Antal “Tony” Patt wears three layers for his head, five layers over his stomach and three layers for his feet, for his job.
He pulls on thick, heavy boots that peek out from the insulated one-piece suit of overalls.
The Las Vegas resident spends his workdays coming in and out of a freezer room, where he can see his breath.
He works in one of the coldest places in Las Vegas, where the temperature fluctuates between 15 degrees to 20 degrees below zero, stocking and restocking pallets of frozen treats.
But for Patt, 37, choosing between the Las Vegas summer or the subzero temperature is simple.
“When you come out for a break in the sun, you almost wanna run back in already,” he said.
Patt works at Anderson Dairy, a family-owned dairy company that’s been around since 1907. At one time, the grandfather, father and son of a family working at the local company, which employs 125 people.
The company is also a distributor for other brands, said Dave Coon, vice president of Anderson Dairy. The company carries Blue Bunny and Mars, among others, and distributes the frozen treats to other businesses. Patt’s job consists of stocking and retrieving pints and gallons of ice cream in the freezer room.
“A lot of people might think that’s a nice job to have in the summertime, but it’s very draining. You go from extreme hot to cold and vice versa,” Coon said. “It saps your energy.”
Coon, who’s been with the company for 42 years, spent some time working in the freezer at Anderson Dairy before working his way up to the vice president position, which he’s been in for close to 20 years.
Purchasing manager Gary Webb said the company’s small size allows for employees to work in different positions and move up. In his 37 years at Anderson Dairy, he also spent a few of them doing what Patt does now.
“It doesn’t matter how many times you go outside, it’s just cold,” he said.
When Webb worked in the freezer rooms, they hand stocked everything. On busy days, he would help break down pallets of ice cream delivered to the building.
“We’ve been doing this so long, it’s no big deal,” he said.
Patt’s spent most of his nine years there working in and out of the freezer room. He keeps his layers on when he takes lunch or 15-minute breaks because it helps him “thaw” quicker, he said. He munches on snacks and drinks water throughout the day, which helps him keep his energy up as he switches between extreme temperatures.
Ice-encrusted plastic flaps decorate the entrance to the warehouse freezer room after metal doors open.
Patt’s hair is hidden by a head wrap and a UNLV Rebels hat tucked under his marshmallow jacket’s hood. He leaves his face uncovered, in case he has to operate a forklift for the higher shelves.
Through large windows, tour groups of visitors can catch him travel down aisles of stacked boxes of frozen treats.
A lot of what he does is stocking and restocking pallets of different ice creams, he said. The hardest part is doing inventory, which he has to do about three times a week.
“You’re not moving around a lot — you’re just counting,” he said.
But the Marine veteran said he’s gotten used to the job and doesn’t mind the cold. He’s from Denver, after all.
Coon said he trusts the workers to know their limits when it comes to working in the freezer. There are three workers whose job it is to travel between the freezer and other parts of the building, but Patt works in there the most.
“He’s a great employee and does a wonderful job,” he said.
Patt knows he has to keep his arms and legs pumping to keep his muscles from stiffening. He’s conscious of the weather outside; if there’s humidity in the air, he’ll take care to avoid it. Carrying moisture into the subzero temperature room will make it harder to stay warm.
And most of all, he knows when his body begins reacting to the cold.
“When I start feeling it on my face, that’s when I know I should step out,” he said.
He spent the first couple of weeks of his job running in and out of the freezer, getting the job done in multiple trips. But he found that if he geared up and focused, he could get more done in less time.
His time inside the freezer and warming up outside is a balancing act. If he starts sweating, he’ll have to carry that back into the freezer with him, but he doesn’t want to stay in the freezer much longer when he feels it on his face.
But as long as he keeps moving, keeps busy, Patt stays warm.
“You’re in there all day by yourself, so you gotta keep focus on the job because then you get done quicker and then you get outta there quicker,” he said with a chuckle. “After a couple years, you get used to it.”
Contact Melissa Gomez at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 702-383-0278. Find @melissagomez004 on Twitter.