Ed Saul wakes up each morning, puts on a pot of coffee and lets out his dog.
From his Carroll County home, he then logs onto a system that tracks every stage of production, down to the minute, at the Domino Sugar refinery nearly 30 miles away in Baltimore.
The 72-year-old distribution manager is retiring this year after more than a half-century on the job. He doesn’t know what he’ll do when he’s not troubleshooting delivery issues and making sure there’s enough — but not too much — sugar moving into and out of the Key Highway refinery.
“I’ve never been bored,” Saul said. “I don’t know what boredom means.”
Much has changed in the 52 years since Saul took a $70-per-week job at the refinery around the corner from his childhood home in Locust Point.
He turned to a monitor showing the plant’s operations one day last month: It was making 160 gallons of liquid sucrose a minute.
Knowing that translates to roughly 3.5 truckloads an hour, Saul can decide whether the company can send an oft-requested extra load to Hershey.
Saul gets 500 to 600 emails a day, many of them containing similar order changes and other logistics requests. He has to be reachable round-the-clock for the 24-hour plant. Being able to access such detailed information via technology has made his job far more efficient.
“I can make a decision in 30 seconds that years ago took maybe two or three hours,” he said.
Saul has worked a series of jobs at the plant, including production foreman, which he said was “really helpful” in preparing him to run distribution.
“I’d better understand all the issues they have and the equipment, how it works, and the processes,” he said.
Saul recalls that even when he was just starting, he was impressed with the level of camaraderie at the plant, which had several people celebrating 30 or 40 years back then.
“There’s a reason that happens,” he said. “Companies don’t just have long-term employees, especially in today’s society where everyone comes and goes in three or four years.”
“There’s a sense of family here,” he said. “I’m not saying we’re always functional, but there is.”
So what’s next in retirement? Saul says he might try out his pool, which he hardly ever gets in.
His doctor has nixed sugar from his diet. It’s hard for him to imagine doing the same with the company.
“Maybe there'll be life after sugar,” he said.
Job: Domino Sugars distribution manager
Born: Locust Point, Baltimore
Lives: Finksburg, Carroll County
Education: Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, class of 1963; took classes at Towson University; University of Baltimore; Community College of Baltimore County, Catonsville
Family: Wife, Lisa; children, Renee, Eddie, Angela, Erin; stepdaughter, Jessie
Hobbies: Watching basketball, playing cards, fantasy football