Mason Brothers trio leave their mark on the business

Recent job changes and retirements bring significant swing in staff at the major employer in Wadena.

Shelby Cooper works on one of her last cakes of the day on Wednesday, June 30, after 18 years of cake decorating at Mason Brothers in Abby's Bakery. She's moving on to her new role as owner of Over the Rainbow Floral. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

The last day of June marked a turning point for several women exiting Mason Brothers after long careers at the location.

For Shelby Cooper, the day marked her last after 18 years in the cake decorating department. She came in as a cake decorator having known the job from a previous position at SuperValu. She recalls her first training prior to coming to Mason Brothers was one hour long. She picked up a thing or two since then and exits as the cake decorator supervisor.

Shelby Cooper readies another cake for delivery in the cake decorating room at Mason Brothers, Wednesday, June 30, 2021. It was her last day on the job. She's moving on to the next big journey of operating Over the Rainbow Floral in Wadena. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

She left Wednesday still cranking out cakes with ease and finesse. A recent busy day had her decorating 110 cakes with care. She's likely completed hundreds of thousands over her career. And she not only can still look at the cakes, she said she still likes the frosting. That says a lot as there's about 700 pounds of the sweet stuff passing through the decorator work stations each day.


Cooper, a Wadena resident, saw the change from a small decorating room to a large expansion with room for a whole team of cake decorators. She's even gone outside those four walls and helped set up food shows and food sets at stores. While they used to be able to come in at 5 a.m. to complete orders, it's now more like 2-3 a.m. to make the truck delivery times.

"My role has changed a lot in these 18 years," Cooper said.

While it might be easy to give up the 2 a.m. schedule starts, leaving behind her family of coworkers was a tough change for Cooper.

"They are a great family," Cooper said. "It's an amazing company to work for. It's like a big family. I mean you've got people who have worked here for 60 years."

Cooper is not near retirement yet. Her leaving Mason Brothers is only to allow her take over her new position as owner/operator of Over the Rainbow Floral in Wadena. In fact, she transitioned from Mason Brothers on Wednesday, straight into the floral business on Thursday. She said she's excited about the opportunities to grow in that business alongside her daughter, who plans to help.

Also leaving on Wednesday was Karlene Snyder, who's been in cost accounting for nine years at Mason Brothers. She's been in accounting most of her life, some 50 years and said it just seemed like the right time to retire. She added that she's enjoyed the family of people she's been able to work with while there.

Karlene Snyder, cost accountant for Mason Brothers, works her final day on the job, Wednesday, June 30, 2021.


Her future plans involve a move to Little Falls to be closer to her grandchildren. She also hopes to travel, see more of her family and just relax.

Another staff member who has left her position but has remained on until her replacement can be found is graphic designer Jessi Hubbard. Hubbard has been the brains behind many of the signs that show off the Mason Brothers products throughout their assortment of locations in the Midwest. She's also been with Mason Brothers for nine years, leaving on the same date she was hired, May 21.

Hubbard is not yet reaching retirement, rather she is reaching a point where her own business, TJ Creations , is growing to the point where she needs to start putting more energy into it. In that business based in Miltona, Hubbard and her husband Terrance create custom items of all kinds (from bean hole boards to interior signage) using a laser engraver and printer that shows off her amazing graphic design skills.

Graphic designer Jessi Hubbard cuts out a banner for Abby's Bakery on Wednesday, June 30, 2021, at Mason Brothers. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

With three people in the graphics department, and no replacement yet found, Hubbard continues to do contract work for Mason Brothers then head home and continue her entrepreneurial endeavors. She cares about the work so much she doesn't want them to be without the quality work they need.

"There's a lot of potential and I haven't had a ton of time to dedicate to it," Hubbard said. She looks forward to that home business being her main focus in the near future.

While the three ladies all work on opposite sides of the Mason Brothers complex in Wadena, all shared a common feeling of genuine love and pride in the work that they have done for the company. They also all recognized that they were one big family in the end, looking to each other for help at times and looking to leave the company better than they found it.

Michael Johnson is the news editor for Agweek. He lives in rural Deer Creek, Minn., where he is starting to homestead with his two children and wife.
You can reach Michael at or 218-640-2312.
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