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Longest Tenured Employee in Honeywell History Retires

Longest Tenured Employee in Honeywell History Retires

It’s been 68 years since Orlean Kovach walked through the doors at the Honeywell Aerospace site in Minneapolis. During her time at Honeywell Orlean has seen lots of changes - both at the company and in the world around her. But now, it’s time for her to start the next chapter of her life. She’s retiring at the end of August.

So how does someone who has been part of Honeywell’s history plan to spend her retirement?

“I intend to sleep in! No more 3:45 a.m. alarms” said Orlean. “Instead of making Ring Laser Gyro (RLG) mirrors, I plan to do some different projects. I am a crafter and my supply stash looks like a fabric store. I’m setting my sights on volunteering and getting more involved in church activities, too. I will still be busy – just a different kind of busy.”

Orlean’s first Honeywell job was in the library, but after 25 years she had gone as far as she could without a librarian’s degree. With the encouragement of a coworker who thought she’d enjoy working in the Honeywell lab, Orlean went back to school where she earned an associate’s degree and later attended night school for a bachelor’s degree in business communications.

After becoming a technician, Orlean worked in the laser mirror facility for the RLG. “During the engineering stage, I made the first perfect, zero-defect mirror,” she said. “It was five seconds of glory, then they wanted me to repeat it."

During her career, Orlean celebrated the first RLG mirror to go into production as well as the 100,000th. In fact, she has worked on enough RLG mirrors to stack them halfway around the world.

Additionally, Orlean has had a front seat to countless Honeywell milestones including the first commercial RLG program for Boeing’s 757 and 767 aircraft and delivery of the first Advanced Tactical Guidance System to the U.S. Navy. One of her fondest memories over the last six decades at Honeywell includes being part of the space race.

“Witnessing the Apollo mission was a very exciting time in my life - and in my career,” said Orlean. “When a man landed on the moon for the first time it was exhilarating. Who would have even dreamed that was possible? The fact that Honeywell had a big part in that monumental success was awe-inspiring. It was a moment to be proud of our accomplishments as a company.”

As her time at Honeywell draws to a close, Orlean has some words of wisdom to share with future generations of Honeywell employees, “Always give every project your best and when you make mistakes admit it. You will be respected for your honesty.

She also encourages the new generation of Futureshapers to, “Embrace change – there will be a lot of it. But if you can adapt, you will be a valuable asset to the team. Don’t forget to enjoy the journey. Sure, there will be some bumps in the road, but in the end, try to have fun in everything you do. That’s what kept me coming back to Honeywell year after year.”

Maggie Olney
Director, Customer Marketing

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