For Ron Ditzfeld and Fred Lefevers, the time they have spent together can best be described as golden.
Thursday afternoon a reception was hosted by Ditzfeld Transfer to recognize Lefevers’ 50 years of employment at the company but it was also an opportunity for two lifelong friends to share memories of their time together.
“There are not enough words to describe everything we have seen and done together in these past 50 years,” Ditzfeld said in his remarks at the reception. “He is totally a part of our family; he’s like a brother to me and I can honestly say he has never let me down.
“I doubt that they are many who would do as much as Frank has here,” Ditzfeld added. “Except for the two years we each spent in the Army we’ve pretty much been side by side ever since.”
Lefevers started working for the company in 1966, six years after Ditzfeld’s father bought the company in 1960.
“Ron’s dad hired me,” Lefevers said. “He came up to the came up to my house, walked up a flight of stairs and asked me if I wanted a job.”
Lefevers said he thought he was offered the job because Ditzfeld knew of his reputation as a driver for another firm and his ability not to quit on a job.
“There was one time I was driving and my truck broke down,” Lefevers said. “I got out and drug the freight where it needed to go so it arrived on time. I think that impressed John and that’s why he hired me.”
Ron Ditzfeld said his father always thought of Lefevers as his right hand.
A trait that is the same for Ron Ditzfeld.
“He knows what I’m thinking before I open my mouth,” Ditzfeld said. “We’ve been by side by side for so long and he is just a phenomenal employee. I really don’t think he has taken a sick day in his entire life.
“I don’t think there is a thing at this company that he hasn’t done or can’t do,” Ditzfeld added. “He may have made a few mistakes along the way but we all have — in fact my dad used to say that if you aren’t making any mistakes then you aren’t doing a damn thing.”
One mistake the two men both shared involved a missing truck.
“Frank was driving an old clamp truck to Columbia that was loaded with newsprint,” Ditzfeld said. “It was supposed to be unloaded at the (Columbia News-Tribune) there.
“Well, he parked the truck because he needed to get another piece of equipment to unload the truck and when he got back with it, the truck with the newsprint was missing,” Ditzfeld added.
Lefevers picked up the story from there.
“I guess the truck slipped out of gear because when I found it, it had rolled across the street and had gone through the front of G&D Steakhouse, right through their front window,” Lefevers said with a smile. “No one was hurt or anything but I guess a customer saw what was happening and got out to move his car so it didn’t get hit.”
Ditzfeld and Lefevers started out using a pickup truck to move furniture for Montgomery Ward’s in Sedalia before accepting more responsibility at the company.
In 1980, the two started to drive cross-country routes.
Ditzfeld estimated that they would average of 150,000 miles each year.
“We put a lot of miles on in the 15 years we drove together,” Ditzfeld said. “When you add it all up it’s well over 2 million miles.
“When we were younger I think a lot of the time we always tried to see who could outdo the other,” Ditzfeld added fondly. “I’m not sure why we did but I think we’ve out grown that by now.”
For Lefevers, the kindness of the Ditzfeld family is something he cannot repay.
“Years ago, my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer,” Lefevers said. “He lived in the state of California at the time but every time there was a trip scheduled to California they let me take that route so I could see him.
“You don’t forget things like that,” he added softly.
Lefevers no longer makes many cross-country trips; instead, he works as a mechanic for the company.
He has no plans to retire, but said he is going to slow down a little in the near future.
“I think I’m going to start to go to four days a week,” Lefevers said. “I have a farm so I have plenty to do.
“I’m just not in any hurry to do it and besides, I can’t leave,” Lefevers added looking at Ditzfeld. “He’d miss me too much.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484