Blenker Employees Praised For Milestones at ‘80s Murder Mystery Night

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Blenker, the wood framed manufacturing company of Amherst, Wisconsin, celebrated their employees’ milestones with a Clue inspired ‘80s murder mystery themed dinner party Saturday, April 8 at Shooters in Plover, Wisconsin.

Employees with five and 10 years of service to Blenker were recognized and employees were nominated for a 2016 Employee of the Year award. Blenker employees submitted their nominations for these awards based on a set of criteria and then, a select group chose who got awarded.

The nominations of this award went to Donn Arnott, production carpenter, Kyle Halter, multimedia design specialist, Craig Littleton, production supervisor, Rick Martin, director of project management and Craig Winkler, maintenance technician. Winkler was honored with the 2016 Employee of the Year award.

“I always strive to help out my fellow employees and find it truly heartwarming that they have honored me,” Winkler said. “It’s truly humbling to be honored this way and look forward to the challenge to push myself to try and earn the privilege again next year.”

Winkler also received the 10 year milestone award as did Larry Stanislowski, truss designer. The five year milestone award went to Neil Altman, shipping/receiving supervisor, Josh Boomer, accounting manager, Jeff Burling, project coordinator, Greg Ernst, class A CDL driver, J.J. Hein, field crew carpenter, Littleton and Bryan Marsch, production supervisors.

“I see this milestone as the start of a long and rewarding relationship with Blenker Companies, Inc.,” Boomer said.

As a result of reaching these milestones, employees received a pullover or jacket, which stated their name and years of service as well as a plaque and a gift of money.

Employees were rewarded in other ways that evening for making the ‘80s murder mystery fun for all attendees. At this dinner, employees were expected to solve a mystery surrounding a fictional ‘80s rock icon named Poison Ratenstein.

Keith Rasmussen, estimator, said the thing that surprised him the most was that the dinner started with the murder of Johnny Diamond, M.C. for the show and finished with another murder, the death of Muffy, a Ratenstein groupie.

“I mean the whole thing was kind of new and exciting and everybody got to play a part, and the other people got to decide who was the killer,” Rasmussen said. “It was kind of like Clue, but with totally different characters.”

The suspects of the murder were at each dinner table and these characters were named Dr. Joe King, Trisha Hughes, Joan Jumbo Jet, Cindy Leapyear, Pat Minotaur, Muffy and Skull.

“We had a book to follow that had three pages and each page would give you a little more background information and clues,” Rasmussen said, who played King. “It was just a lot of fun.”

This booklet contained information about each suspect and included their biography, their occupation and their relationship to Ratenstein.

Party attendees then went around to each of the tables and interrogated each suspect, bribing them with fake money so they could answer their questions about the murders.

At the end of the night, the detective asked the tables to solve the murder.

“We threw quite a few names around and finally we came upon one name and kind of figured out all of our clues,” Gary Genskow, shipping/receiving coordinator said.

The detective revealed at the end of the night that the murderer was Leapyear. Leapyear was an electrician and had electrocuted Diamond with his headphones and then Leapyear had stabbed Muffy out of anger and jealously because she didn’t want anyone to share her love for Ratenstein.

Ironically, the table whose suspect was Leapyear received the Dead Last Place award, while the Detective of the Night award went to Genskow’s table, who solved the mystery.

“I wasn’t actually in the murder mystery, but my character was Billy Strangelove from the ‘80s, a hard rock guitarist,” Genskow said.

Genskow said what made it fun was this opportunity to socialize and network with employees he didn’t know from Blenker and also a fun way to show off his ‘80s spirit with his costume.

He said it took him about a week and half to figure out his costume and through a good friend of his, he borrowed a wig and sunglasses, along with other stuff he had around the house to complete the outfit.

“Being recognized as the best dressed character there made me feel proud, made me feel happy and appreciated,” Genskow said.

Lakota Malcolm, production carpenter, was also pleased with the outcome of the event, the people who participated and all the work that went into the event to make it fun for everyone.

“I actually had an excellent time,” Malcolm said. “We got picked to be actors. I was actually one of the main actors involved in the event and it turned out better than I thought it would have and it was a great time.”

Malcolm, who played Skull during the ‘80s murder mystery, received the award for Best Actor from The Murder Mystery Co.

“I was actually ecstatic that I won an award, I wasn’t expecting to go there and be a part of the murder mystery at all,” Malcolm said. “So, I just tried to kill that part and just make everyone seem like I’m the biggest, baddest guy around.”

Jenny Knutson, cabinet specialist, who has organized the employee recognition event for Blenker since 2005, said this is the first year she planned the spring fling with an ‘80s murder mystery theme.

“I personally was excited to see everyone participate and make new connections within the company,” Knutson said. “I look forward to and can’t wait for next year!”