Chuck VandenLangenberg, the second-longest tenured employee in the 86-year history of H.J. Martin and Son, retired from the company last month after 46.5 years. Only John Richards, who retired from the glass division in 2012, was employed by H.J. Martin and Son for a longer period (50 years).
Remarkably, VandenLangenberg missed only two days of work in his time with the company. At retirement, he served as Residential Crew Manager, overseeing approximately 50 flooring installers.
“Employees like Chuck VandenLangenberg have made this company successful and helped it grow to what it is today,” says President and CEO Edward Martin. “He was a pillar of our residential flooring division for almost five decades. On top of that, Chuck has helped to bring many family members into H.J. Martin and Son who also have made great contributions. In fact, while on a job site the other day, I met his grandson, who is a third-generation employee.”
VandenLangenberg began working part-time, unloading tile from boxcars, at H.J. Martin and Son in 1969 at the age of 17 while a student at Green Bay’s Preble High School. After graduating in 1970, he joined the company on a full-time basis in January of the following year.
Initially, VandenLangenberg worked in the company’s warehouse, where he cut glass and was a truck driver. Within six months, he began as a residential flooring installer, ultimately becoming the acknowledged top installer at H.J. Martin and Son.
After nearly 30 years in the field as a residential installer, VandenLangenberg was promoted to Residential Crew Coordinator around the year 2000. Using his vast experience as a guide, he initially oversaw a crew of roughly 28 installers, serving as a mentor and coordinating the installer schedule. VandenLangenberg also worked with area contractors and the company’s sales staff to resolve any issues which might arise.
“I really enjoyed installing,” says VandenLangenberg. “When you go into a home for a remodel job, people are letting you take their house apart, fix it up and it turns out really nice. The most satisfying thing for me, though, was later when I became the crew coordinator, to train people to be flooring installers – and to be good at it.”
For VandenLangenberg another rewarding aspect of his time with H.J. Martin and Son was the opportunity to work with 12 different family members at various points throughout his career. His son, Gary, started with the company at age 16 as an installer helper and rose through the ranks to become vice president of commercial interiors in 2014.
One of his brothers, Bill, remains with H.J. Martin and Son as commercial crew coordinator, and three other brothers – Tony, Bert and Lee – have worked for the company at one time or another. Another of his sons, Chuck Jr., once worked summers, and today a grandson, Matt, and step-grandson, Nathan, work in the same capacity while in college. Additionally, two brother-in-laws, Don VandenAvond and Scott VandenAvond, are current employees, and two of Bill’s sons, nephews Tyler and Doug, have been H.J. Martin and Son installers.
“I truly enjoyed working for Edward Martin and the Martin family,” says VandenLangenberg. “If you’re going to work for a flooring company, this is the best place to work, by far – they treat people the best. They expect their employees to perform, but they don’t meddle; they let you do your job.”
Brian Valentine, who worked with VandenLangenberg for more than 20 years, assumed many of his duties following his last day on the job (June 2, 2017).