50 years of Scotchman ironworkers, Part 2 of 3
Wed, 08/02/2017 - 10:47am admin
As told by Scotchman in Industrial Machinery Digest
Part 2 of 3
Business Sense Leading to Metal Fabricating (From Junk Business, to Metal Fabricating) (You choose a Title!)
Prior to 1967, the heart and soul of the ironworking machine was the conventional flywheel-type design. During one of Art’s steel supply trips back and forth from Minnesota, Kroetch noticed an ad in the local newspaper about a Minnesota man’s invention for a hydraulic powered ironworking machine, the first ever of its kind. Intrigued, Kroetch contacted the man and a price was agreed upon to purchase the patent for this invention. With the design perfected, Kroetch and six full-time employees produced the first Scotchman Industries Ironworker in 1967.
That machine would alter the course of not only Kroetch’s career, but offer steady employment opportunities for the residents of Philip, South Dakota. Just as the highly efficient hydraulic pressure of his machines could fabricate metal to the customers needs, Scotchman helped mold the small town, Kroetch held dear to his heart, into a home for many hard-working American families.
An ironworker does exactly what the name implies: it works iron. It cuts, shapes, and punches holes in cold steel by using the tremendous pressure associated with hydraulics. What started with six employees, a new product and a vision, has evolved into a manufacturing powerhouse spanning 120,000 sq. ft., employing almost eighty people and manufacturing a variety of products serving the metal fabricating industry world-wide.
The ironworker was just the beginning in product development for the company. In 1983, Scotchman incorporated circular cold saws into its product line and also began distributing BEWO of Holland saws. In 1988, through a joint venture with BEWO, Scotchman began building the saws at their small factory in South Dakota, and in 1993 Scotchman purchased BEWO’s partnership interest. Today, Scotchman is the oldest and largest hydraulic ironworker manufacturer in the United States and the largest manufacturer of circular cold saws in North America.
A Legacy Left
Art left a legacy, in business and in life, and inspired many to believe in the American dream with hard work and remaining steadfast in their faith. In the lobby of the Scotchman Ind. manufacturing plant, there is a Scotchman ironworker, model 5014 CM, covered in signatures. This was the last machine built on July 3, 2007, the day Art Kroetch passed, the hundreds of signatures decorate the never-before-used ironworker, each one a cherished name of a life Art touched.
On that July day, in an extraordinary act of love and gratitude for the man who had built and led their company for fifty years, the employees of Scotchman banded together, donating their vacation time to purchase that Ironworker in tribute to the founder. This act of love was reflective of Art's own generous nature and kind spirit.
"It just happened to be the last machine built at the end of the day on the day he passed away," said Jerry Kroetch, Art's son and president of Scotchman Industries. He said the powerful gesture was incredibly special to all of Art's family.
"His family and employees always came first," Jerry said. "He treated all of his employees with the same respect that he wanted in return."
Words of wisdom from our founder, Art Kroetch – "The American Dream can still come true for those entrepreneurs who work long and hard to achieve their goals along with using their God-given talents to encourage the people around them to give their best to others. For this, they shall succeed in business, build friendships, and reap the rewards of this life as well as the next." (1989 South Dakota Small Business Person of the Year)