After 46 years with Weldon, engineering manager John Bennett is ready for semi-retirement


John Bennett, Weldon’s engineering manager, was still in trade school when he interviewed for a draftsman position with the company.

It was 1978 and John remembers it as not the most conventional interview.

At the time, administrators at York Technical Institute – now YTI Career Institute – organized job interviews for students with prospective employers. They set John up to meet with Weldon’s then-president, vice president and chief of engineering.

There was just one catch – they forgot to tell John about it until the day of the interview.

“I went into that interview in jeans and a t-shirt,” John said. “Thankfully they were focused on my skills, not my clothes, and at the end of the interview they told me I could start working for them part-time while I was still in school.”

Once he graduated, he began working full-time and has been with Weldon ever since. Now, after 46 years, he has decided to retire – at least partially. He’s trading in his full-time status for part-time, so he’ll still be working for Weldon on engineering design, IT issues and other tasks Weldon’s engineers might not have capacity to handle.

From draftsman to manager and everything in between

When he started with Weldon as a draftsman, John was charged with drawing the details of mechanical and electrical assemblies on a drafting board, which was all done on paper in two-dimensional drawings. From there, he became a designer, where he created and developed the company’s famed CNC grinders.

After all the time he’s spent working for Weldon, John has personally designed or had a hand in designing nearly every one of the grinders the company builds, along with detail and analysis, which involves ensuring no parts will end up deformed during operation. He also trained new employees and passed his wealth of knowledge to the next generation of Weldon engineers.

John Bennett at a Weldon function in 1980.

After 15 years as a general designer, he spent another 10 as a machine designer. Machine designers’ skills are a bit more finely tuned to be able to create the CNC grinders, which require very narrow tolerances of less than 50 millionths of an inch.

John then became automation manager when Weldon started working with FANUC robotics in the early 2000s.

Then, in 2007, he was promoted to engineering manager, his current role. When he took the position, he was responsible for all engineering disciplines – mechanical, electrical and application. Starting seven years ago those were broken into three groups, and John became responsible for the mechanical engineering management.

ESOP, automation help company growth

Over the years, John has seen enormous changes at Weldon, and becoming an ESOP was at the top of the list. After Weldon became an ESOP – short for employee stock ownership plan – the company has done nothing but grow, he said.

He credits the ESOP for increasing employee retention since it incentivizes them to do their best on the job because when the company does well and profits, a portion goes straight to the employees. It’s no surprise, he said, that it’s relatively common to see people with 20 and 30 years of employment with Weldon.

“Weldon is doing something right to keep them engaged with what they’re doing, or providing a skill set they might not get elsewhere,” he offered.

Another major benefit to the company was moving into the robotic automation space. More companies in increasingly diverse industries have turned to automating their processes, and that has provided a major boost to help Weldon diversify its product offerings, John said. Robotic automation also keeps developers on their toes.

“Robotic automation is very challenging because you’re building something from nothing,” John offered. “With automation, the customer has a range of parts which need to be handled, and during the process of development it invariably changes in ways you didn’t plan for at the beginning of the job.”

He won’t be a stranger

John will miss the routine he’s enjoyed for the past 46 years. But he won’t be out of touch. Whether he’s needed 10 hours or 30, he’s glad to still have a hand in the Weldon work part-time.

He’ll continue to help troubleshoot issues, whether it’s for design, or taking on work other engineers are too busy for or helping solve problems with equipment on the floor.

“Weldon has always supported my interests, whether it’s been enhancing my software skills, additional training or trying a different R&D product,” he said. “It’s a relief that they’re letting me stay on part-time. I might be bored in retirement!”

John’s last day will be May 31, 2024. While his successor has not yet been named, John will help train that person and continue to support them in whatever comes up.

We wish John all the best in his semi-retirement. And if you’re interested in exploring career opportunities with Weldon, keep your eyes on our website:



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