St. Marys native Bill Parana is a busy man. Now living in the northwestern mountain area of Hendersonville, N.C., he holds down both a full-time and a part-time job and finds them both interesting, especially as they are quite different from each other.
Parana works full-time as a plastic ceramic/injection mold technician at Kyocera Industrial Ceramics in Mt. Home, N.C., a Japanese-based company with factories all over the world and a leader in the production of fine ceramics whose products include ceramic knives, cellphones, solar panels and components for the cutting tool and drilling industry.
“I had never seen a plastic injection press before I took the job. I give [St. Marys-based company] Keystone Powder Metal all the credit for my understanding of machines as a die setter, which helped for an easier transition from powder metal to plastic/ceramic molding,” Parana said.
He explained that some ceramic parts are injected into the mold, after which the mold is disassembled and then each part reassembled to prepare for the next injection.
“I enjoy the engineering and mold building that goes into these complex parts,” Parana said. “There are challenges that come with each part produced and troubleshooting and past experience helps through these areas.
“I also am involved in making the different blends of material used at the factory with very stringent requirements to assure quality. The process starts as a thick wet slurry and ends with a fine dry powder, with shrinkage being a control factor.” For the past five years, Parana has also been a part-time employee of the Biltmore Estate, an 8,000-acre national historic landmark in Asheville, N.C. that was once the home of businessman and philanthropist George W. Vanderbilt. Parana is a food runner/server on the weekends and works at the Lioncrest Banquet Center, which entertains large weddings and dinners throughout the year.
“One aspect I enjoy is meeting and working with people from home and abroad. There is such a variety of nationalities, cultures and languages. I enjoy this immensely, being from our small town,” Parana said. “Together (with the other employees), our goal at the banquet center is to provide a lifetime memorable experience to each guest that arrives at an event. We do this with a great team of management and staff. We take great pride in paying attention to the smallest detail and giving utmost guest satisfaction."
He said in addition to being a good place to work, the Biltmore also offers many recreational opportunities.
“Aside from working there, I find the estate to be a fascinating place to walk, bike, ride, canoe, fish and explore,” Parana said. ”There is so much history to unveil and the photographic opportunities are endless.
"I constantly gather information from current tour guides to pass on to visitors who I talk to and direct to highlights on the estate. My goal after I leave my factory life is to become a tour guide or one of the many positions that cater to the estate’s guests.” Parana is the son of Helen Auman Parana and the late Andrew Parana. He is married to Susan Krieg Parana and has a brother, Michael (Betsy), of Shade Gap, Pa.; three sisters, Kfaaron of Pittsburgh, Mary (Kevin) Pettrochi of St Marys, and Julie (Craig) Corsi of Erie; a stepdaughter, Stephanie Bunn Riggbsy (Matt, son Alex); and two daughters, Leah of Binghamton, N.Y., and Alison (Nick) Keeler of Littleton, N.H. The 1976 graduate of St. Marys Area High School attended The Pennsylvania State University through the Community Education Council of Elk and Cameron Counties.
“I did not finish, but learned a tremendous amount about myself,” Parana said of his college experience.
Parana also credited one of his high school teachers, Andy Timm, with influencing him during his education. “I admired his dedication to his students, community and family,” Parana said. He said he and his wife enjoy living in Hendersonville for the variety of activities it offers.
"It has a bustling downtown area with shops, restaurants and a great farmers market and is a half-hour or so from several natural attractions. There are breathtaking scenic views along the Blue Ridge Parkway and other locations in the area," Parana said.
He said Henderson County produces 85 percent of the apple crop in North Carolina, along with many other fruits and vegetables, and that he enjoys vegetable gardening through the long growing season, which runs from April to late October.
"The climate is great with very little snow and humidity," Parana said. "My wife and I enjoy exploring the state along with our dog, Max, and meeting interesting people wherever we go."
Although they go a lot of places, the Paranas still enjoy returning to St. Marys. Parana said he plans his visits to coordinate with an event that is very special to him. "I make it back to St. Marys around the time of the Lee Foster Memorial 5K race, for which I was the race director for five years. I really enjoyed this event with all of the town's and race staff's support," Parana said. "I have great memories of running, biking, hunting, working, enjoying the fall colors and traveling through PA."
Parana said his work at the Biltmore has brought him into contact with other people from St. Marys upon occasion, and he hopes to see more people from his hometown in his new neck of the woods.
“I have met two people at a function from St. Marys and am always looking to find others,” Parana said. "I encourage my family and friends back in PA to come and enjoy some time well-spent here in North Carolina. Like myself, you may come for a visit and end up staying for a lifetime."