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Hillman High School Students tour Besser Company in Alpena

April 23, 2024 – Besser Company in Alpena hosted 16 students, grades 9-12 from Hillman High School for a talent tour in the manufacturing industry. Students arrived by public school bus at 1:00pm and were welcomed by Brooke Cousineau, HR Specialist and Joe Bracken, Molds Project Manager.

Joe started the tour by emphasizing safety and having everyone including teachers, and staff wear safety glasses. He took the students to the large mural on the wall that showed the Besser Automated Block Plant and how every piece of the process fits together to make concrete block machines. Joe provided a little history of how Jesse Besser started the company in the early 1900’s having a hand at producing cars and tractors and then in 1904, he made his first hand tamp block machine. The tour transitioned to the assembly department where Joe explained the assembled VibraPac block machine and how it produces 3 concrete blocks every 6 seconds. He went on to say that there are many different types of concrete block machines along with producing many spare parts for those machines here at this plant and Besser North. They are recognized as the leader for quality concrete products equipment and parts for masonry, hardscape, pipe and precast markets of the industry.

Students walked the entire plant, visiting each department. In the store room they saw the BLM’s that dispense finished parts and storage racks for large raw steel. In the welding department they saw the plasma welder and robotic welder. Joe mentioned that having robots weld eliminates human error and is much quicker, which he demonstrated by timing the robot as it made 4 perfect welds in 50 seconds. Joe explained that when steel comes out of heat treat or via the welders, some steel may be twisted and uneven and needs to be straightened. The students were amazed that some of the thickest steel can actually be straightened. Joe explained what the CNC machines do along with how the lathes work, the saws and burning departments, the milling and drilling departments, and how maintenance keeps up with all the work stoppage and breakdowns. The tour ended in the heat treat department where the students were shown the kilns and Joe explained how those processes worked. Joe explained that Besser Alpena is World Headquarters for 18 office locations around the U.S. and that throughout the years, the focus still remains - to improve the processes through innovation and engineering by continually producing aesthetically pleasing, durable, safe, environmentally sound, and exceptional quality manufacturing concrete products using Besser productions systems.

The students were very attentive throughout the tour. They were amazed at the block production process, how much steel the company goes through, and all the different machines that make so many parts in one facility.


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