Not Your Regular Joe

Not Your Regular Joe
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SPRAY FOAM MAGAZINE – Joe Casas is dedicated, hardworking, patient, and loyal, and for the past 55 years he has dedicated himself to the trade, spending eight of these years at SWD Urethane. This quiet and unassuming leader will be retiring at the age of 75, and as that time nears, his coworkers look back and honor the man, the memories, and the legacy he’s leaving for the generations that are following in his footsteps.

Joe was born in Mexico and at a young age he immigrated with his family to the United States, where he spent most of his life living and working in Texas. Before Joe began his career in the SPF industry he served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam. When he returned home, he became an assistant with Quik Foam Insulation out of Dallas, TX where he sprayed mostly cold storage and commercial applications along the Gulf Coast. The year was 1971 and Joe earned a starting salary of $2.50 per hour. In the early ’70s, Joe did a three-month stint in Alaska, spraying and insulating 15 miles of Alaskan pipeline.

In the mid-1970s Joe was back in Texas and notably worked for Julius Corte & Associates alongside Mason Knowles, veteran SPF consultant, who first met Joe when he worked for Knowles’s father in the early ’70s. At the time, a spray foam applicator had to be a spray foam mechanic to run a rig. If something broke down, they had to fix it. They did have spare parts, but it was up to the person running the rig to keep it going. During this time, they did a wide variety of jobs from small to large industrial and commercial applications. Some jobs called for one to two kits of foam and others 50 to 100 kits of foam.

Joe Casas with fellow SWD co-workers Jim Watkins, Ken Doiron, John Thompson

The larger jobs frequently required the insulation to have no more than 1/4-inch tolerances. So, the applicator had to trim a lot if they could not spray it smoothly at four to six inches. Knowles elaborates, “Joe consistently had the least amount of trimming on his jobs, and he was one of the best mechanics we had. Frequently, other mechanics went to Joe to get advice on how to get the equipment running. We are not only talking about the foam and coating machines but also, generators, compressors, trimming tools etc. Joe is one of the hardest workers I have ever seen and did not get frustrated easily. He rarely got upset about situations, problems, or other workers. One story — some years ago, I got a call from a manufacturer asking about possibly hiring Joe. I said, ‘Hire him,’ He replied, ‘I haven’t told you what the job is.’ I said, ‘If it has to do with spray foam, hire him.’ I have very fond memories of working with him and wish him the best of luck in his retirement.”

A good part of Joe’s career in the ’70s and ’80s was spent as an SPF roofer, with one of his most memorable roofing applications being 250,000 sq.ft. at the Texas A&M University. Another notable job included working in the oil fields of Texas applying foam to refineries. Joe has had some epic moments throughout his years including a job that required him to spray an oil tank in 105°F plus temperatures. While inside the tank, the temperature rose to a balmy 160°F. Recalling that project, Joe said, “Nothing else I have experienced compared to the heat experienced on that project.”

During his well-deserved retirement, Joe plans on spending quality time in San Antonio with his lovely wife, Juana.

Joe worked for Robert Gilmour at Icynene for 10 years as a Technical Services Representative before joining SWD. Robert thinks back to those times saying, “Joe was an extremely valuable member to our team. At the time Joe joined Icynene, he had many years of experience as a sprayer, but limited experience on computers and training. Joe took it upon himself to quickly become one of our most valuable trainers and earned the respect of both his colleagues and the hundreds of technicians that he would train for Icynene. Joe has a great sense of humor, if we could only get him to smile. I will always remember Joe as a dedicated worker and family man and wish him all the best in his retirement.

Jim Watkins is Joe’s Manager at SWD, and reflects on his time working with Joe, “Working with Joe has been very rewarding. He’s first and foremost a caring and compassionate man. He has always welcomed any question I asked of him, and I always learned something new. Whether it be a life lesson or something in our field of work, I always walk away with a greater knowledge, perspective, and just a better person. 

Joe has been in the trenches for a long time and acquired a skill set that most strive for. He has seen this industry make leaps and bounds that most of us only hear of from the seasoned veterans. I’ve seen Joe working with the younger generation and the respect they have for him, and the fire in their eyes afterwards is something else. This industry isn’t losing out because of his retirement, but has grown to where it is, and will continue to grow, because of his contributions and the knowledge that he has passed. Joe will be missed, but honored!”

SWD’s Jeremiah Schoneberg has known Joe for 12 years. Jeremiah refers to Joe affectionately as “Grandpa.” “We’re a big family here and we don't just think of Joe as a coworker, we think of him as family. He’s a mentor we respect.” Over the last eight years, Joe has spent a good portion of his time on the road, training new and younger crews on the ins and outs of the SPF industry. Jeremiah estimates, “Joe was on the road every week, every month for eight years. That’s at least a thousand people that he’s trained.”

During his well-deserved retirement, Joe plans on spending quality time in San Antonio with his lovely wife, Juana. He will also spend more time with his five children and 10 grandchildren. A big soccer and auto racing fan, he will have time to watch his team, the Dallas Cowboys, and cheer on the drivers of F1 & Indy.

The entire SWD team thanks Joe for his mentorship and service to the spray foam industry, and most importantly the friendship and leadership shared.

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