Besse Forest Products

It would be impossible to give a brief history of Besse Forest Products Group Companies, without mentioning the founder, John Besse. Born into a lumbering family, his father owned and operated a hardwood sawmill. He pursued a degree in forestry while working in his father’s sawmill, and went on to hold powerful positions in companies before venturing on his own.

In 1966, John formed Northern Michigan Veneers, Inc. a veneer splicing company. Utilizing the former Atlas Plywood plant, Northern Michigan Veneers began operations in September. By January of 1967 they were splicing 1,000,000 square feet of veneer a month. John Besse’s belief in supplying a good product at a fair price has led to the expansion of the Besse Forest Products Group.

His son Greg, who is currently the Executive Vice President, has worked all his years in the company business. Today, the company has grown to its present size with over 1100 employees and 750,000 square feet of manufacturing facilities. They are one of the largest producers of hardwood face veneers in North America. In addition to logging crews and a forestry department, the group has four rotary cutting mills, two veneer slicing plants, two veneer splicing plants, two plywood departments, and five complete sawmills. They are emerging as a leading exporter of North American Hardwood Products to markets and customers around the world.

White Pine Industrial Park

For 45 years, the White Pine Mine was the major source of employment and economic stability in the Western UP. In it’s heyday, the mine employed over 2,000 people in it’s various operations. When they could no longer afford to operate, because the cost of production and the market price of copper shifted, the mine closed.

Rather than lament the loss of a major employer, local visionaries were determined to find something positive in the change. The last manager of the mine suggested the ownership of the vacant mining properties be transferred to the Ontonagon County EDC, so they could be turned into active business centers.

The EDC rose to the challenge and spearheaded a coalition of local government units to develop an industrial park at the former mine site.

Today, with the aid of $1.2 million in loans and grants, the infrastructure is in place for the site to grow into an industrial center and magnet for industry. A number of companies have already moved into the park, which also has room for future development.

Here to accept the Award of Excellence for the White Pine Industrial Park is Barry Fay. He worked for three years on the White Pine Industrial Park project and is currently responsible for figuring out “what to do” with an idle, 40 megawatt power plant that provided electricity to the former Copper Range mining site.

Michigan Limestone Ops

Michigan Limestone originated in 1912 with the opening of the Calcite Plant located on northern Lake Huron in the northwest lower peninsula of Michigan near Rogers City by the United States Steel Corporation. Another plant opened by the Inland Steel Corporation in 1920 for the same purpose, was the Port Inland Plant in the middle of the Upper Peninsula on Lake Michigan near Gulliver.

In 1955, Port Dolomite was opened by the United States Steel Corporation to accommodate a changing market in the steel industry. Port Dolomite is located on northern Lake Huron near Cedarville Michigan. In the year 2000 the three plants became one company, Michigan Limestone Operations, Inc., a division of the Oglebay Norton Company.

Nelson Paint-Nelson Technology

Nelson Paint Company/Nelson Technologies- The Nelson Paint Company was founded in 1940 by Charles and Evan Nelson and has been a family operated business for over 60 years. Nelson Paint is world renowned for making top quality paintballs. Great pride is put into manufacturing premium products and being a leader in the industry.

The Nelson Paint Company originally served the forestry market. Faced with the challenge of marking trees in hard to reach places, Charles Nelson invented a paint pellet that could be shot out of a gun. Hence, the birth of the paintball! In 1996, they began their paintball manufacturing operation. They were one of the first companies to enter the softgel manufacturing business. Paintballs have since taken on a life of their own. The first survival games were held in the early 80’s and the sport is continues to grow.

The Nelson family holds great pride in the fact that they invented the first paintball.  This fact has not stopped them from continual improvement.  Nelson’s high quality production team strives to make the best paintballs with state of the art equipment, materials, and technology. Today they have 50+ employees, six paintball machines and produce approximately 900 million paintballs per year.