The Roundup -

Employees Enjoy 30 Plus Years At Sidney Sugars

 

Beets waiting to be processed at Sidney Sugars factory.

Dee Ann Sifuentes of Sidney Sugars has been an employee since September of 1977. When Sifuentes first started at the factory, she began at the beet end of things. Her duties included overseeing the beets coming in as well as extracting the juice.

"When I first started working for Sidney Sugars 38 years ago, there were only 7-8 women that worked here. Now there are 61 female employees at the factory out of the 251 that are employed here," said Dee Ann when asked about changes in the factory over the past 30 years. "There has also been an addition of new silos since I first started."

Dee Ann also talked about how back then they used to pack and load the sugar by hand, typically only filling 5-10 lb. bags with sugar and hand loading them into trucks. "Now we have forklifts and we fill huge industrial sized bags with sugar, load them onto pallets, and then into trucks."

Dee Ann Sifuentes is now the leader of the sanitation program at Sidney Sugars; there she keeps track of when and how things need to be cleaned to ensure the best quality product for customers.

Another employee who has been at the factory since she was a child, visiting her father who was a watchman at the time, is Gloria Sifuentes. Gloria used to watch her father make his rounds and loved helping him make them, and even as a child she couldn't wait to work at the factory. "I thought the factory was fascinating as a kid," said Gloria.

Sifuentes is now working at Sidney Sugars as a white boiler, which means that she boils the juice from the beets to a certain consistency so the beets drop white centrifugals, which get cut out to create the sugar. Before working as a white boiler, she had many jobs around the factory. First she worked as a sample carrier for a year in 1977. In 1990 she worked as a yard and factory laborer where she worked on the pile ground and took tickets from drivers when they came to dump their beets. "That was a fun job, and I got to see a lot people. But later I decided I wanted to go inside the factory to try and get a full-time position." In 1992, she started working in the hammer mill and did that until 1994. "That was not a fun job as it was mostly outdoors and cold." In 1994, she got a job as a sugar cutter and was able to work inside. That same year, a job was posted as a centrifugal operator; Gloria bid for the job and worked the position until 1998. In 1998, a job was posted for a raw sugar boiler and she worked in that field until 2004. It was in 2004 that Gloria Sifuentes decided she wanted to go to college. "Going to college was something I had always wanted to do, so I left the factory and went to NDSCS (North Dakota State College of Science). I received a certificate in Medical Transcription and an Associate of Applied Science degree in Medical Administrative Assistant." Towards the end of Gloria's education, she decided to move back home and finish her classes online for Medical Coding and Billing. "I never did get to finish that degree because at the time my husband worked in the oilfield, and it was slowing down and he got laid off," said Gloria.

In 2009, Gloria needed a full-time job fast, so she reapplied at the factory. "I was surprised when I got my old job back as raw boiler. I did that job until 2011." Again, a job as a white boiler was posted and Gloria bid for the job; she is still working as a white boiler today. "I am hoping to one day move up as sugar end foreman, and who knows, maybe a supervisor."

Most of Gloria's family has worked at Sidney Sugars throughout the years. "My parents as well as sister, brothers, uncles, cousins and nephews. At one time people would joke around and call it the Sifuentes factory."

A lot of changes have happened since Gloria first started working at the factory. The name of the factory used to be Holly Sugar but was later changed to Sidney Sugars. The factory has also updated a lot of equipment and has disposed of machines that were no longer needed. "When I worked in my earlier years, most of the work was done manually. Now we have computers to help and assist us. Granted we still have a few things we do manually, but it sure makes our job easier to do."

Gloria Sifuentes

Throughout the years, Gloria has seen a lot of people come and go, from factory managers to supervisors, to mill workers and even office personnel. Gloria goes to work every day and sees a lot of the same old factory that has been there for years and remembers how it was when her father worked there. "The one thing I really miss and wish they would bring back is they used to have a whistle that they blew when campaign was over, to let the town know. I loved hearing that whistle, knowing we had another successful campaign."

Finally, what Gloria likes most about her job is the people that she works with. "We not only work together, but sometimes we get together outside of work for barbecues. It's like my second family."

 

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