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Hancock Concrete is cemented in the community

One of the tour groups during the celebration on July 3 for Hancock Concrete's 100th anniversary. Rae Yost/Stevens County Times.

The sounds of Hancock Concrete are part of daily life in Hancock. Although not a many and frequent as bird calls, the sounds of concrete work often drift through the streets of Hancock on any weekday.

Jessica and James Backman rarely hear emergency sirens while at home in Hanocck. "If I hear anything, it's the background noise from (Hancock) concrete," Jessica Backman said.

Carol Ver Steeg agrees that she can hear the sounds of Hancock Concrete from her home as well.

"I don't know what it is for sure," Ver Steeg said of the sounds.

But, Backman, can identify many. "That sounds like a vibrator," Backman said of one rumbling noise. Or "The backing up of a crane and you hear the beep, beep, beep," she said.

The two women were not complaining. They are part of a community in which Hancock Concrete has had a presence for 100 years. The company celebrated with the community with a meal and tours on July 3. Several hundred people attended the event.

One-hundred years is a long time for a company to make noise in a community, Bill Myers said.

"It helps Hancock. It's kept Hancock going," Myers said of the 100-year-old company that makes manholes, culverts and similar products for road and infrastructure projects.

The company was started in 1917 by Henry Schmidgall. Descendants of Schmidgall family have been associated with the company over that past 100 years. But so have many family members and friends of people in Hancock, Stevens County and the region.

"A lot of guys came out of high school and started to work right away," Myers said. Myers, 93, lives on a farm outside of Hancock. His son-in-law Roger Evink has worked at Hancock Concrete for more than 40 years.

Backman's and Ver Steeg's husbands work at Hancock Concrete. Ver Steeg's for more than 40 years and James Backman started more recently.

Backman encouraged her husband James to apply at Hancock Concrete. "How I ended up learning about it, I was meeting a bunch of people from (the company). I ended up hanging out with them," she said.

Carol Evink notices the employment at Hanock Concrete when she drives by the plant. "I see it going by to go out of town," Evink said. "There's a lot of workers there. (The plant) is busy working."

The company provides jobs which is important to the community, county and region, Jessica Backman and Charles Giese of Benson said.

In return, those workers live, shop and spend money in Hancock and surrounding communities.

The Backmans moved from Morris to Hancock to be nearer to James Backman's workplace.

While not all company employees live in Hancock, some will still make contributions to the local economy.

James Backman said employees will eat the lunch specials at the By Lo Convience store or call in their lunch orders in advance.

The town and the company have changed over the past 100 years.

Myers could recall when Henry Schmidgall brought employees to the work site in a car and they dug the needed culvert trenches by hand.

"The company has changed a lot over the years," Giese said. "A lot for the better."

Community members have noted the growth as Hancock Concrete moved from a downtown location to near Minnesota Highway 9 and added new buildings at the existing location. On July 3, the community got to celebrate such milestones with the company.

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