How long could you stay at the same job?

It's a milestone few people ever reach - but one local man was honoured Friday for marking 50 years at the same company.

It was 1963 when 22-year-old Marshall Topilko first began working for Diamond International Trucks Ltd.

He still remembers the day he was hired.

“I got hired on a Wednesday,” Topilko says.

“I said I can’t start on a Wednesday, can you wait till Monday, I have to find a place to stay somewhere, and they said, ‘okay, we’ll wait.’”

Five decades ago, Topilko was making $1.65 an hour. Over time, his paycheck grew and so did his love for the company – so much so that he stayed on for 50 years.

“Everybody asks me how old I am and they couldn’t believe it,” Topilko said.

On Friday, the company threw the 72-year-old a surprise 50th anniversary celebration – declaring May 10 Marshall Topilko Day.

“I was just shocked,” Topilko said. “I walked in and I wondered, ‘what’s this?’ I couldn’t believe all of the people who came here.”

Topilko has done it all with the company, from being a mechanic to a shop foreman to a shuttle driver.

And after five decades, his passion for the job hasn’t faded and he continues to pass on his knowledge to others.

“Today I taught three salesmen how to drive a truck,” Topilko said.

“They didn’t know how an 18-speed transmission worked, really.”

Topilko’s former foreman, Ross Patchell, says you could always count on Topilko to get the job done.

“It didn’t matter what kind of job you give him, he was able to do it,” Patchell said.

“He was very reliable, did all kinds of work, tune-ups, you name it, he could do it.”

A younger generation of workers now looks up to the seasoned veteran.

“He’s got a lot of experience. 50 years is a long time so any knowledge he has and is willing to pass along to me is really beneficial,” said apprentice Gavin Clark.

“I think it’s important to stay at one place for a long time.”

Don Macadam, the company’s president, says they wanted to celebrate Topilko’s milestone, loyalty and all that he’s brought to the business.

“There’s a special aura about him that depicts our company and so we want to really appreciate that today,” he said.

“Over the years he’s just been a very special guy.”

On Friday, there were hugs, laughter, applause and what would a celebration be without gifts?

Topilko was presented with a framed 50th anniversary picture, with congratulations signed by friends and co-workers, a bouquet of flowers and most jaw-dropping of all, a 1970 International Travelall.

“I think it’s going to be a Sunday afternoon car,” Topilko said with a laugh.

Fifty years later, Topilko knows this milestone is rare but says he has no plans for retirement any time soon.

“I know other people who retired early and it comes to the point where they just don’t go anywhere, they just stay at home,” he said.

“I talk to other guys who have retired, they say the same thing, they should have kept on doing something in their life.”

With files from Erin Isfeld