By Aidan Graham, Edinboro University Student
It’s 6 a.m. on Thursday morning. You pass Grove City Memorial Park and look over to see a group of 10 men doing pull-ups, sit-ups, and jumping over park benches. This is one branch of a nationwide network of free, peer-led workouts for men called F3 (Fitness, Faith and Fellowship).
The founders were the only two members for the starting months; one of those men was Dan Kulp. He helped start the group in Grove City when he caught wind of programs like this in other cities, and he has been involved in church volunteering his whole life. This influenced him to start a branch in his town to share in fellowship, prayer and fitness, intending to include positive role models in the community.
A tight knit community is something Kulp was familiar with. He grew up in Mt. Joy in central Pennsylvania, and graduated from Donegal High School with a class of about 150 students. He went to school with his older brother. “He was the sport star of the family. I just always did well in school,” Kulp added.
That’s not to say he wasn’t active. He played soccer and even tried to pole vault once, saying with a laugh, “I just didn’t have the frame for it.” His academics earned him scholarships to attend the University of Pittsburgh.
While in school, Kulp met his two loves. He fell in love with ultimate frisbee and played in leagues that took him all over, even after his college years. He also met his wife, Becky, freshman year in a Christian faith group, and they’ve been together ever since.
Both he and his wife graduated with degrees in engineering, Kulp took a co-op position at U.S. Airways in Pittsburgh, where he began his career in manufacturing. From there, an opportunity came from a now defunct airline, TWA in Kansas City, Missouri.
“It was a great opportunity for a young engineer. Lots of travel, exciting, and making big things happen,” he said. “We originally thought we’d be there for five years.”
But after one year, Kulp ran into a familiar face at a training conference in Seattle. He was a former manager from U.S. Airways in Pittsburgh, and he had a position open that led Kulp and his wife back to Pennsylvania.
A combination of 9/11 causing layoffs and an opportunity in a startup company, led Kulp to resign from U.S. Airways and move out of the city.
In 2004 things changed, “I became a stay at home dad.” Kulp took time off understanding what it would do to the progress in his career. His family was more important, and his wife was able to support them at the time.
Medical problems then made it tough for the couple. Little bruises were found on their newborn daughter that appeared out of nowhere. When their son was born, a year later, doctors quickly realized he had a low platelet count that had to be monitored and required immediate treatment. The condition is known as Neonatal Alloimmune Thrombocytopenia (NAIT). For comparison purpose, a normal platelet count for infants is between 150,000 and 300,000. His son was born with only around 20,000 platelets which means his blood doesn’t clot properly.
In the meantime, Kulp sold cars for three months before he accepted an entry level Engineer position at a company in Grove City that is no longer in the town. He said it was a step in the right direction toward getting back into the engineering field.
With expecting their third child extensive treatments were needed to manage NAIT during the pregnancy. Kulp had been working as a Design Engineer in Elwood City; a 35-minute commute one way. The Grove City community proved to be a family away from home for the Kulp Family.
“It was crazy,” Kulp said, “I’ve never seen a town come to help so quickly. I would come home from work and different members of the community would be there on treatment days with full meals. They took care of everything.” The community stepped in with childcare and meals at a time when it was really needed. Fast forward to 2018: Kulp applies for a position back in Grove City at Pine Electronics Inc. Later he finds out that his friend and colleague, Brian Montgomery, applied for the same position.
“We both learned about competing for the same job at Pine at his family Labor Day Picnic,” said Montgomery. “Dan said his interview was the following Tuesday. My interview was on Thursday!” Both men had no clue what would happen, but Montgomery said: “After our interviews, we realized why Pine was continuing to interview. They were splitting up the two facilities that were previously under a single manager, creating a manufacturing manager position for each one. I think they hired us since we were both good local candidates and had worked successfully with each other in the past.”
Since accepting the position at Pine in October 2018, Kulp has stopped accepting calls from recruiters. He has come to love the area including the weather and places in the community like the Guthrie Theatre. It’s an old-time theater that was closed but reopened in the community serving as a venue for local films, shows, and musicians.
As a manufacturing manager at Pine Electronics, Kulp oversees the building of their products, including the G2 Gyratory Compactor. He says it is the “Cadillac version” of other products that test asphalts, and its user-friendly interface makes it a nationally sold product that comes right out of NWPA. Pine test equipment is the plant he manages, and his duties are to oversee the products from design to production test the equipment and optimize the work environment when he can.
Kulp lives 0.9 miles away from work and he couldn’t be more grateful for the people he works with and community he lives in, Grove City. He encourages other engineers and manufacturing workers to consider NWPA as a great place to live, work, and interact with an open-arms community.
Kulp has shared his love of frisbee with his children and even helped design Grove City’s first disc golf course. It’s his way of sharing something he loves with the people he cares about. He continues to lead the F3 group every Thursday morning at 6 a.m. to connect with members of the community in an active and positive way.