50 years of Scotchman ironworkers, Part 1 of 3
Wed, 08/02/2017 - 10:44am admin
As told by Scotchman in Industrial Machinery Digest
Part 1 of 3
Firmly rooted in tradition, with an eye on the future, Scotchman Industries, Inc., is celebrating its hydraulic ironworker’s 50th birthday this year. It’s been half a century since Scotchman debuted its hydraulic-powered ironworker and we are honored to have served the manufacturing industry in America and abroad over the years. Although five decades have passed since Arthur A. Kroetch founded the company, Scotchman has remained committed to building high-quality dependable products, providing first-class customer service and believing in the strength of American manufacturing.
Founded in 1967, Scotchman introduced its industry revolutionizing product, the 35-ton hydraulic-powered ironworker, with only six employees. Today, employing almost 80 people, Scotchman manufactures 14 different models of ironworkers, ranging from 45-tons to 150-tons in three distinctive styles; as well as a complete line of circular cold saws.
Manufacturing in America's Heartland
Most often, the success or failure of a business may depend as much on fate as it does on ingenuity, hard work, and business sense. A combination of these things has led Scotchman Industries, Inc. to becoming one of the largest manufacturer of the hydraulic ironworker in the United States.
Located in the middle of western South Dakota, Scotchman Industries did not start out manufacturing ironworkers, but eventually evolved into that business thanks to the determination and foresight of one man: Art Kroetch, Philip.
Art Kroetch’s roots run deep in (Scotchman’s hometown) Philip. Born the oldest of five siblings on a ranch about 20 miles northwest of town. He attended a rural country school until he graduated from the eighth grade. To help earn additional income for his parents, Art entered the workforce and the school of hard knocks after finishing the eighth grade.
Art admitted that in his early years he was a bit of a wanderer. Art and his wife, Eleanor, were married in June 1950, and Art was drafted that summer. After leaving the military in 1952, Art supported his family with a custom haying business. In their first six years of marriage, the longest time spent in one place was only six months.
How Scotchman Got Its Name
Kroetch “settled down” in 1956 when he purchased an automobile junk yard in Philip, known as Art’s Salvage. If you’ve ever been to a junkyard, you know they never throw anything away, it was that conservative characteristic that led Art into the next phase of his business career.
Shortly after purchasing the junkyard dealership, Kroetch went into the business of selling bulk insecticide to keep pests off cattle. Without a convenient way to apply the chemical to the cattle, Kroetch put his brain to work.
Utilizing his stockpile of used automobile drive shafts, Kroetch created a way for cattle to easily apply their own insecticide, by rubbing against a drive shaft that was wrapped in burlap and coated with insecticide. The cattle oiler was small, did not use much of the chemical, and freed up the ranchers to do other tasks. Kroetch named this invention and his new business the Wick-o-Matic Oiler Company.
Kroetch, and his newly-named company, sold over 60,000 cattle oilers throughout a several state region. When the insecticide was discontinued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Kroetch began to focus on his other products, which became the staples of Little Scotchman’s business in the early 1960s. Art built and sold farm related products such as portable corrals, gates, chutes and pickup stock racks. These products were “pretty thrifty” like the Scottish people, and so they changed the name to Little Scotchman Industries.
In the mid-1970s when XL Manufacturing was purchased, business grew and was no longer “little.” Little was dropped from the name and Scotchman Industries was born, as it’s known throughout the world today.