Forging a New Life

Sheldon Burslie’s life turned around following advice from his sister

Ask Sheldon Burslie about leaving the Twin Cities metro area for Douglas County and he doesn’t mince words. He turned his whole life around here, and is forever grateful for it.

Growing up in Lakeville, he needed extra help in school, he says, and was surrounded by drugs, in a dead-end job and had fallen into debt. He will forever recall the words of his sister who had gone into the Air Force.alexandria industries, sheldon burslie, manufacturing, machining, job skills

“She advised me to get away,” Burslie says. She told him that who you surround yourself with is who you are going to become.

He was looking for a place with high-paying jobs and a low cost of living, heard about a job opportunity at Alexandria Industries, and received a tour from Robbie Betterman. “He liked the person that I was, and thought I fit into our culture and values,” Burslie said. “But I had no experience in manufacturing. He took a chance on me.”

That chance has paid many dividends for the company. Burslie has steadily worked his way up in those eight years, and now serves his team as a lead in the fabrication department, where he helps to manage customers’ orders, manufacturing capacity and timelines, employee support and quality control.

He wiped out that debt and began earning enough to provide for his family of five, including three young boys, and buy a home in Evansville.

And he made the most of everything the company provided, from all kinds of in-house training programs to continuous improvement training and leadership training. “A couple people at the college definitely opened my eyes to seeing things a different way,” he said. He joined a public speaking group, Toastmasters, and it has boosted his self-confidence.

“They (his employer) test you in certain ways, your leadership style, and give you the opportunity where you can shine, said Burslie, who has even remodeled the break room at work. “I’m surrounding myself with successful people. Look at the values of the people here. It just feels like one big family between these walls.

Each winter Alexandria Industries holds Fishing for a Cure, which raises considerable money for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. Between 75-90 employees volunteer for the event, and Burslie loves being a part of all that goes into it, which starts months in advance and includes setting up very early on the morning of the event.

“It’s nighttime and freezing cold, tents are blowing all over the place, and it’s so worth it at the end of the day, he said. “It’s heartwarming. I’m a feeling guy, so it’s good to know that the money we raise is going to a common goal. We’ve all had loved ones die of cancer. We’re making a difference every single day when we step foot in here.

Burslie has also noticed a difference when he’s away from work, in the types of people who live in Douglas County.

“It feels like people are a lot more Minnesota friendly here. We all come together and try and help each other. That’s a good feeling to have.

That’s among the many lessons he has learned since moving here, and they tie into those words of advice spoken by his sister many years ago.

“Success is what you make it;’ Burslie said. “You have to surround yourself around people who want to make it and care about one another. Take that one step forward and make that change.”

PAGES 6 & 9 | IMPACT 2019 | ©Echo Press | Forum Communications