There is an ancient Chinese proverb that states, “Many hands make for light lifting.”

3M’s hands are not only in the materials of the products they create, but are also found throughout the community using its many hands to create a better sense of community.

The Brownwood facility is celebrating 50 years of service this weekend, culminating with Saturday’s Open House that included tours to the public, Jeff Gordon’s No. 24 3M NASCAR, and tours for current and former employees who also celebrated with a company-wide luncheon, featuring the return of retirees.

Everyone was welcomed with open arms.

In the past 50 years, 3M has produced tens of thousands of products and employed thousands of people, but it is the people who are making the biggest impact at the community level.

3M is not just a place for gainful employment. You get that sense right away from Paul Aufenkamp, who serves as plant manager. There is a sense of family and duty you get from conversing with 3M employees and that shows you that it is not just a place where you punch a time clock and collect a paycheck.

Aufenkamp spoke of giving back to the community in a pair of interviews I was fortunate enough to have this week. Donating to the United Way, Lyric Theatre and local schools and serving on various civic clubs are all ways 3M gives back to the community.

When it comes down to brass tacks, community is where each individual employee resides. While pumping money into the local economy through paychecks are all good and well, 3M is about producing quality leaders who will be good stewards of the towns they live in and the boards they serve.

There were plenty of smiles Saturday morning at 3M’s Brownwood facility – and for good reason. Retirees were happy to be back at the place they called home to see how it has changed. New employees were there to see an area of the plant they don’t get to see everyday.

Those smiles will last through the weekend, and in the coming weeks and years. 3M has shown it is dedicated to the region through generous efforts whether financial or people donating time for a good cause.

There is a great sense of pride emanating from each and every 3M employee – and they all say the same thing. “3M takes care of me and my family and gives back to the community.”

To say Brownwood is a better place because of 3M might be an understatement because you can’t place value on that kind of pride and community service and commitment.

Brent Addleman is the editor of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Sundays. He may be reached by e-mail at