Life after Lund...
"Life after Lund."
That's what many of the 144 workers who were laid off from Lund Boats last fall are searching for and working towards.
For Doug Sack, the quest for a new career led him back to the classroom.
After 17 years with the Lund Boats plant in New York Mills, Sack is attending school at the MSCTC-Wadena campus, and will be going on to St. Cloud State next year.
"The way I looked at it, if I wanted to have a career, I would have to go back to school and find something else," said Sack, who lives in Perham with his wife Lisa and two daughters under age 16.
When he finishes his schooling, Sack will be certified to operate water treatment plants and sewer collection systems.
The situation was considerably darker for Sack on November 14, when Lund's parent company Brunswick announced that 144 jobs would be cut from the New York Mills plant.
Regional unemployment statistics at the time indicated there were only 29 jobs available in a 50-mile radius.
More than 200 jobs have been eliminated in the region over the past month, according to some estimates, so the situation continues to deteriorate.
Not long after the Lund lay-offs were announced, the Workforce Center in Wadena initiated a committee of dislocated workers. Sack volunteered for the committee, which was designed to help other Lund workers.
So far, about 87 of the 144 Lund workers have sought services from the Workforce Center, according to Darla Hoemberg, team leader at the Workforce Center.
At this point, according to Hoemberg, it appears about 30 of the workers are considering school to find a new profession, similar to Sack's plan.
The Workforce Center was able to tap $607,000 in federal funds to help retrain and relocate workers. For Sack, he receives financial aid for his tuition. If he moves to take a position, the Workforce Center would also financially assist with moving expenses.
"I'll probably end up having to move," said Sack.
The field he has chosen has very good long range career prospects--but wastewater treatment is specialized, and the positions are more than likely going to be at scattered locations.
"The job prospects are extremely good; there are more and more regulations on water filtration all the time," said Sack.
With water quality continuing to be a critical environmental issue, Sack will find himself in a career protecting the waters, on which the Lund boats he once made, float.