USG gets social

 

June 9, 2023

Jana Peterson

Laura Bakken, raw materials specialist and event planner for the USG mill in Cloquet, hands out frozen treats during Tuesday evening's ice cream social at Dunlap Island. USG hosted the free community event to celebrate the plant's 100th anniversary in Cloquet's West End.

People of all ages turned out for the USG ice cream social Tuesday, in honor of the local mill's 100th anniversary in Cloquet. There were plenty of young ones eager for frozen treats, face painting or balloon creations. Others waited their turn to spin the wheel for prizes, which included water bottles, sunglasses, flashlights and USG T-shirts. There were even jobs to be discussed.

And then there was Ben Anderson, a dapper 92-year-old wearing a red flat cap and swapping stories with current

employees.

Anderson started his career at USG in September of 1948 when he was 18 years old, and worked there 45 years. He retired 30 years ago, but pulled out his USG belt buckle for the festivities Tuesday.

Anderson started out in the finishing department but then got a salaried position in safety. He said he barely recognizes the plant inside these days.

"There's been so many changes, for the better," he said.

When USG purchased the plant from Conwed in 1985, Anderson said the plant shut down and all the employees had to reapply for jobs.

Jana Peterson

Ben Anderson spent 45 years at the plant, working for Wood Conversion, Conwed and then USG.

"I felt proud I was the first employee hired, the same day they took over," he said. "I think because I was in safety and the keeper of the keys, so to speak, they hired me the same day."

He raised a family while he worked at the mill, and still appreciates what the company brings to Cloquet.

"It's very important," he said. "Way back, it seemed to me that the plant was kind of going down, and then USG came in. It's been going uphill ever since. I think the biggest thing that happened was their attitude toward safety, so much greater."

Current USG plant manager Jenna Leger couldn't agree more.

"Safety exists at a higher level than anything else that we do," Leger said in a recent Pine Knot interview. "It is the No. 1 most important thing to me and to all employees in this plant."

 
 

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