NESQUEHONING -- In a matter of days, hundreds of workers building firetrucks in Nesquehoning will no longer be doing that for the Kovatch family. They'll work for a new company after several generations of Kovatches built the company into a major manufacturer.
"There's an extreme amount of pride, not only from our family, but when you say our family, our family stretches out to approximately 900 employees," said president and CEO John Kovatch III.
Kovatch is proud of where his company is going.
A Florida-based vehicle production company called the REV Group is buying Kovatch Mobile Equipment.
"If you gave me a blank piece of paper and said what could be the best thing that could happen to the KME product and the communities that we draw in and serve, I'd say I couldn't even imagine a better situation than we have here," said Kovatch.
The REV Group says it will maintain KME's headquarters and production in Nesquehoning.
Kovatch says it has the capital to expand production and add employees.
"It had to be a little tough decision, but when you looked at it and said these are the benefits, it's the benefits we're bringing for 900 employees and their families."
Kovatch says the backlog for orders on these trucks is 15 months. He expects the REV Group to come in here and improve the facilities so more can be made.
"The presentation they put on yesterday was fantastic," said Kovatch worker Bob Kuzma. "I feel very comfortable that we'll move forward. We'll increase jobs and we'll still be gaming."
But Kuzma, a longtime employee, couldn't help but tear up, thinking about the end of an era.
"It's sad the family's not going to be part of it, but we have to move forward."
"It was truly a family business," said John Kovatch IV. "Even on the weekends the family got together, we'd talk about the business."
And he said as fire trucks continue rolling off the line, he and some other Kovatches will still be working there.
"I think it will keep the family feel here because the family will still be here."
"Working here since 1982, I've gotten to know the Kovatch family very well and all the people that work here and I'm look forward to that continuing, but in a different capacity," said worker Jack Terefinko.
John Kovatch III, the president of the company, will step down but continue advising the REV Group.
KME will continue to have its own name and brand under REV Group ownership, similar to what the REV Group has done with other companies.
The deal could close within the next week.