Celebrating Retirement

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average employee tenure is generally higher among older workers, aged 55-64, than younger workers. And the average number of years that wage and salary workers stay with their current employer is only 4.2 years (Employee Tenure Summary, 2016). Yes, less than five years! After reading these surprisingly low statistics, I took a moment to reflect back on some of the employees at FG – primarily two men who have recently retired. It’s rare to find employees who stay with only one company their entire lives. Fortunately, we have had quite a few people like that here at FG.

Don LaPoint was a dedicated employee to FG for 45 years. He started out at our Campia location at just 21 years old. In October of 1993, when FG relocated to Rice Lake, Don spent the next 23 years of his career working in our Re-Flex department where he worked on our Re-Flex Bulkheads.

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Pictured left to right: Chad Nelson, Vice President, Don LaPoint, Retiree, and Matt Nelson, Vice President taken in July 2016

Like Don, Joe Haines was another loyal FG employee from the Campia plant. Joe worked in our Parts Department and dedicated 34 years to FG. It’s really quite amazing when you find people who stay with a company for such a large part of their lives. They become much more than coworkers – they are your family and friends. Congratulations on your retirements, Don and Joe – you’ll be greatly missed!

joePictured: Joe Haines at his retirement party in October 2016

To learn more about FG Products Inc. visit our website at www.fgproducts.com or follow us on LinkedIn!

 

 

References:

“Employee Tenure Summary.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 22 Sept. 2016, http://www.bls.gov/news.release/tenure.nr0.htm.

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Central American Cold Chain

As many of you are planning to do some holiday travel, I thought this was a good time to share a family vacation of my own. Back in 2015 my family had the opportunity to vacation in the amazing country of Costa Rica; during which my family decided it was time to learn how to surf. Residing in Northwest Wisconsin we are able surf behind boats and on snow, but to actually surf the ocean had been a bucket list item. Any time we are traveling I am quick to point out refrigerated vehicles transporting perishables in many different ways. On this particular trip, we spent more time looking at the countryside and I noticed the work aspect less – I am sure my kids were happy about that.

After a very successful surfing lesson on the famous Tamarindo Beach, we were instructed to carry our boards back to the shop. I remember the pavement being so hot that I thought about carrying my kids across the street. Stopping for traffic would literally blister your feet if you weren’t hopping from one leg to the other. The air temperature was 104 Fahrenheit; I can’t imagine what the pavement temperature was.

As we waited outside the surf shop for our taxi, now wearing shoes, I noticed a refrigerated truck body truck body making deliveries to the surf town restaurants. The Hercules Truck Body belonged to Dos Pinos, a dairy brand popular in Costa Rica. Like anyone at my company, if you see a refrigerated vehicle, you have to see what’s inside. The rear door was left open as the driver made a delivery, so I rushed over to have a look and inside were ice cream treats and beverages. Sure enough, separating the body into 3 temperature zones were two Toughboy Insulated Bulkheads from FG Products, Inc. What a great way to see our products at work. And yes, we had ice cream!

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Google Maps estimates that it would take about 68 hours to drive from FG Products to Tamarindo Beach in Costa Rica.  The path is always less direct for our products, riding in LTL trucks to manufacturing facilities and dealers before final destinations.  The primary goal is an intact Cold Chain for the consumer.  The Toughboy model has been around since the 1960’s and remains the only portable, rigid (FRP) insulated bulkhead available in the America’s.

The anticipation and excitement I feel whenever I open the doors of a refrigerated vehicle is unique to those in our industry.  Knowing that our products play a role in distributing safe and fresh food to people around the world is humbling.  We are sometimes unaware of whom and where the final users of our products are, making this Costa Rican family vacation more memorable because of Dos Pinos, ice cream and surfing.  I just wanted to take the time to show my appreciation to all of our customers and wish everyone a Happy Holidays, safe travels and many thanks for your business this past year!

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To learn more about FG Products, Inc. visit our website at www.fgproducts.com or follow us on LinkedIn!

The Founders – Sylvester Severson

Every day, trucks pulling refrigerated trailers deliver food and related items to restaurants, schools, hotels and of course grocery stores.  To many, the details of this transportation are unknown and taken for granted.  We place items in the grocery cart, go out to eat, even order our favorite coffee with a pastry without thinking twice.  As consumers, we expect quality and freshness in an ever-growing list of products that we can purchase.  Some of these items travel thousands of miles with a limited “window” of freshness or shelf-life.  The Farm-to-Fork process is commonly referred to in the industry as “The Cold Chain”.  FG Products is merely a manufacturer/supplier for a few links in this cold chain, but we like to think our role has a little more significance.

Just as Joe Numero and Fred McKinley Jones were presented with an opportunity to solve a problem, which later created the modern transport refrigeration unit and gave rise to Thermo King Corporation, our founder too was presented with an opportunity.  Sylvester “Squeak” Severson was a farmer who happened to be in the right place at the right time.  A conversation with the right individuals and he ultimately recognized the need for an insulated divider to use in refrigerated trailers.  Starting in his barn, he crafted the first Insulated Bulkhead to divide a trailer.  With a large panel strapped to the roof of his station wagon, Squeak made the 100-mile drive to Minneapolis to deliver the concept to SuperValu Inc.  The Insulated Bulkhead was born in 1962 and with it came Foam Glass Products, Inc.   Improvements and features were added to the product like a thermostatically controlled fan and pass-through door.  Squeak received a patent on the Insulated Bulkhead in 1967.  US Patent 3,311,042.

Squeak moved out of the barn and into a nearby building in the unincorporated town of Campia, Wisconsin.  Early FG Bulkheads were aluminum skinned or molded fiberglass containing an injected foam core.  The process of sealing the panel to the interior of the trailer was uniquely solved by air.  A heavy duty inner tube was created, complete with an inflation valve. The inner tube was placed in a channel around the panel and covered with fabric.  A simple bicycle pump (molded into the panel) allowed the operator to inflate the tube and seal the perimeter, securing the bulkhead in place.  Word spread about the Portable Bulkhead and advertisements in Refrigerated Transporter Magazine allowed the company to grow quickly.

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The logic is still sound today.  Separating goods in a trailer by temperature makes sense, as long as you have access to them.  This simple divider allowed an industry to consider distribution differently.  Prior to this, one trailer implied one temperature, therefore requiring more trailers or multiple trips.  Mixing product temperatures in one cooled space risked product integrity and wasted cooling capacity on non-perishable items.  Today, there are as many as four temperatures in one trailer (including dry/ambient) allowing for complete deliveries from one trailer.  As product offerings continue to expand, the need for multi-temp distribution follows.

Sylvester Severson was the founder of FG Products and the man responsible for the Insulated Bulkhead used by so many refrigerated distributors today.  A framed photo of Squeak looks over our conference room and his patent hangs on the wall.  As we sat at the conference table contemplating our first blog post, honoring our founder was the only way to start.  Thank you, Squeak!

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