More than 2,600 gift cards handed out to thank workers, boost local economies

BAY CITY – Michigan Sugar Company this week distributed more than 2,600 restaurant gift cards to its employees as a way to say “thank-you” and provide a much-needed boost to local businesses. Each of the company’s approximately 1,300 employees received $100 in gift cards that were purchased from more than 50 restaurants in communities like Bay City, Caro, Croswell and Sebewaing, as well as Fremont, Findlay and Toledo, Ohio, where Michigan Sugar also has facilities.

“As a food manufacturer, Michigan Sugar Company has been designated by the Department of Homeland Security as a critical infrastructure industry, which means we have a responsibility to do what we can to maintain a healthy workforce and keep our production lines operating,” explained Michigan Sugar Company President and CEO Mark Flegenheimer. “During this stressful and challenging time related to the COVID-19 pandemic, our employees have stayed focused on the task at hand and shown incredible determination as we continue to produce, package and ship sugar on a daily basis. I can’t thank them enough for the dedication they have shown and the efforts they have made to keep our products flowing into the marketplace.”

In looking for a way to say an extra “thank-you” to employees, company officials said they took into consideration the fact that many restaurants have closed their doors, laid off employees and are now trying to figure out what’s next.

“We hope this helps ease the pain of this pandemic for those businesses just a little bit,” said Michigan Sugar Company Board Chairman Adam Herford.

Michigan Sugar Company also has kept a focus on the doctors, nurses, first responders and other health care professionals who are in need of personal protection equipment. In recent days, the company donated more than 1,000 masks, nearly 800 pairs of safety glasses and 550 pairs of gloves to six hospitals – McLaren Bay Region in Bay City, Covenant Health Care in Saginaw, Scheurer Hospital in Pigeon, McLaren Caro, McLaren Port Huron and Hills & Dales General Hospital in Cass City.

“We know these professionals are on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19,” said Herford, a grower-owner from Elkton. “They are true heroes in our communities and we encourage every business and individual that can help in some way to do so.”

The gift card giveaway and PPE donations come as Michigan Sugar Company prepares to wrap up its annual sugarbeet slicing campaign on or around April 8. On Wednesday, April 1, the company surpassed the 1 billion pound mark for sugar produced during the campaign and expects to finish the campaign by producing about 1.06 billion pounds.

Meanwhile, Michigan Sugar Company’s nearly 900 grower-owners have begun planting the 2020 sugarbeet crop. To date, more than 12,000 acres of an expected 160,000 acres have been planted.

“While the typical joy that comes from finishing a slicing campaign and planting a new crop may be dampened a bit this year by the Coronavirus pandemic, I have never been more proud of what we have accomplished by working together,” said Flegenheimer. “The human spirit at our company certainly has not been dampened.”