Bo Calvin – Schad Salesman – Project Manager
Bo Calvin began his career in the refractory industry in the early 1950’s as a bricklayer apprentice. “I began my apprenticeship in 1952 and completed it in 1956,” he said at a recent lunch at Miller’s Bar in Dearborn, Michigan. Right after he completed his apprenticeship, he decided to join the Army where he served two years of active duty and four years in the reserves.
When he completed his active duty in 1958, he returned to masonry. The craft he had learned prior to joining the military. As he tells the story, “in 1958 when I returned, things were pretty slow, and I didn’t work much for a year. In 1959, I began knocking on doors. I had heard of Schad, and so I knocked on their door. Jim Schad, Mrs. Mitchell, and Tex were there. They told me they didn’t have any work for me. I tried again and again. On the third try, they gave me a shot.” From that time, Bo worked at Schad in several capacities until his eventual retirement in 1997.
Bo recalls how demanding the work was; we worked a lot of overtime. Customers would have you quote projects based on straight time and the next thing you knew you would be working seven twelves because they needed their furnaces back. “We worked a lot of weekends back in those days, and the guys never turned it down,” he remembers. He also remembers how hard the work was recalling that the castables and mortars came in 100-pound containers instead of the current 50/55 pound packaging. He remembers unloading trucks when there weren’t forklifts available, and he remembers mixing materials by hand by pouring them into a mortar box and hoeing them back and forth.
Bo remembers a lot of Schad’s earliest accounts and projects. These included projects for Chrysler, Ford/Rouge Steel, McLouth Steel, Dundee Cement, and Marathon Oil. “I was at Marathon Oil the day that Kennedy was shot,” he remembers. Some of Schad’s first “big” jobs were at that refinery.
Throughout his career at Schad, Bo served as a bricklayer, a superintendent, and a project manager. He remembers that it was hard work but the relationships were very meaningful with the customers, suppliers, and with his fellow employees.
Bo was well liked and respected by his customers as well as his teammates at Schad. “To this day, I have never heard Bo use a curse word, but when he used to look at you and say, ‘Shorty, get over here.’ you straightened up really quick,” recalls Bo’s longtime Schad co-worker Dave Sullivan.
Bo formed a lot of lasting relationships throughout the industry. He remembers working a lot with Harbison Walker, AP Green, and Chicago Firebrick. He even received an award from Harbison Walker for attending the first twenty consecutive Contractor Installer Seminars. “I never wanted to miss a party,” recalls Bo with a laugh. The accompanying photo features Bo on the right with longtime Harbison Walker representative Bob Lutz.
Bo still resides in Metro Detroit.
Schad would like to thank Bo Calvin for his service to the company and acknowledge that its 75 year history would not be possible without the hard work and dedication he committed throughout his career.