American Legion honors Waconia Manufacturing, Inc.

Department American Legion Commander Mike Ash and Department Chairman Dave Heidebrink for Employment stand with Jack Thurk, former Vice President of Operations for Waconia Manufacturing, Inc., during the awards ceremony in July. (Submitted photo)

Department American Legion Commander Mike Ash and Department Chairman Dave Heidebrink for Employment stand with Jack Thurk, former Vice President of Operations for Waconia Manufacturing, Inc., during the awards ceremony in July. (Submitted photo)

Waconia Manufacturing, Inc., which operates in Waconia and recently opened a new facility in Norwood Young America, was recently honored at the state level by the American Legion for its commitment to the employment of veterans. The business received one of three statewide 2014 Employer of Veterans Awards.

The awards are based on an employer’s size and Waconia Manufacturing, Inc. (WMI) won the honor in the medium sized company category (51-200 employees). The other categories are small company (50 or fewer employees) and large company (201+ employees). All three winners are eligible for similar national awards.

The Employer of Veterans Award program was created in 1969 and is governed by the National Economic Commission, which is responsible for ensuring that U.S. veterans have the opportunity to provide, with honor and dignity, the economic necessities of life for themselves and their families.

According to Rosemary Niesen, the Adjutant of the Waconia American Legion Post 150, several local businesses were approached and asked to submit a resume regarding their business for the award.

Criteria for the award include that at least 10 percent of the employer’s workforce must be veterans, the employer must have been in business for at least five years, the employer cannot restrict employment to veterans only, and the nominee must be a private sector employer (not a city, state or federal employer).

“I received a big, warm, enthusiastic response from Jack Thurk (the former Vice President of Operations at WMI),” Niesen said. “He completed the form and sent it on to the American Legion, Department of Minnesota. I’m so pleased that Waconia Manufacturing was declared the winner of this outstanding award.”

At the American Legion State Convention held in Rochester on July 18, Thurk and Brian Mumford, Operations Manager at WMI, represented the business and accepted a plaque in honor of the award from David Heidebrink, Employment Chairman of the Minnesota American Legion Department.

“Congratulations to Waconia Manufacturing, Inc., and all its employees,” Niesen said. “This award is presented every year to a deserving employer, whether it be small, medium, or large. So in the year 2014-15, we could be seeing another award to a Waconia employer. Rest assured that if your business can and does employ veterans, we will see that they are (up for) this prestigious award. Let’s go for a American Legion National Award in Waconia.”

The award is meaningful to WMI and to Thurk and Mumford, who are both veterans themselves (Thurk served in the Vietnam War and Mumford is an Iraq War veteran).

“The award reflects the values of WMI’s employee-owners: a commitment to excellence,” Mumford said. “Throughout the history of Waconia Manufacturing, Inc., the contributions of military veterans have ranged from welder to owner. These contributions helped WMI become an employee-owned company that is able to sell, design, manufacture, assemble, and install quality fertilizer blending and handling equipment.”

Mumford said veterans are an important part of the workforce at WMI.

“WMI’s employee-owners are committed to quality, timeliness, and proficiency,” he said. “When veterans are hired at WMI, they usually assimilate into the company’s culture seamlessly. This quickly establishes cohesiveness among employee-owners and enables the company to provide customers with the products they need.

“WMI is honored to have been nominated and selected for this award. WMI has great appreciation for how the American Legion’s advocacy has helped our veterans,” Mumford said.

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