Hydraulics and the knowledge of Leroy


His life has been a good one. He graduated from Marysville High School in 1965 and not too
long after that went into a fantastically interesting career … hydraulics. When I first heard this term, I thought – I have no clue what that is. Then the explanations begin from the guy who referred him to me and Leroy himself. Leroy Cook has become a noted hydraulic expert and consultant. He now owns the company, ABC (Any Body Can) Hydraulics.
He grew up in the New Dover area. After high school graduation and a short stint in the military, he began his hydraulics journey began at Denison Engineering in 1968. You may have heard of the company many years ago. That is no longer the name of the company. Leroy thought … I’m looking for training and that’s where they are willing to do it. He didn’t know anything about engineering or hydraulics, but learned it for a very interesting career. In fact, he has traveled to at least 24 countries in his job.
He explained to me that when the company started, Mr. Denison was an engineer and he grew his business tremendously after World War II.
When Leroy was in training, he started by learning just to have a job and make some money, but then found that he really liked it. Eventually he would build and test hydraulic pumps worldwide and became one of the most well-known and respected hydraulics repairmen.
OK, what does that mean? Well, it meant that fortunately Leroy could travel all over the world doing his repair work. He tells me that hydraulics manage things like steering, raising and lowering anchors and running elevators on big ships. Much of his work has been done for the U.S. Navy and also for other countries on their large seagoing vessels.
Back in the beginning, Denison electronics made those controls and repaired them. Today, new pumps are $100,000. Leroy was in charge of that repair area for many years.
He and all the other workers had to have U.S. security clearance. Their work included large aircraft carriers of Italy, Australia, and Canada, in addition to the US.
To begin their work, they were flown in first class and well treated on airlines and stayed in beautiful hotels. Quickly, Leroy would meet with the shipbuilder and the two of them would try and solve whatever the problem was. Leroy would write a detailed report about how to fix the problem and hopefully that would work. Remembering those reports, Leroy thanked the wonderful training of his English teacher, Julia Hale, from Marysville High School. She taught him how to write and it has been a very useful skill.
If he was lucky, the repair was done quickly. The newer ships sometimes took as many as 30 days just to repair the steering.
He said he enjoyed working with the Italians. They loved to learn and work together. The Chinese were also extremely hard-working people. They didn’t have good English, but they could communicate.
Every once in a while he could take his wife Kathy with him, although most of the time she stayed at home taking care of their two children, who were growing up in the Marysville area. One year Leroy was gone 240 days, a tough time for the family then.
Some countries provided ways to learn. When working in Australia, a pipeline had to be laid down in the ocean to pump natural gas. This had to be done before his work. While waiting, he had a rental car and was driving down the road when he saw four to five kangaroos. So he stopped and got out and the kangaroos raised up like dinosaurs. For sure, that move scared him to death. It turns out kangaroos can be quite tall. The largest one got up on his back legs and Leroy later heard that they could use them to kick dangerously. He got out of there fast and never did that again.
He said that India is an interesting place with really calm nice people who are Buddhists and very religious. There were no threats there and Leroy was working on hydraulics in a steel mill. Sadly, everything seems to need work in India. The water’s bad. It just seems like there were too many people and not enough good healthcare.
Bahrain is another area in the Middle East where Leroy visited routinely for the U.S. Navy to repair ships. As a gesture of goodwill, we pay the country for repair time in their shipyard for our ships. This made good friends for the U.S. He says it’s a Muslim country and they even go out and pray on their ships before and after work. It’s also a place where women can’t drive.
Argentina was a favorite of Leroy’s and Kathy’s … well sort of. Her clothes were lost for one week of a three-week trip. He said that if they didn’t have two grandchildren they might just go live there. The town where he worked on the hydraulic generating station had a problem every day at 2 p.m. to keep their power from going off. He said that most air conditioning turns on at 2 p.m. and it overloads the system jeopardizing the area. So everybody has to have hydraulic generators to run their town. It was enough power to run the city of Marysville.
After traveling all over the world, literally, fixing hydraulic problems everywhere, when they retired, he and his fellow workers formed their new company, ABC Hydraulics to fix all the same type of equipment that they had traveled around the globe to do.
Now it seems there are only bits of lapses in retirement, especially since he likes to stay in touch with all those around the world. The Marysville area (and New Dover) can be proud of producing such a special person.
(Melanie Behrens – melb@marysvillejt.com)

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