Angelo-Mary at 40th Anniversary

Angelo and Mary Mazzei celebrated the 40th anniversary of their company recently.  

Courtesy of the Mazzei family

Although you might not completely understand what the Mazzei Injector Co. does, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that Angelo and Mary Mazzei have friends. That they are loved and have contributed to the community in which they live.

People like a free lunch, a lunch catered by Rick Mossman, but 300 people may not be driving a half-hour down Highway 58 no matter how soft the soft rolls are and how tender the pit beef is unless they want to pay their respects.

Thursday, we went to the 40th anniversary of the Mazzei Injector Co., which included lunch. Angelo started 40 years ago in his garage and now has more than 20 patents and customers all over the world, the latest being the city of Tokyo and its water system.

The company, which includes his wife, Mary, daughter Celia (Mazzei) Cobar and more than 40 passionate and devoted employees, makes injectors. Angelo has explained this to me a million times, but he’s an engineer and I’m the opposite of an engineer.

Mazzei makes, amongst other things, a piece of equipment that injects oxygen into sprinkler systems (think farmers), allowing for that combination of air and water that's good for crops. The company also does a bunch of other stuff with cities, cleaning up wastewater and removing solids. Mazzei is a good homegrown company and a local success.

That these are nice people who are liked by their employees makes their success sweeter. When’s the last time you heard someone talk about the fun they’ve had in business? Some people can get grim-faced when talking about their business but Angelo looked like a 12-year-old boy who just had caught a frog when he talked about their company and thanked everyone for coming.

It takes more than a free lunch to do that.

•••

My clearest memory of Carl Benjamin, who died recently, is seeing him at the Bakersfield Racquet Club with his two cute young daughters — Vonnie and Cammie — in tow.

Carl, who taught math at BC for more than 40 years, was the ultimate tennis father, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. He played tennis and his girls were going to play too; he hit them semi-loads of tennis balls, one bucket at a time.

Cammie became a professional tennis player and eventually reached No. 27 in the world.

•••

An icemaker can be a temperamental piece of equipment. They don’t always make enough ice, especially when you have company over, or they quit two days after the warranty runs out.

I’ve never had this happen before — too much ice. The metal wand that controls whether the icemaker is on or off, broke and our icemaker has been running nonstop for weeks. I’ve got more ice than Bakersfield Cold Storage. I probably made eight pounds during the last two paragraphs.

Think the doughnut machine in “Homer Price,” which could not be shut off. You don’t think you can have too much ice, like you don’t think you can have too many doughnuts, but when machines don’t shut off, it’s Ice Mountain.

Herb Benham is a columnist for the Bakersfield Californian and can be reached at hbenham@bakersfield.com or 661-395-7279.

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