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Schweiss History

History of Schweiss Bifold Doors


Ideas come from the darndest places! Take for example the birth of Schweiss Doors, rural Fairfax, MN, which today has thousands of its unique bifold and hydraulic doors providing quick, quiet and effortless entry to airplane hangers, commercial buildings and farm sheds across America and other parts of the world.

Owner Mike Schweiss relates, "It was 1980. I was at a wedding dance. A friend commented, 'Mike, you build lots of different things. Why not a door that folds up?"

Ironically, that very person died of a heart attack that same evening. But his idea didn't!

At that time, Schweiss and his three employees were manufacturing things like farrowing crates for sows, snow blowers, farm trailers, tile plows and can you imagine something called the Schweiss Chicken Plucker!

He chuckles, "It was the Chicken Plucker that gave us name recognition, and in fact got us going financially." His first Bi-Fold door measured 12 x 12, and was installed on a Renville County Highway shed, 10 miles from Mike's country factory location. The door is still in operation even though Schweiss admits, "We made it wrong every which way."

Today Schweiss manufactures three styles of doors: 1) the famous lift-strap bifold door, 2) The "One Piece" Schweiss hydraulic Door, and 3) Schweiss Designer Doors. And indeed Schweiss doors are traveling worldwide from Africa, Russia, Asia to Europe and beyond. Three Schweiss hydraulic units were shipped to Shanghai, China in February to be fitted as 'window walls' for a luxury restaurant in a new $250 million Ritz-Carlson Hotel.

The Schweiss Lift-Strap System utilizes nylon web material, which quietly wraps on a take-up spindle when the start-stop button activates an electric motor. Tensile strength of each nylon strap is 29,000 lbs. Straps are quiet, clean, quick, rust-free, durable and longer lasting than steel cables.

Schweiss Doors is one of about ten Hydraulic & Bifold door manufacturers nationwide, but only Schweiss has the patented nylon strap system. And size isn't an issue. Our biggest bifold door to date is a massive 140' wide facility. Our biggest single project: 145 doors, each 12' x 40', for T-hangers at Bult Field near Chicago, a new privately owned airfield.

Creating tremendous interest within the construction and architectural industry is the new Schweiss Hydraulics. Builders like the clean, yet rugged design of this new and improved product from Schweiss Manufacturing. Heavy-duty hydraulic cylinders provide super stability, spherical bearings for longevity and grease zerks on every heavyduty wraparound hinge. As one builder commented, "Hydraulic doors with the Schweiss name, it doesn't get any better."


Schweiss created a new world of interest with architects and builders with a marketing slogan stating: 'You Think It, We'll Build It.' Today Schweiss doors can be ordered with walk-through 'designer doors', single or double insulated windows, remote radio controlled capability, photo eye sensors for emergency stop situations, virtually any 'skin' material, be it metal, aluminum, glass, redwood siding, slate, or stucco. And of course matching colors to correlate with the existing main structure. Doors can also be custom cut to follow the roofline to gain extra headroom. A 50' Schweiss Hydraulic for a unique Florida 'Hangar Home' was specially designed with 4' trusses to accommodate a full-width patio deck and veranda roof. Open this amazing hydraulic door and the entire patio deck sweeps up.

Today the aviation industry claims about 75% of the total sales of Schweiss Manufacturing, which now employs about 62 people full-time. That ratchets up to about 76 on a seasonal basis when the Ag market kicks in. Because farm equipment gets bigger and bigger, Schweiss Doors find a comfortable niche with U.S. farmers building new machine sheds for their huge farm equipment. Door heights are now up to 20', and can be remotely controlled from tractor, pickup or combine cabs.

Costs vary depending upon the door size and options with current costs at $110-$130/linear foot. This includes installation, which typically is a 1-day process for a two-to-three men Schweiss crew that delivers the door.

Why the continued sales strength for Schweiss doors? Having a good product obviously deserves credit. The private aviation sector is still going strong for Schweiss Doors during the current world recession and we keep picking up tempo.

"When Piper, Cessna, and others started building small planes again, our business with airport operators and airport builders really took off," relates Schweiss, himself a licensed pilot owning a Cherokee Six hangered at Hector, MN, eight miles from the Schweiss operation. The Hector Airport is frequently used by aviators and business people flying in to visit the Schweiss factory.

Today business is brisk for Schweiss Doors with both national and international sales including distributors outside the United States. "The long-term future of our industry is strong. Better, quicker, quieter and safer door openings have a bright future," concludes Schweiss.

Schweiss Computer Programmers and Inventory Control Managers developed a unique computer program that details steel components, hinges, nuts, bolts and total hardware of each door. A computer printout of each order goes to electrical, steel, and welding crews in the various buildings of a 26-acre manufacturing facility, so each worker knows precisely what hardware is needed for each door as it moves through the assembly process. Doors are built as ordered so inventory is minimized.

Lead Salesperson, Julie Schafer coordinates telephone and Internet generated sales. About 15 percent of sales activity is now Internet sourced, but the majority of our leads are driven from satisfied door customers.

