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Published December 02 2012

Wahpeton plant employee given 1972 Corvette for 40th anniversary

Wahpeton, N.D. - For Mike Boock, Christmas came early this year. Boock, the shipping and receiving manager at WCCO Belting in Wahpeton, was given a special gift on Saturday night. At a roast honoring his 40 years of work with the company, he was presented with a toy model of a 1972 Corvette, the year that he started work at the plant.

That wasn’t the real gift, of course – taped to the bottom of the toy was a key to an actual restored 1972 Corvette.

Gazing at the gold-colored car in the parking lot of the plant on Sunday afternoon, Boock said it hasn’t sunk it yet that the vehicle is actually his.

“It’s a beautiful gift,” he said. “I’m totally amazed.”

While Boock says that Thomas Shorma, president of WCCO Belting, goes out of his way to recognize all employees on anniversaries of their employment, he never expected anything like this.

“It says a lot about the family, and the family business, for them to do something like this for their employees,” Boock said. “I really appreciate it.”

That type of spirit represents the kind of mentality and atmosphere that Shorma has created at WCCO, Boock said. “It’s not like a big company, at all. He’s very in touch with his employees,” he said. “It says a lot for him.”

Boock started at WCCO Belting as a 19-year-old just looking for part-time work outside of school. Over the years, he found himself taking on different roles at the plant, and “40 years later, here I am,” he said.

And on Saturday night at the Eagles Club in Wahpeton, Boock took center stage to be roasted in the presence of his co-workers and family.

“People were pretty good, actually,” Boock said of the roast. “They were decent.”

Then at the end of the night, Boock’s new vehicle was presented to him as employees opened the club’s doors and drove the car in.

“I was very shocked,” he said.

Though he would’ve liked to have taken the car out then and there, Boock waited until Sunday morning to hit the open roads. (“There was some celebrating going on” Saturday night, he said.)

So far, not surprisingly, he’s enjoyed every minute with it.

“It has some power,” he said, laughing. “I found that out today.”

He hopes to take advantage of the recent warm weather and drive the car as much as he can in the next few days. Once winter actually hits, though, he’ll have to put it away for the season.

Even after four decades, Boock has no plans to stop working anytime soon. Asked whether he’ll reach his 50-year mark with the company, Boock laughed and shrugged. “As long as they’ll keep me here, I suppose,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535