Throughout its history, Schad has been very fortunate to have a significant population of clients as well as employees north of the Zilwaukee Bridge on I-75, or as Michiganders call the area “Up North”.
These employees have represented Schad in iron foundries, chemical plants, mineral processing operations, power plants, and other specialty manufacturers with pride and with a spirit of friendly competition with their Detroit area counterparts since the beginning. This month, we take a bit of time to honor a few key members of the “Up North Crew” and their contributions to Schad.
Kenny Wieland was a Schad bricklayer foreman who served the company throughout the seventies, eighties, and nineties. Bricklaying was in Kenny’s blood as he had three brothers and a father who all pursued the trade. Within Schad, Kenny really made a name for himself working on iron furnaces, especially at General Motors in Saginaw, Michigan. As his career progressed, Kenny also lead projects for Schad at Dow Chemical, Consumer’s Energy, and Ford Motor Company.
Kenny is described by those who remember working with him as a “very good mason.” He was a rough guy who worked hard and didn’t tolerate anything less from the guys on his crew. Kenny wasn’t afraid to send people home from the job site if they weren’t meeting his expectations. A story that is still a part of breakroom storytelling is that he once fired a laborer because his hard hat didn’t fit right!
Kenny embodied the “work hard play hard” mindset and when not at work he could usually be found at the Country Home Bar in Kawkawlin, Michigan. Kenny spent so much time at the bar, that he often used their house phone as the best number to reach him at.
Famous for always having a toothpick in his mouth, another story many remember about Kenny is that he had his own Schad fork-truck that he referred to as “Big Red.” Everybody knew better than to operate Big Red unless they were willing to be confronted by Kenny!
Kenny took the time to pass his trade on to those who he deemed worthy of learning, and his willingness to train the next generation of Schad masons is perhaps his greatest contribution to the company.
One guy who Kenny Wieland was willing to teach was Dale Rasmer. Dale started with Schad as a laborer for Kenny and worked hard and caught on quick. Dale went on to become a bricklayer foreman for Schad in a career that lasted from the late 1970’s to the early 2000’s. As a matter of fact, Dale became a foreman at a lot of the accounts where Kenny had taught him the trade.
Dale is remembered as a quiet guy who knew how to run a job. Much tamer than his teacher, Dale was well respected by those who worked for him. Dale is remembered as another good teacher who was a calculating worker. “Dale always came through,” remembers current Schad foreman, Paul Strzelecki. “I have a lot of respect for Dale and learned a lot from him.”
On the personal side, Dale is remembered for always whistling. He was also an avid outdoorsman who loved to hunt and fish. Dale always valued his family, and a lot of people remember his wife, Denise, who worked at the famous “Schad North” employee hang out, the Country House Bar in Kawkawlin.
Another Schad bricklayer foreman that started out laboring for Kenny Wieland, was Mark McNally. Like Dale, Mark worked hard and picked up the trade quickly. Mark is remembered as a stubborn guy, who worked hard, and could run a good project for Schad. Mark was an “old-school” foreman who worked hard and expected those on his crews to do the same.
Like many others, Mark also honed his craft in iron furnaces throughout Northern Michigan but also became skilled in a wide range of refractory applications including aluminum furnaces, chemical plants, and waste/energy projects. Throughout his career, Mark was responsible for completing refractory projects from Georgia to Minnesota. In fact, a career highlight for Mark included running an enormous fluidized bed project in Minneapolis.
As with other great Schad foreman, Mark helped the next generation of tradesmen learn the craft. “Mark taught me a lot,” said Schad laborer, Brian Strzelecki. “Mark was a no non-sense guy who taught me to have a strong work ethic and that work is for work and home is for home.”
Mark was always dedicated to the company and exhibited a lot of toughness. Even as arthritis began to make the trade more uncomfortable later in his career, Mark never took a day off. Always toughing it out to make sure that the customer got their project done.
Like many of the Up North Crew, Mark is an avid outdoorsman that loves to hunt. He also is a dedicated family man who worked hard to raise his family with the wife he often speaks of, Cindy. Mark is also passionate about his dogs, his coffee, and his beer!
Mark retired from the trade in the 2010’s and is still enjoying his family and the outdoors.
Schad would like to extend an enormous thank you to Kenny, Dale, and Mark for their time and dedication to Schad. It also would like to acknowledge the contributions of all of the other “Up North Crew” members that have exhibited toughness and a strong work ethic for many decades. Without you, we could not accomplish our goals.