SIDNEY — It’s the workers of Shelby County who will be praised when Gateway Arts Council premieres its documentary film, “Moving a Nation,” Saturday and Sunday at the Sidney Auto-Vue Drive-In.
The 75-minute movie will begin at about 7:45 p.m. both nights. Gates will open at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free. A DVD will be available before Christmas. It will sell for $20 and can be ordered at www.gatewayartscouncil.org.
The project is the second of GAC’s planned recognitions of the segments of Shelby County society memorialized in the George Danhires millennium sculptures on the courtsquare. This one is about industry.
Filmmaker John Ondo, of Columbus, still photographer Pat Elsass, of Botkins, the Sidney Civic Band under the direction of Phil Chilcote, GAC staff and volunteers have created a highly professional documentary, portions of which will tug at the heartstrings and stir the pride of the workers whose stories they tell.
The movie glides from one site to another, taking viewers inside some of the area’s diverse industries.
One particular slide is certain to bring a laugh: “It’s pronounced Roo-shee” floats across the screen before viewers drop in for a visit at Francis Mfg. in Russia.
The film is narrated by GAC board President Chris Gibbs. Shelby County Historical Society Secretary and community historian Rich Wallace provides fascinating information on how and why Shelby County came to be a manufacturing powerhouse on the world scene.
Company presidents, vice presidents and others tell about their firms’ workforces — the people who get up every day to make products that literally and figuratively move the nation. Audiences will learn that the pull tab on soda can tops was invented and made in Sidney, that parts made here are in every space shuttle and others are put into firefighting equipment that saves lifes across the land. Locally-made compressors power all kinds of businesses, from manufacturing plants to fast food restaurants. And those same restaurants use oil pressed here from Shelby County soybeans to cook the food they sell.
In “Moving a Nation,” Rick Reiss talks about his design work for Emerson Climate Technologies. Bob Sargeant, founder of Sidney Mfg., lauds his employees and reveals a secret about the good luck he had in establishing the business.
“The harder I worked, the luckier I got,” he says in the film.
The documentary praises the work ethic of Shelby County employees. Many of them learned on the county’s farms what it means to put in a hard day’s wor, their bosses say. Those farm boys have taken that understanding with them into the factories and it has served them well, say the leaders of Lochard’s, Air Handling Equipment, Wells Brothers, Cargill and Hi-Grade Oil.
Executives from Airstream, Honda, Rising Sun Express, Alvetro Orthodontics and Ron & Nita’s are some of the other people featured.
This film was six years in the making. There were 12 hours of raw footage shot and more than 2,500 still photos were taken with four different types of cameras: a drone for the aerial shots, a digital camera for the still photography, a Gopro for action shots and a video camera.
“You think of all the things we didn’t get in,” said GAC Executive Director Ellen Keyes. “I wish people could have followed us (filmmakers) around to hear all the stories. When (we went) in, they didn’t talk about how much money they’d made or how many units they made. They talk(ed) about hiring three more people. They talked about someone who retired with $1.2 million because of profit sharing. That’s unique to here.”
Keyes said the movie is a way to say, “Thank you,” to the workers of Shelby County.
“It’s time they got honor paid to them,” she said. “They should come to be thanked. I really hope when they leave, their shoulders are a little farther back, their heads are held high, and they’re proud of what they do. It makes a difference all over the world.”
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.