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For 60 years, striking the right chord at Allen Organ

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PHOTO/RANDALL P. BJORKEN
Sandy Fischl with Steven A. Markowitz, president of Allen Organ Co. Fischl trained Markowitz when he began at Allen.
PHOTO/RANDALL P. BJORKEN Sandy Fischl with Steven A. Markowitz, president of Allen Organ Co. Fischl trained Markowitz when he began at Allen.

From stops and ranks, bass pedals to handcrafted cabinets, consoles and electronic components, it takes a lot of hands to craft an organ made at Allen Organ Co.

From stops and ranks, bass pedals to handcrafted cabinets, consoles and electronic components, it takes a lot of hands to craft an organ made at Allen Organ Co.

And Sandy Fischl has been doing it for six decades at the Macungie company.

The electronic and digital organ manufacturer will celebrate Fischl’s milestone 60-year employment anniversary on June 8, where her work has been a labor of love.

“Sandy is committed to our product,” said Allen president Steven A. Markowitz, son of Jerome Markowitz, who founded the company in 1945.

Fischl, 76, started at Allen in 1957 when she was 16.

“My grandparents, [who] I lived with, said it was time I got a job,” she said.

NO PLANS TO RETIRE

Little did Fischl know when she applied for that job that she’d found her calling, would meet her future husband and remain an Allen Organ employee.

She is, in fact, the first employee at Allen to hit the 60-year mark, according to the company. Four other employees have reached 50 years.

Fischl has no plans to retire. She continues to enjoy her work and said she can’t imagine her daily life any other way.

“Employee longevity ensures quality,” said Grant L.K. Hess, Fischl’s supervisor. “When you have employees for 30, 40 or more years, they are better able to understand the industry. Sandy’s commitment to the product is long term.”

TRAINING THE FUTURE BOSS

An assembler, Fischl has worked in the same department at Allen, her skills advancing as technology has improved.

While the parts and components have changed over the past six decades, Fischl’s job largely remains the same.

“The components are smaller now,” and may do different things, Hess said.

Fischl also has helped with training, even coaching Markowitz when he joined the company.

“Mr. [Jerome] Markowitz brought his two sons to work here, and I had the honor of teaching Steve,” Fischl said.

EMPLOYEES ENSURE QUALITY

Organ building includes the design, building, installation and servicing of organs.

Steven Markowitz credits Fischl and other longtime Allen employees for the firm’s high product quality, continuity and continued success in a niche market serving a broad range of customers, from novice beginners to professional organists and church musicians.

Currently, two organs are being custom built for a client in China, Markowitz said.

“For my father, it was all about sound,” he said. “The richness, the tone, the things you have with a pipe organ, he wanted to create that with electronics. We’ve always been an electronic organ company.”

ADAPTING TO CHANGE

Today’s technology allows Allen to create more refined instruments, build components for other makers’ products and create mixed pipe/electronic hybrid organs.

“Technology has gotten to the point now where we can integrate [pipe and electronic organs] to create a cohesive musical sound,” Markowitz said.

“Sandy has seen tremendous change.”

‘AN HONOR’

Markowitz said while his father played the organ, Allen employees possess an art and craft skill set much different from those who learn, practice and perform on custom-built instruments.

From small home organs to concert hall models, and despite industry changes and technology, Fischl took product innovation and industry changes in stride. She swells with pride when she talks about her work.

“It’s been an honor working here, and I’ve loved every minute of it,” Fischl said.

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