Celebrating a century in Pittsburg

It was an all-hands-on-deck celebration for Atkinson Industries’s 130 employees on Thursday.

The company spent the morning commemorating 100 years of business operations in Pittsburg, and reflecting on its history.

“We’ve evolved. When I first started, we were a much smaller company only doing a few million dollars and with about 50 employees. But now we’re up to 130 employees, and around a 30 million dollar range of sales and revenue,” said Keith Ritchey.

Keith Ritchey is a marketing and sales manager who’s been with Atkinson for 27 years, but the company was evolving long before he joined the team.

In 1919, Atkinson started off repairing and producing motors for local coal mines and eventually graduated to creating mining gear used by mines worldwide. But in the 70s, they started building modular enclosures which provide industrial customers with a safe space to store valuable equipment and technology. And for now, that remains Atkinson’s game plan.

“We see continued growth. The building of buildings hasn’t changed but the types of materials you use do change. And so we are seeing some changes in the types of materials we’re using, and things like that,” said Ritchey.

Atkinson’s century celebration was about more than its history, however. Company leaders took time to thank the company’s backbone: its employees.

“Well, it’s the workforce. It’s the people. You hear that a lot about Pittsburg, Kansas and Southeast Kansas in general. It’s the people. It’s the good workforce. A lot of people work hard in this area and have a lot of pride,” said Ritchey.

James Cook is a 40-year member of the Atkinson workforce who turned his job into a career, and he hopes younger 4-Staters follow his path.

“Surprisingly, you don’t have to get an education at Pitt State and move away. There are good jobs available in all kinds of work right here in this location,” said Cook.