Decades Of Masts | Rick’s CITY Story
In almost three decades on CITY’s maintenance staff Rick Mast seldomly finds problems he can’t fix but that’s because fixing things is his passion.
“I just get so much satisfaction from It’s not working, now it’s working,” Rick said. “I enjoy making things work like they should, as quickly as possible.”
Before his career in the laundry business, Rick worked for a truck company and was a truck driver and traveled to almost every state east of the Rockies. Driving trucks, fixing trucks and making sure other truck drivers had what they need became his passion, eventually leading him to make a career out of “fixing things.”
The reason why Rick didn’t end up driving for the rest of his life was his home and family. Rick is a homebody. From Hazleton to Independence, Rick has called Eastern Iowa his home for all of his life. Five years into his journey in the trucking industry and after the birth of his son Eric, Rick knew he wanted to come home and so he did.
From a young age, Rick knew about CITY. His dad used to deliver bed linens and towels for colleges in Northeast Iowa. He would go to the dormitories and made sure each room had materials to stay fresh and clean. His mother also worked at CITY as part of the production team. Today, Rick is proud of his family connection to CITY.
“It really is a family affair,” Rick said. “At different points in time, a sister-in-law worked here, my brother worked at CITY Laundering, my father worked at CITY Laundering, my mother worked at CITY Laundering and now my son and his wife work here. It’s so great to be able to see my son and daughter-in-law on a daily basis.”
Rick is proud of Eric, who has been with CITY for over a decade. His son is an integral part of CITY’s operation as part of the plant’s team of washroom operators. He is also a team captain making sure production runs as smoothly as possible.
“When one of the machines in the washroom has a problem, Eric comes up to me and really has it narrowed down what’s wrong,” Rick said. “He can sometimes hear a noise and say, ‘Hey, this motor is going bad’ and then I can go focus on it, it’s a father-son duo.”
Because family is so important to Rick, he says he has built a strong connection to CITY that’s now lasted over multiple decades. He is proud to work for a company that prides itself on being family-owned and supports the community and its people even through hard times. During a devastating fire in 1993, CITY’s plant in Oelwein was completely destroyed. Rick says, people feared they wouldn’t be able to return to work or CITY would leave Oelwein, but Rick knew that wasn’t going to happen.
“The Wetlaufers [the company owners] are loyal to this community, loyal to this city and loyal to their employees,” Rick said. “Most employees didn’t miss hardly any time after the fire and I don’t think we missed any deliveries.”
Rick has worked for two Wetlaufers during his time at CITY and has great respect for a family that has given his family so much. When Roger Wetlaufer stepped down in 2017, his son Colin became president. Rick watched Colin grow up at CITY’s plant. He recalls seeing him work on the manual sorting system that was installed at the plant in the ’90s. “He was almost not even as tall as the [uniform] sorts and there he is hanging the clothes,” Rick said. To this day, Rick enjoys seeing Colin in the plant and talks to him whenever he can.
“Colin always makes time for everyone,” Rick said. “Even though I might not see him for a couple of weeks, it still seems like family every time.”
Coming up on 30 years at CITY, Rick knows it’s time for retirement soon but not quite yet. He enjoys problem-solving and making CITY the best it can be and even if he retires tomorrow, he thinks he wouldn’t be able to stay away.
“Who knows, if they have a part-time shuttle driver job open, I’ll take it,” Rick said.