Tobyhanna Recognizes Employees on National Tradesman Day

Members News

Tobyhanna Army Depot observed National Tradesman Day on September 16 by shining a spotlight on some of its expert tradesmen and saluting all tradesmen who contribute to the organization’s mission.

The depot employs artisans in a variety of trades for both mission and base operations. Many of these tradesmen work in the Directorate of Systems Integration and Support (SIS), supporting refinishing and manufacturing operations vital to Tobyhanna’s overall mission supporting the joint warfighter.

Kenneth West is a General Equipment Repair Mechanic in the Systems Integration and Support Directorate. He chose to enter a trade simply because he had a passion for vehicles. West said he grew up riding and racing dirt bikes as a hobby and that he’s always felt a sense of gratification when learning how to take things apart and put them back together again. His father did a lot of mechanical work, which allowed him to get his initial look into working in that profession.

His passion for hands-on learning led him to the Motorcycle Mechanic School in Orlando, Florida which allowed him to get his start in the power sports industry. After spending a few years working at a small mom and pop store and then at Electric City Harley Davidson, West joined Team Tobyhanna in 2019.

Working in the Tactical Vehicle Branch, West is a member of the depot’s High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle shop where the team receives vehicles and then performs resets, repairs, inspections and more. West said he and the team understand how important the work they do is for our nation’s warfighters, and they take great pride in ensuring their work is done at the highest possible level.

“We’re helping out the Army and other branches of military by fixing these vehicles and making them mechanically sound for other bases and ultimately the battlefield,” said West. “Everyone in this shop takes pride in what they do. Every Humvee is worked on by a trained professional so that they’re sent out in the field one hundred percent mechanically ready to rock ‘n’ roll.”

Electronics worker Melvin Pena-Rivera is a member of Team Tobyhanna’s innovative Pre-Production and Planning Branch, responsible for onboarding and developing comprehensive processes for new cable workloads. The Branch’s mission was attractive because of its wide range of projects, Pena-Rivera noted.

“I like a challenge, and here I get the chance to do something different every day. I also can use many of the skills I have acquired to overcome the unique challenges presented during the prototyping process.”

Creativity runs in Pena-Rivera’s family – his father was a painter and sculptor, and Pena-Rivera himself enjoys artistic expressions such as producing original music, drawing and 3D modeling in his free time.

A relative newcomer to the depot, Pena-Rivera joined Team Tobyhanna in 2018 after emigrating to the United States. He left his home country of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria decimated the island, resulting in few job opportunities.

Despite having to start over, Pena-Rivera tries to bring the experience from his previous careers to his current one.

“Working as a technical engineer and drafter in Puerto Rico gave me skills and insight that I use to make Tobyhanna’s mission successful.”

Outside of his creative endeavors, Pena-Rivera enjoys movies, stand-up comedy and returning to Puerto Rico to spend time with his favorite two people: his daughter and his mother, whom he cites as a personal and professional inspiration.

“My mom is the hardest working person I know, and I’m proud to be her son.”

Tradesmen are also employed in other capacities at the depot, making meaningful contributions to the organization’s mission.

Gregory Kipp works in the Production Engineering Directorate, sustaining the critical equipment that powers the Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) warehousing system. Kipp and his co-workers play a key role in the logistics support required to achieve Tobyhanna’s mission.

A graduate of Johnson College, Kipp originally pursued a career in computer engineering, but quickly found he would rather make his living pursuing his passion.

“As a kid, I drove my parents nuts taking phones, calculators, and other things apart. During my early college years, I realized how much I missed that practical type of work, so I decided to change course.” Kipp subsequently earned a degree in Electrical Construction and Maintenance and joined Team Tobyhanna in 2004. He says he’s never looked back.

“I truly enjoy what I do, whether it’s troubleshooting a challenging problem or simple maintenance. Getting to do it with people I like is a bonus.”

Paul Deprimo, Chief of the Mobile Equipment Branch, says Kipp is a huge asset to his team.

“Greg continually strives to expertly maintain and repair any and all equipment he is responsible for, and does so with professionalism, dedication and pride.”

In his free time, Kipp enjoys cooking, woodworking, and spending time with his two young daughters. An avid movie-watcher, Kipp also boasts the unique achievement of having seen his favorite film, “The Fifth Element”, an astounding 140 times.