Historic Cloquet Wood Manufacturing Plant Shuts Down

The factory employed 85 workers who made Diamond Brands matches and toothpicks

CLOQUET, Minn. – Cloquet has long been known as “The City of Wood Industries” but on Monday one of the cities’ oldest manufacturers of Diamond brand products, like matches and toothpicks, sent its 85 workers home for the last time.

When the company, formerly known as Jarden Brand, was sold in May of this year, employees found out they would have to start looking for new work.

“It’s a major landmark and everybody has seen it growing up,” says Angela Franzen, who worked for four years as an inspector at the plant. “It’s just going to be strange having it empty.”

The factory has been part of Cloquet’s history since 1904 when it opened as the Diamond Match Company.

“I think the product Diamond produced for over a century here in Cloquet is something many people are very proud of,” said Holly Butcher, community development director with the city of Cloquet.

After many name changes and owners, the wood manufacturing plant closed up shop for the final time Monday afternoon.

“Everybody goes there and works hard, gives it their all and just to have this happen is very heart breaking for a lot of people,” said Franzen.

Earlier this year, the company was sold to Royal Oak Enterprises. New ownership ultimately decided to close the Cloquet plant as part of the deal.

“It’s millions of dollars of economic downfall for our workers in the plant,” said Steven Petoletti, president of the United Steel Workers Local 209. Petoletti  also worked in the plant for 17 years as a general laborer and is helping many of his fellow employees who are now without work.

“Some of the younger group understands it,” said Petoletti. “The older ones don’t understand it because this is their livelihood.”

Despite the uncertainty of their futures, Petoletti says most of the former factory employees are keeping a positive attitude.

“We’ve applied for TAA, we’re working with the dislocated worker program,” said Petoletti. “There’s a lot of things going on to help the workers.”

 

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