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  September 20, 2004

Metal Fabricator One Of A Kind

Peter Bagdigian helps make the Health Center tick. A metal fabricator, he is like a cog that allows other cogs to function smoothly. When something isn't working quite right, Bagdigian takes the concept and invents a tool to fix the problem, enabling medical and administrative staff to get their jobs done.

Image: Peter Bagdigian

Peter Bagdigian, a metal fabricator, repairs a door in the fabrication shop at the Health Center. His job imvolves inventing tools that can't be bought elsewhere, fixing problems and enabling other staff to get their jobs done.
Photo by Peter Morenus

"He's one of a kind," says Daniel Penney, associate vice president for facilities management at the Health Center. "If we can't buy it, Peter can make it and he'll make it work."

Surrounded by tools of the trade - welders, grinders, lathes, tools, industrial vacuums, hoods, and tons of bars, rods, and sheet metal - in the Health Center's basement, Bagdigian feels at home. "I like it here," he says. "You never do the same thing twice. Something's always changing, something's always challenging you."

Bagdigian welds, burnishes, and burns; he buffs, grinds, solders, and bends.

He recently created a metal tower so that emergency personnel can safely raise and lower a heavy neonatal transport crib on their own. He has manufactured custom racks so the information technology department can install servers in electrical risers in the hospital main lobby. He created a tower to organize and hold equipment in the back of an ambulance. He's made holders for the signs that wards use to direct patients where they need to go, and grilles that artfully complement the skylights, but safely keep children from falling through.

"I've made a lot of stuff," he says. "I always like to help. I enjoy it."

His efforts are appreciated.

"Pete is a great resource," Noyes said. "It has always been a pleasure working with him as the need arises - he's friendly, resourceful and technically outstanding."

When Bagdigian, who joined the Health Center in 1986, took the early retirement incentive last year, he couldn't be spared. Within days he received a call asking him to come back, and just nine days after retiring, he was back on the job on a part-time basis.

Bagdigian grew up on a dairy farm in Farmington, just a couple of thousand yards - as the crow flies - from where he now works. But it's been a long journey in terms of his experiences.

He's been a farmer, a radioman in the Navy, an ice cream vendor, real estate salesman, small engine repairman, and a boiler- and pump-maker in a Bloomfield factory. He's also been a stock car designer, builder, and driver. That's where he learned welding and metal fabrication.

Penney says Bagdigian's services are in high demand. "Every time Peter's asked to make something, he responds," says Penney. "Metal fabrication is nearly a lost art, but Peter keeps that art alive at the Health Center."