in Houston, Texas. In the mid-nineties, Dave and Marshall’s paths crossed at a plant in Northampton. They worked together there for more than twenty years. After the plant experienced layoffs, Marshall joined Lehigh’s crew tending the Boiler House on the Asa Packer campus. Dave moved on to what he thought would be his retirement job as a school bus driver. 

“I figured that's what I'll do,” Dave recalled. “I'll collect my Social Security, and I'll drive the school bus.”

As time passed, Dave realized he wasn't quite ready to give up the lifestyle that a full-time job can offer. So when he saw Marshall’s message, he figured he would take a chance. 

Cash for Colleagues an Added Bonus

There was one more element to this story of a happy reunion that made Marshall even more eager to refer Dave for the position: The Cash for Colleagues program. 

Cash For Colleagues provides a $500 bonus to a Lehigh staff member who refers a friend, former coworker, neighbor or family member who is then hired by Lehigh. 

It’s a simple process. Dave noted on his application that Marshall had referred him to the job. Once Dave was hired, Marshall had to confirm that he was eligible to receive the bonus based on the rules of the program. 

Marshall said he considers it a privilege to work at Lehigh, so referring someone to work here was something he didn’t take lightly. 

“There are a lot of things I took into consideration even beyond the skills for the job when I mentioned Dave to people here,” he explained. “The work we do takes a certain type of person. Operating a plant on a 24/7 basis requires particular integrity. If you call out you’re causing your co-workers to have to work extra hours on both sides of that shift. And we work alone a lot, so it’s important to have people who do the right thing when no one’s watching.”

“There are a lot of things I took into consideration even beyond the skills for the job when I mentioned Dave to people here....we work alone a lot, so it’s important to have people who do the right thing when no one’s watching.”
-- Marshall Pysher
A High-Quality Atmosphere

Dave and Marshall have both been impressed with the high-quality atmosphere in Lehigh’s boiler houses. After working in plants that burned dirty fuel in difficult conditions, they especially appreciate the clean and efficient systems in our facilities.

“The Mountaintop facility runs so consistently,” Dave said. “And there are so many backups. The level of stress here is much more manageable.”

Marshall says that while he would have referred Dave regardless of the Cash for Colleagues bonus, it was nice to be rewarded for helping Lehigh bring in good employees. And he was surprised at how quickly the money landed in his paycheck.

For Dave’s part, he’s enjoying all of the things that make working at Lehigh special. He has already attended symphonic band and string quartet concerts at Zoellner, and he’s making plans to check out athletics events during the upcoming season. Thanks to medical benefits for spouses, Dave’s wife has peace of mind and gets to spend her days helping their daughter with childcare.

“You know, nobody teaches you how to retire,” Dave reflected. “It's not easy. At least it wasn't for me. Now I’m staying busy and the job is great.”

For Marshall, recommending Dave was a no-brainer. “I think we're very happy that Dave is on board,” he said.

Want to learn more about the Cash for Colleagues program? Visit the Lehigh HR website.