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American Crystal Sugar Co President's Award winner is hard at work on the job, no matter what it is

Whether it's replacing sugar beet cutting knives, driving a mud truck or sundry other jobs, Elvin Payton enthusiastically gets the job done, said Paul Carlson, Payton's shift supervisor at the American Crystal Sugar Co. East Grand Forks factory district.

A man in a blue hardhat and denim blue shirt stands in front of a wall with an American Crystal Sugar Beet Co. logo.
Elvin Payton, who works at the American Crystal Sugar East Grand Forks factory district, won the 2021 President's Award. Dec. 2. The photo was taken March 2, 2022.
Ann Bailey/Agweek
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EAST GRAND FORKS, MINNESOTA — Elvin Payton’s approach to his laborer job at the East Grand Forks American Crystal Sugar Co. factory district is straightforward — work hard at the tasks at hand.

Whether it's replacing sugarbeet cutting knives, driving a mud truck or sundry other jobs, Payton enthusiastically gets the job done, said Paul Carlson, Payton's shift supervisor at the American Crystal Sugar Co. East Grand Forks factory district.

For Payton, it’s simply a matter of doing his job right.

“I come to work every day. I come on time. If they call me, I come in,” Payton said.

Payton was honored for his work at the factory district with the 2021 American Crystal Sugar Co. President’s Award at the company’s annual meeting on Dec. 2, 2022.

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Though, Payton may say there’s nothing out of the ordinary about what he does, Carlson sees it differently.

“He’s got some characteristics not a lot of people have anymore. He appreciates having a job and working here and building for himself a future,” Carlson said.“Whatever has got to be done, it’s done ... As soon as he is finished up, he says 'What do you want me to do now?'"

Payton moved to East Grand Forks to work at the American Crystal Sugar Co. factory there eight years ago from Chicago, where he had last worked at a lumberyard. He started as a custodian at the factory, then worked in the boiler room before he became a process technician, a job in which he does a variety of tasks.

Payton, who started working with his father at a Chicago lampshade factory when he was 16, over the years has had jobs in manufacturing businesses ranging from cosmetics to candy.

His parents taught him to work hard, and he continues to have that ethic today as he often works double shifts at the East Grand Forks factory district.

“I can sit at home and watch TV or come here and make money,” he said. For Payton the latter is the obvious choice.

Desire to do well, help provide for his 13 grandchildren in Chicago and earn money for his retirement drive him, Payton said. When he’s not working a double shift at the factory, he drives to Chicago to visit them and his five children who live there.

Carlson nominated Payton for the award not only for his accomplishment of the tasks at hand, but also for his friendly, positive attitude, which rubs off on his co-workers.

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“It’s so pleasurable to have that guy around, Everybody likes Elvin. He’s the go-to guy. He never complains,” Carlson said.

Payton enjoys his work at American Crystal Sugar, where, he said, his co-workers and supervisors are friendly. He was honored to get the President’s Award at the Dec. 2 annual meeting.

“I met a lot of farmers. I met the governor (Tim Walz),” he said.

But he didn’t stick around Fargo after the meeting ended because there was another shift starting soon at the East Grand Forks factory district.

“He went right back to work,” Carlson said.

Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: abailey@agweek.com or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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