WILMINGTON — A local man is proving it’s never too late to start something new — and there’s always more to accomplish.
Jake Skinner, 80, started working at Airborne in 2011 after getting his Airframe and Powerplant license. Skinner has been involved in some form of mechanical work ever since he drove a petroleum truck for his dad in Adams County.
“I’ve worked a little bit of everything you can think of,” said Skinner.
He’s worked at Frigidaire, Cincinnati Gas & Electric, and a Chevrolet dealership. He’s helped build Hopper railroad cars, worked at various Walmarts/Sam’s Clubs, and made Hobart food processors in Hillsboro.
He spent six years in the Ohio National Guard from 1963 to 1969 and was able to stay stateside working on anything with vehicles. From 1971 to 1979, he helped friends with a race car they bought, even raced in it a couple of times.
“We went up (to Greenville) in ’75 with a car. They got a big paying race up there in September every year. There were 168 cars there. We got into the race and got in a wreck in the first lap. Never made a dime. But that’s racing,” he said.
Like many people, he’s had several setbacks. Particularly with layoffs.
“I went through layoffs at several places,” he said. “The job I had at Hobart in Hillsboro, they sold their milling equipment to a place in China and they were to do their milling for two years. They sold the machines for a dollar apiece. When the machines left, the labor did too.”
He was laid off for two weeks until he got a call from the personnel manager saying, “It’s no longer a layoff, it’s a termination.”
Despite those unwelcoming occurrences that hasn’t stopped him from being active. Whether that’s arriving at Airborne in the wee hours of the morning or helping out with his church.
“I haven’t been chased off yet. So I guess I’m doing alright,” he said.
Don Morrow, the Manager of Airborne’s component repair facility, remembers when Skinner first came to work for them.
“The manager at the time said ‘there’s a new guy I want you to train’ and I’m expecting some young 20-year-old kid. Then here comes Jake who said ‘I just finished A&P school and I’m ready to begin’,” Morrow remembers.
Keeping active is the key thing that keeps Skinner going. He said it was his dad who helped instill that in him.
“I remember when I was a boy … [my dad] would say ‘come on, boys. We’re going to do this.’ Whether that was electric, plumbing, carpenter work, plumbing,” he said. “My dad would take the time to explain to you what he was doing and give you a reason to do it.”
Skinner does not want to stop and he hopes his advice for young people keeps them active, too.
“Don’t be afraid to get your hands wet, keep your ears open, and try to learn. There’s something new you can learn if you want. There’s a lot of information available to anybody that’s interested,” he said.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574.