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GP’s Freeman going strong

There are those who live their whole lives preparing for their retirement. Most of them expect to be ready to sit back and enjoy life at the age of 60-65.

Glen Freeman is not that kind of worker. He has completed his 58th year with Georgia-Pacific Mill here in Brewton, although the company’s name has changed a few times over those years.

A couple of months ago, GP and its parent company, KOCH Industries, recognized the fact that Freeman has the record for longevity with the company. They decided to put the spotlight on him, as he has been at the mill almost as long that there has been a mill located here. It first opened under the name of Container Corporation. Since that time, ownership of the company has changed several times, but it has continued to operate making the products that people use every day.

A film crew was on site during the Blueberry Festival this year to recognize Freeman for both his work and his love of his company.

“I am 76 years old, and I love my job,” Freeman said. “I must love it or I wouldn’t have stayed with it for so long. I am in the department that deals with the safety issues so I see everyone who comes to work out here. I dare say that I know them all.”

Not only does he know everyone at GP, but they know him and it is also clear they love to work with him. Ten years ago, when GP took over the mill, he was already of retirement age, but he wasn’t ready to go home just yet. One could say that GP is in his blood.

He grew up in Jay, Fla. and was not long out of high school when he first went to work at the mill.

“I had worked at odd jobs such as working at the service station and picking cotton,” he said. “I had no training at anything. At the time I was working at a service station and a foreman from the mill stopped by. He told me I should put in an application. I went out, applied and went to work in the utilities department, and I still work there. I say work, but when you love what you do as much as I do, it’s not work.”

Freeman said he has always tried to do what is right and is his best critic.

“GP is unique in that it gives opportunities to its employees to always better themselves,” he said. “It has always surprised me to see how many don’t take advantage of the opportunities offered by the company.”

The film made by the company has been finished and will be used to promote, not only Freeman and GP, but the City of Brewton as well. It has been a good mixture over the years.

GP is the largest employer in the area, with 450 employees. It has just seen a building project increase the amount of energy that can be generated by the mill. In a few months, a new phase of upgrades will draw in more workers, but as Freeman said, “We have to constantly improve to make sure we keep up with everything.”

When he is not at GP, Freeman is usually busy setting up car shows to display his and his friends’ classic cars. The Annual Blueberry Festival here in Brewton showcases those vehicles and gives the owners another opportunity to compare their cars with others. He and his wife of 50 years, Ann, works together to make it one of the best shows along the Gulf Coast.

“Time seems to fly when you are doing something that you like to do,” he said. “If you like your work, it stops being too much of a job and you can just have fun. I must love what I do or I wouldn’t keep doing it at my age. A person should like what they do. It’s not quite the same as it was in the 1950s when you were just glad to have a job.

“I am glad to be working with a company like GP, who cares about their employees and the community where they live,” Freeman added.

“Brewton is the best place to live and the city cares about how we look to those who drive through our area. We have good parks (one just recently overhauled by GP), flowers, schools, churches and medical facilities. We work together. What else could we ask for?”