Compass Minerals plant manager marks 50 years

John Gottschalk has been the plant manager at the Unity Compass Minerals facility since August of 1996. His career spans a remarkable 50 years with the same company, although the company’s name has changed over the years.
Gottschalk started in June of 1970 with the Sifto Salt Division of Domtar Chemicals Ltd. in Goderich, Ont. He started as a lab technician.
During his 50-year career, he went on from his initial position to fill roles as a lab technologist, development lab supervisor, production superintendent, plant manager at Amherst, N.S. and plant manager at Unity and Wynyard.
Compass Minerals bought the Wynyard sodium sulphate plant from Big Quill Resources in 2011 and, after failing to find a suitable replacement for the manager there in 2013, Gottschalk was asked to take it on until they could develop a new manager at this location. He was able to turn over the Wynyard plant to the new manager in April of 2020.
When asked how he co-ordinated management at both facilities Gottschalk said, “I had such strong and competent staff at the Unity facility that I was able to delegate much of the day-to-day stuff to them. This allowed me to concentrate on Wynyard.
“What I found there, pleasantly, was also a very strong staff that simply needed some sense of direction and help to transition them from a small, privately held company to part of a much larger multi-national corporation.”
Marking the anniversary of his 50 years with the company, Unity staff held a safe, socially distanced cake and coffee event. Wynyard location held a retirement event Aug. 13.
When asked about the biggest chance he has observed, Gottschalk said, “There’s been a tremendous amount of automation and computerization. In 1970, people were considered to be ‘advanced’ if they had a scientific calculator. Now many of our staff have company issued laptops and certainly everyone has smartphones that have more computing power than the mainframe computers I was exposed to at university
Gottschalk credits the people, their work ethic and steadfast support from the town of Unity, the Unity Chamber of Commerce and the RM of Round Valley for the success of Unity’s plant. Compass Minerals employs 58 full-time workers as well as summer students. A testament to the positive work environment, salary and benefits is that Compass Minerals has a number of long-term employees. In addition to Gottschalk’s 50-year milestone, Mike Brien recently retired with 37 years of service. Pat Risling is coming up to 47 years with the company, Eldon Clarke is at 44 years of service and Daryl Mackie will reach 42 years at the close of 2020. Randy Bosch and Greg Eckes both hit the 40-year mark with the company this January.  
“We have had other long-term employees retire before me including Don Burns and Ed Duscherer, among others,” Gottschalk adds.
Compass Minerals is Unity’s second-largest employer, next to North West Terminal and nwPure.  
With retirement at the end of  September, Gottschalk says his “honey- do” list is long and he and wife Helena Long have tons of things they want to do on their acreage. Jointly the couple have seven children, 17 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. While most are in Saskatchewan the remainder are in Nova Scotia. He adds he may do a bit of consulting once in a while.
Gottschalk’s successor as Compass Minerals plant manger will be Jack Neil. Neil will be the first Unity native employee to become plant manager. 

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