By KALI THIEL
SHEBOYGAN — After three failed flagpole attempts, Acuity Insurance officials will try again on the north end of the company’s Sheboygan property.
Work on the 400-foot pole is underway and scheduled to be complete by late May or early June. The towering pole, which will be 60 feet taller than the previous one, will be 11 feet in diameter at its base and will fly a 60-by-120-foot flag.
When completed, it officially will be the tallest flagpole in North America, outdistancing a 308-foot pole in Laredo, Texas, Sheboygan Press Media reported.
The company’s first flagpole was 150 feet tall and was erected in June 2003 in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The pole was raised to 200 feet in 2004 but toppled during a storm on New Year’s Eve that year.
Two more poles followed, each taller than 300 feet. One pole, dedicated July 1, 2005, was taken down in 2007, and the other, a 338-foot pole erected in April 2008, was removed just months later.
Acuity President and CEO Ben Salzmann said the company is trying again because people asked for it.
“Honestly, after the last flagpole, we had decided we were done, and the public demanded it so much that it caused us to take another run,” Salzmann said. “We have gotten thousands and thousands of requests to put this flagpole back up.”
Salzmann said he and Sheri Murphy, vice president of services and administration, made the decision to take down the last two flagpoles over concerns about the structural integrity of the poles, especially after the latter was swaying in the wind.
This time around, the company does not expect the same problems, Murphy said.
The new pole is being manufactured at Broadwind Towers and Heavy Industries in Manitowoc, and this time all the welding is being done inside and under the quality control of Broadwind’s staff members, Murphy said. A third party then will review the pole, she said.
Acuity has more than a dozen architects and contractors working on the project. Among them is Arup, an international engineering firm that is working on what will be the world’s tallest flagpole in the Middle East and that has worked on other projects such as the Dublin Spire and the retractable roof on Miller Park. The firm will be the third-party reviewer of the entire project, Salzmann said.
Just as with the previous design, the new flagpole will have a veterans memorial at the base of and will include the names of every Sheboygan County veteran killed in the line of duty.
Salzmann declined to disclose the exact cost of the project, but said “it’s less than a penny per insurance policy per year.”
Acuity is in the process of a more than $130 million construction project that will add approximately 260,000 square feet to its Sheboygan headquarters. The project includes a 65-foot permanent Ferris wheel inside the building and an enclosed theater in the round made to seat 2,000 people.
To those who would argue the flagpole is yet another in a line of extravagant additions to the Acuity workplace, Salzmann said the company’s record speaks for itself.
“We’re hiring over 100 new college grads every year,” Salzmann said. “It’s the zip line, it’s the Ferris wheel, it’s the flagpole, it’s the overall camaraderie in the company.
“You only get that type of talent by creating that type of workplace.”
Information from: Sheboygan Press Media, http://www.sheboygan-press.com