Harold Kosola, 75, owner of Kosola and Associates Inc., stays ready to go anywhere in the world quickly. He keeps a suitcase packed, he said.
“On the Job With ...” is a weekly feature of Sunday Inc. Today’s segment is with Harold Kosola, an aeronautical engineer and owner of Kosola and Associates of Albany.
Q. If you were fresh out of school, what would you do first in searching for a job?
A. Well, of course I’d get a bunch of names and addresses of people I wanted to work for. I’d just go to them one at a time and try to make a good impression.
Q. What was your first job?
A. My very first job was in junior high school. It was part-time at Daniels Department Store in Coral Gables, Fla. I was sweeping floors and working as a stock boy. Part of my job was to mark up the stock according to a set percentage. I think I was about 13 or 14 years old. My first really serious job was with Aerodex when I got out of high school. I had an uncle who knew I was interested in airplanes. He found me a job with Aerodex, a company that overhauled radial aircraft engines. The first thing they had me doing was looking for cracks in the metal. I was there about four years.
Q. What was the first thing you bought when you got your first paycheck?
A. I expect it was an ice cream cone, or maybe a comic book. My favorites were Superman and Dick Tracy.
Q. Who was your role model or mentor in your current job?
A. My uncle Gaston Don Davis from Vidalia. He’s the one who got me the job at Aerodex. He was one of the first pilots to fly for Eastern. He worked for Eddie Richenbacker.
Q. How has the recession impacted your business?
A. It hasn’t, really. Maybe a little, but not much at all. I’ve been lucky that way. We do engineering work all over the world as well as for local companies like Thrush and Maule Aircraft in Moultrie. Maybe that has something to do with it. I don’t know.
Q. If you could turn back the clock on one aspect of technology (email, Internet, cell phones, etc.) what would it be?
A. Oh, I don’t like the Internet and cell phones and all that. They’re good for a quick answer, but that’s just about it. I take a cell phone with me in the car in case I really need it. I had to use it once in Utah four or five years ago when I ran off an icy road — twice. The last time it was a tree that stopped me from going all the way down the mountain. It was a drop of about 1,000 feet.
Q. I am up and going by ...?
A. I’m up by 6:15 automatically, no matter what I have to do. I wait for the bride to make me breakfast and then I read the news. I’m in to the office by 10:30 or so. Sometimes I stay late, and sometimes I’m there all weekend. I used to come in real early and stay late every day, but I’ve been cutting back on my hours these days.
Q. Favorite hobby or activity outside of work?
A. I like to drive long distances and see the countryside. I had a hobby for a while, which was collecting and working on Nash Metros. It turned into a business real quick. People heard that I had some extra parts and it started from there. We work on them here and sell parts all over the world. They haven’t made Metros since 1960, but we have 37 of them here right now.
Q. If you could take back one business decision in your career, what would it be?
A. Can’t think of a single thing. I sort of fell into the business and just kept on going.
Q. What’s the best thing about your job?
A. The freedom to do whatever I want. Anything I want to do, I do it.
Q. What’s the worst thing about your job?
A. There’s not much bad about it. I’m not crazy about being pressured to rush out to a job on short notice, but I still keep a suitcase packed and ready to go — toothbrush, clothes, everything.
Q. The most beneficial course you took in school?
A. It might have been the art courses I took in junior high school. I used to have somebody doing my advertising right here, but they left and now I do it. Of course, my engineering classes were necessary to the work. My hands-on experience in mechanics is invaluable.
Q. What would be your dream job?
A. The short answer to that is “I have it now.”
Q. Finish this: “On the first anniversary of my retirement I see myself ...”
A. I’m pretty much retired right now. I do as much as I want to do and not any more than that. I don’t ever want to retire completely. When you retire you die. It’s like a car. You have to use it and exercise it or it just falls apart.
Q. What is the one trait a business leader cannot be without.
A. Friends, I’d say. Some of my friends get me jobs all over the world. Certain friends can get you places. I help my friends, too.
Q. What do you see as Albany’s biggest economic challenge?
A. A little bit of everything, really. We need to clean up some of the slum neighborhoods and revitalize downtown. We’ve got to do something about crime, too.
Q. What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in your business over the past several years?
A. Nothing much has changed in my business. We still don’t use computers. I have a pencil with an eraser. I don’t use a GPS, either. I can read a road map. We should exercise our brains.
Q. What was the best vacation you ever took?
A. My wife and two daughters went to London in about 1982. I really enjoyed that. Another one was when we went through Oshkosh, Wis., and saw the big air show. We had a little Ford pickup truck with a top.
Q. Any parting words of wisdom?
A. Dream of what you want to do ... then do it.