Popped corks are thought of for celebrations, special moments and congrats, but they’re also popular with craft hobbyists. A ProAct crew sorts them for sale before the coronavirus shutdown.

Delfina Selgado sorts corks for Stakkers in Mendota Heights.

“People make shoes out of them, bulletin boards, picture frames at wedding tables, all sorts of different things,” said Megan Iverson, general manager at Stakkers in Mendota Heights.

The task? Removing the synthetic corks from the real McCoy. ProAct Site Supervisor Rick Jirik said the rubber or synthetic corks feel more waxy.

Four cork loaded pallets with large boxes are whittled down for sorting, as large buckets are used to spread them on a wide table for inspection. Two-by-two boards line the edges and a funnel eases cork movement.

Aaron Baumbach is happily on task.

Wine and champagne brand names abound. The cork varieties are placed in pails and weighed, then loaded into bags numbering 50, 100 and 250.

Participant Theresa Hart said she prefers the quiet of this job to the drama of ProAct in Eagan. “Teamwork makes the dream work,” she said.

Another participant, Delfina Selgado, said the crew gets along well, and is great to work with.

Music plays in the background in a relaxed, inspection focused atmosphere. “These guys are pretty good at checking,” said Jirik.

Iverson’s business started in a garage, packing the corks with her nieces and nephews. As it grew, more help was needed.

The ProAct participants come in with “big, cheery ‘good mornings,’ and have fun free willed questions,” said Iverson. “Jeeze, it brings you back to the core of things and has been a real blessing for us.”

ProAct crews ranging from two to six people with a supervisor have helped the GM to free up regular staff for other business functions.
“It’s a great partnership for us,” she said.