Give us a call at 507-426-8273.

articles and information


Kenyon College Athletic Complex glass Bifold doors light up the huge building

"I wouldn't have any problem recommending a Schweiss Bifold door to anyone in the construction industry. The materials in the door, the construction accuracy, even the on-site training they..."

San Francisco Giants AT&T baseball stadium bifold door provides access and security

"Not only does the morning coffee shop jump start your day, it can also jump start your creative juices. At least it did for Sade Borghei, designer with Holt Hinshaw, a San Francisco architectural firm..."

Red Bull Headquarters in California remodels with glass Schweiss Designer Liftstrap Door

"Red Bull North American headquarters, Santa Monica, CA, can proudly boast of having the largest indoor/outdoor skateboard platform. And rightly so. Skateboarding is the 'energizing' sport theme of this major provider of Red Bull, now acknowledged as..."

Shaw Hangar Home features moving porch Schweiss Hydraulic Door Wall

"The interior represents a quaint European street scene complete with hotel entrance and second floor walk-out balcony. To the left, there's a working tavern with bar stools and a false-front ice cream store..."


Shaw Hangar Home is the ultimate in Schweiss Designer Door creativity

"The interior represents a quaint European street scene complete with hotel entrance and second floor walk-out balcony. To the left, there's a working tavern with bar stools and a false-front ice cream store..."

Hurricane Katrina

"Touching base with a hurricane survivor can be both grizzly and great. Aerobatic pilot Johnny Smith, Lucedale, Mississippi and his young family were survivors, as were his airplanes, thanks to their new 'hangar home' built to withstand 90 mile per hour winds, in fact even the 125 mile-per-hour blast of Hurricane Katrina..."

Hurricane Rita

"This is our hanger door in Canton, Texas at Tailwind Airpark. We were on the northwest edge of Hurricane Rita and the door took straight-on wind forces off the storm. The one piece hydraulic door was still perfect after the storm. We like the hydraulic door because we could keep a lower profile opening and this kept the residential look we were seeking on this airpark house..."


Maryland Horse Arena has Schweiss Bifold "window walls" that open to outside world

"Ten Schweiss bifolds, each with 18' vertical clearance, make creature comforts possible, both winter and summer. The ten bifolds totally enclose three of the four walls of the arena..."


Morristown Airport 80 ft. liftstrap bifold hangar door keeps up with airport expansion

"Weighing in at 16,000 pounds and measuring 80' x 27', Schweiss bifolds were the choice of several hangars that were part of a Varco Pruden real estate development project at the Morristown Municipal Airport, Morristown, New Jersey..."


Stengel Farms Ag building and Schweiss Door Submitted for 'I Built the Best' Contest

"It's hard to tell who is most pleased with the new shop at E&M Farms Inc. near Milbank, S.D. - the owners, Milt Stengel and his son Scott, or Milt's uncle Leonard. "It's quality all the way through," says Leonard..."

Ross Farms Agriculture 60 ft. bifold door workshop is big enough for Concord air seeder

"We have a 47-foot Concord air seeder and wanted a door big enough so this rig could be pulled directly into the shop without being concerned about wiggle room. Thanks to that 60-foot door, getting in and out with big equipment is a piece of cake," related Jim Ross..."


Bult Airfield modernized with 132 Schweiss Liftstrap/Autolatch Bifold T-Hangar doors

"Schweiss Bifold Doors, a Minnesota manufacturer acknowledged as the major builder of the bifold door design, was the door of choice for all 132 hangars. The bifolds included 68 doors each 12 ft. x 41 ft. wide; 32 doors each 14 ft. x 44 ft. wide; and 30 doors, each 14 ft. by 47 ft. wide..."

Deluxe Condominium T-Hangars are highlighted with amenities and Liftstrap Bifold doors

"The eight similar sized hangars and the four larger hangars near the center of the building all have 44-foot Schweiss bifold doors. On each end are two large hangars, with 58-foot doors built to accommodate large twins and small corporate jets..."


Schweiss 'Brandname' Hydraulic & Bifold Liftstrap Doors escalate company sales worldwide

"Founded in 1980 Schweiss Bifold Doors today is acknowledged as the country's leading manufacturer of bifolds with sales throughout the United States, Canada, Asia, and Europe..."

From small farm homestead roots Schweiss Doors grows to international door giant

"As the Schweiss Bifold door became more widely accepted for use in aircraft hangars and agricultural buildings. Today, thousands of doors have been installed across the US and internationally."

SolidWorks cutting edge technology boosts Schweiss door drafting and designing division

"SolidWorks is a tremendous time saver for Schweiss engineers. Plus this newer technology virtually eliminates production errors. This new system keeps delivery within a much tighter time frame. It designs even more structural strength into Schweiss doors..."

Are you considering a Bifold Door? Here are some informative Schweiss Door tips

"We've listened to architects, contractors, and potential buyers, about what they expect when looking at bifolds. And we've learned. Below are a few issues if you consider going bifold..."

Schweiss Does it Better!