Published: August 25, 2020

Oldest local business appears reborn

The only Coeur d’Alene business that’s been around longer than the Coeur d’Alene Press?

Glad you asked. It’s Hecla Mining Company.

A spry 129 years old, Hecla’s got the local fish wrap beat by less than a year. Both businesses have seen good times and bad times. Both are still here because they adapted to societal changes in delivering products the public needs.

In Hecla’s case, that public is worldwide. The silver, zinc and lead mined from the Lucky Friday outside Mullan is integral to modern appliances, vehicles and yes, even to the batteries that harness the wind and solar energy. One of the oldest industries on the planet is key to unlocking the future survival of the planet: Developing more effective and efficient renewable resources. That’s a marriage many never saw coming.

But it’s Hecla’s marriage to Coeur d’Alene, to the Silver Valley and to the state of Idaho we’re spotlighting in this issue. You already know that the company endured a bitter, expensive three-year miners strike. But were you aware that the company’s rebound just since January is nothing short of astonishing?

With miners on strike, salaried employees did whatever was needed at the Lucky Friday, and apparently, they did it well. They won prestigious safety and environmental awards. They not only kept the lights on, but they brilliantly set the stage for outstanding financial performance in Q2.

While strikes leave scars that never completely go away, they also can serve as a somewhat natural purge. In Hecla’s case, many of the unhappy miners didn’t come back after the strike was settled. While that’s probably good for them, it’s clearly proving beneficial to Hecla, where employees more universally embrace the company’s culture and its emphasis on continually training and improving in a rapidly changing industry.

That’s a pretty good lead for a local newspaper to follow.