Community shows up to celebrate Scotchman’s 50th anniversary
Small town is home to big manufacturer of ironworkers
When a company hosts an open house in a town of about 750
people, you can expect a crowd. It’s sort of a big deal. When
that company is Scotchman Industries Inc. in Philip, S.D., it’s a
really big deal (see Figure 1).
The company, which has emerged as an exporter of hydraulic
ironworkers, invited the community to tour its facility on Sept.
26 and to celebrate the company’s 50th
anniversary. This was no typical open
house event as the community presence was very strong. During the tour,
visitors reached out numerous times to
shake the hands of Scotchman employees, who they knew either as family or
friends. One visitor even showed up to
see just what had become of the town’s
old bowling alley, which is the building
that now houses Scotchman’s administrative o;ices. (Scotchman loves its
hometown and bowling. In 2015 the
company helped with financing as a
new owner took over the town’s bowling alley, Rock ’N Roll Lanes.)
Today Scotchman has about 80 employees and manufactures 14 di;erent
models of ironworkers and a complete
line of circular cold saws. That wasn’t
the case 50 years ago when Art Kroetch,
father of Scotchman’s current president, Jerry Kroetch, introduced a 35-
ton hydraulic-powered ironworker (see
Figure 2). Back then he had only six
Art Kroetch, who died in 2007, is still
an important presence at the company
(see Figure 3).
“He may not still be here, but we
know that he’s still around,” said Gerry
Rislov, Scotchman’s vice president of
operations, in a film chronicling the
The way Scotchman has built its ironworkers over the years has changed
pretty dramatically. The shop nowadays is filled with state-of-the-art equipment that delivers precise execution
of manufacturing instructions and at a
volume that even the very skilled cra;s-man of the past could not keep up with.
For example, two Mazak machining centers are tended by an automated material removal and delivery mechanism. It
rides up and down a rail system, removing pallets with fixtures and accompanying parts and replacing those with
new pallets. In all, 28 pallets are used
to keep the high-volume machining
centers fed during work shi;s and a;er
hours, according to Brian Heltzel, plant
Brian Heltzel of Scotchman Industries Inc. ends a tour by showing visitors how an ironworker’s angle shear works.
As visitors to Scotchman’s 50th anniversary
celebration began their tours, they got to
see the evolution of the company’s hydraulic
ironworker, from the original 35-ton model
to its best-selling multifunctional, 50-ton
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