Minnesota Senator Al Franken Tours Viracon
January 19, 2011

Minnesota Sen. Al Franken visited Viracon in Owatonna, Minn., last week to talk about jobs, energy codes and international trade in the glass industry. In addition to a roundtable discussion with company leadership, Franken also toured the factory floor.

Pictured, from left to right: Greg Silvestri, Viracon president; Minnesota Senator Al Franken; Bill Wright, Viracon vice president of operations; Jim Wendorff, Viracon vice president of human resources.

Jim Wendorff, Viracon vice president of human resources, was instrumental in arranging Sen. Franken’s visit. Wendorff says that he is involved with a workforce development community board where Sen. Franken had previously visited.

“I spoke to his aid and recommended that he visit Viracon,” says Wendorff, who notes that Sen. Franken has recognized the upper Midwest as the “Silicone Valley of Glass.”

“So he has an appreciation of our industry here, both residential and non-residential,” says Wendorff. “I told his aid we would love to host Sen. Franken and show him what we’re doing at Viracon.”

Christine Shaffer, director of marketing, says much of the visit focused on energy codes
“We had the opportunity to spend an hour with him and this included a factory tour, where we were running coating equipment for energy efficient glass.”

International trade and job creation were also discussed.

“Sen. Franken is looking at ways that can help with job creation,” adds Wendorff.

Shaffer adds, “It’s always an honor to be able to host members of Congress to discuss different concerns and issues.”

Wendorff agrees, pointing out that it’s always good for legislators to be aware of who you are as a company, as you never know what type of issues may arise.

“You want them to be familiar with who you are and where you are,” he says.

Overall, Wendorff says the experience was a positive one.

“Sen. Franken was very engaging and is very serious and wants to do a good job representing both Minnesota and manufacturing,” says Wendorff.

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