Tuesday, April 21, 2009

On the Job: Regal Pickles

On the job
David Giorgio, Plant manager, Regal Pickle Works, Worcester

Age: 45
Native of: Worcester
Residence: Millbury
Family: Married, two children
Time in current job: Seven years

What do you do?

“I supervise our crew, production, quality control, the set, labeling of containers. Pretty much anything that has to get done, I have my hand in it. When I was hired, I started working on the line with the guys and I learned everything as I went along.”

How did you find this job?

“I was working at a sheet metal company, which was closing because the owner was retiring. My sister-in-law owns a restaurant on Park Avenue and she knows Doug, the owner of this place, because she buys her pickles from him. He told her he was looking for someone, she highly recommended me to him, and then he gave me a call.”

How does a cucumber become a pickle?

“After the cucumbers are received in the building in large bins, they are dropped into a hopper and go through a wash station, then they are lifted up into a conveyor. If we’re pickling whole cucumbers, they are lifted from there into a pail filled with brine. If the cucumbers are to be turned into spears or chips, they get sent to another machine that actually rolls the pickles so we can inspect them more closely. They then go on to a high-speed belt, which sends them to a spearing or chipping machine.”

Do you oversee how the briny pickle juice is made?

“Doug does most of the brine, but I do make brine on occasion.”

How many pickles a day do you produce?

“There are days when we have done a whole truck of 20 bins, each weighing 2,000 pounds. We can do a truck in a day.”

What is the best part of your job?

“I like the people who come to the front door to buy pickles from us retail. They tell me stories, like they are heading to the Cape or New Hampshire and they say, ‘I have to bring these.’ I’ve had people from Wyman-Gordon come in with 25 one-gallon pails for all the guys in the shop.”

What is the worst part of your job?

“The worst-slash-good part of the job is the smell. There are times I come in here and I don’t smell anything and there are times when I smell it a lot. It’s not bad, but it does get into your clothes and when I get in my car, which has leather interior, it reeks of pickles. There’s no escape. When I used to work at the sheet metal company, they’d coat the steel with fish oil, so that has a unique smell to it. My wife prefers the smell of pickles to fish oil.”

Does eating too many pickles become an occupational hazard?

“I think that when you start in any food business, a restaurant or pickles, whatever it is you are doing, you have a tendency to eat a lot of that product. Then you kind of back off a little bit because you’ve had too much, but I always eat them. It took me about a year before I would try a pickled tomato. They smell very good, but to me the thought of eating a pickled tomato didn’t strike me. Six months later, I had an urge to eat one and I can’t get enough of them now. I don’t know what it is, if my taste buds changed or what, but I love them.”

What are the busiest times of year for you?

“The holidays in general are busier, with Passover, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.”

Has the economy affected your business?

“It’s slowed a little bit. But because we are in the food business, we stay afloat. We haven’t had to lay anyone off, which is a good feeling.”

Know any good pickle jokes?

“I don’t. You’ll have to talk to Doug. He can rattle off a hundred.”

Compiled by: Correspondent Richard Price

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