The items that define the essence of 3M are assorted accordingly inside the glassed case of the plant’s front office.

There are six glossy sample license plates and two road signs that take up one side of the top shelf, while the other half has two neon orange and yellow construction safety vests.

On the bottom shelf, there is an old photograph of the company’s upper management team and a set of trophies and plaques.

Among those accolades include the 2011 Large Business of the Year, awarded by the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Environmental Health and Safety achievement, given by the company to recognize its recipient’s sound environmental management.

The public is invited Saturday to help celebrate yet another achievement, as the plant that now occupies more 816,000 square feet will recognize its 50 years of existence. From 8 to 10 a.m., the public will be given a tour of the plant, followed by photos with a 3M-sponsored NASCAR racecar, which was driven by Jeff Gordon.

“It’s good because it gives an educational-type of tour and lets (people) see what’s inside,” said Charles Lowe, who has been employed by 3M for the past 42 years. From 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. is when current employees and retired 3M workers may exhibit the plant and be offered a catered lunch inside the clubhouse.

3M in Brownwood, which is one of three cities to host a plant in the Lone Star State (the other two are in Austin and Angleton), began manufacturing in 1965 and has garnered its prowess throughout the west-central Texas region with its creations of essential reflective products like road and construction signs.

“3M Brownwood is a great example of this concept in that its many products are a result of taking the concept of reflecting light and using it to illuminate our environment at night,” said Jim Ruder, who retired 15 years ago from 3M after 36 years of employment at the plant.

3M – which stands for Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company – is based out out of St Paul, Minn., and has more than 80 locations throughout the country but operates globally. Over the years, representatives from the Brownwood plant have regularly participated in community events, everything from awarding donations to local organizations to participating in annual Christmas parade floats.

“We try to be a quality company and do good for the environment and the community,” said administrative assistant Shelia Summers.

Summers said that the former employees who make the trip Saturday will not just be significant for them, but also for their families.

I believe they’ll be excited to come back,” she said. “It’s a big part for them, as this was a big part of their life, and it’s good that the families will also get to see where (their parents) got to work.”