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Celebrating partnership: SJE-Rhombus and DAC mark 25 years

Working together are SJE and DAC employees (back row) Todd Knopf, DAC employee, Bob Meyer, DAC employee, Jeanie Kohler, SJE employee, Kathy Kennedy, DAC employee and Mark Ostlie, SJE employee. (Front row) Rita Westlund, DAC employee. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Jeanie Kohler, Purchasing Buyer and SJE-Rhombus eighteen year employee veteran, visited the Becker County DAC (Developmental Achievement Center) on Valentine’s Day to honor the DAC and SJE-Rhombus’s business relationship of 25 years.

Several DAC workers, clients and staff enjoyed a morning break of Valentine cookies and punch that SJE-Rhombus provided in recognition for twenty-five years of DAC contract services. 

“The DAC continues to provide valuable resources to SJE and we enjoy working with all of their staff who display wonderful work ethics and positive attitudes,” said Kohler.

Rita Westlund, DAC job trainer, has been ensuring SJE-Rhombus’s weekly production orders are completed to SJE’s specifications for the past twenty five years.

Since February 17, 1989, Rita and other DAC staff have worked with nearly 100 different contract DAC employees performing a variety of light packaging, assembly and clerical jobs for SJE-Rhombus at the DAC facilities.

“The DAC provides a competitive and committed business opportunity within our community and SJE is proud to be a part of DAC’s contract customer base”.

Prior to SJE-Rhombus utilizing Becker County DAC’s contract services, SJE hired an individual through a state grant community employment training experience program called Project COMPETE.

Chan Nelson worked as a full time production employee in the packaging area at SJE-Rhombus for six years. 

Kathy Kennedy, DAC Job Development Coordinator for over thirty-one years, provided job coaching or one-to-one training to Chan at the SJE-Rhombus facility ensuring Chan learned all the aspects of his job.

The Becker County DAC offers a day program that provides services to adults with differing abilities while offering various training and three types of employment opportunities to local area businesses.

When the DAC places an employee with a local area business, they provide one-to-one job coaching that is referred to as an individual placement.

Currently, individuals have been placed and are working at Detroit Lakes Newspapers (since May 1988), Dynamic Homes (since May 1993), Central Market (since August 1995) and 3 individuals at Papa Murphy’s (since March 2004).

The DAC has also been providing cleaning services to Pro Systems, Incorporation since March 1995 and assisting the MAC/NAPS program (Mothers and Children/Nutrition Assistance Program for Seniors) by carrying food boxes out to participants’ vehicles since April 2002.

DAC employees can be found throughout the community and are also providing contract services to; Bachmann Auctioneers, Detroit Lakes Jaycees, Medi-Van, Mahube-OTWA Community Council, Lions Club, Detroit Lakes Noon Rotary Club, VFW Club, Timber Roots Millwork, Tschider Financial Planning, Ag Resources, BTD Manufacturing, Best Western Holland House & Suites, Midwest Printing, Fastenal, Lakeshirts, Hawley School, Parrot Heads Club, Cormorant and Frazee communities and others.

For more information on the DAC’s employment services, please contact: Kathy Kennedy, Job Development Coordinator at 847-8206 or

Employee-owned pride

This past week, SJE Rhombus held its annual ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) Week celebration. 

With its world headquarters located in the Detroit Lakes area, SJE Rhombus has been an industry leading electronic control solutions provider for nearly 40 years, and has been an employee-owned company for the past 26 years. 

Each year, the company picks a theme for their annual ESOP Week festivities, which ties into the spirit of co-ownership. Activities are planned around the theme to help reinforce the concept of leveraging the company’s success by working together as a team.

The theme this year, “Employees are the Heart of our Success”, was chosen because SJE believes that it has a multitude of exceptional employees that truly are responsible for the long term success and perpetual growth of the organization.  “It’s about honoring the employees and all they have done to help the company excel,” said Renae Twigg, a member of HR staff and a participant of the EOAC – Employee Ownership Activities Committee) “We achieved record sales this year, and we need to show appreciation for all those that made it happen,” she added.