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Gene Seipel and Midwest Machinery, Sauk Rapids

John Deere Dealership Using a Schweiss Hydraulic... powerful "One-Piece" Door!

It's big, 43,500 square feet. It has a special floral display unit out front courtesy of the employees and the general contractor. You walk into an 'eye catching' 100' x 160' 'Consumer Display' section complete with a 10' high shelf showcasing various John Deere 'consumer goods'. And greeting you at the retail counter is a colorful prairie scene with an old country barn, woodlots, fields of corn and wheat plus a depiction of the original 1-bottom plow that launched the John Deere machinery company. A show place of sorts? Yes, indeed.

Located at Sauk Rapids and scheduled for a December 3 & 4 'grand opening' this is the newest facility of Midwest Machinery Company. Explained Gene Seipel, General Manager, "This is the start of the Christmas shopping season so our consumer goods section will be full of John Deere toys, clothing, bikes, backyard barbeque tools, lawn and garden items, even Gators. We're making our grand opening a public event for both farmers and non-farmers."

Being next door to St. Cloud, this newest store touts lots of consumer goods such as small tractors, mowers, and garden tillage equipment. However, Seipel knows it's the farmtrade that pays most of the bills, so catering to both groups is key.

Headquartered in Glencoe, Midwest Machinery now has store locations in Howard Lake, Glenwood, Alexandria, Sauk Center, Paynesville, St. Cloud, Stewart and Princeton. Designing a new John Deere store sounds like a big challenge. Not so after you've done a few. Seipel did his Howard Lake store in 2006. The Glencoe store was built in 2007. However he scouted other John Deere stores four years prior to the Howard Lake store. "The layout of those two stores worked well so we're pretty much a repeat up here," he confided.

Starting in 1976, Seipel, age 60, is now a 34-year veteran of the farm machinery world. Before that he did a stint as an over-the-road semi driver, then on the road again this time selling fertilizer. His route included frequent passes by a John Deere dealership in Lincoln, NE.

"I grew up on a farm near Maryville, MO. I liked farming and always wanted to farm but our farm wasn't big enough for us boys to get into farming with Dad," explained Seipel. So one day on the fertilizer sales route he swung into that John Deere dealership at Lincoln. "I talked with the owner and simply asked if he needed someone in parts, sales, or whatever."

The owner said he needed a parts guy, which seemed strange to Seipel since the store already had two guys working in parts. "We talked a bit more. He hired me right then and there," he chuckled. Two weeks later he reported for work, but he worked alone. The two previous employees had been fired.

"I liked the work. I had already decided I wanted to eventually have my own store. But I didn't have any money so I worked three years at this Lincoln store. Then I switched to McKee Industries in Lincoln which manufactured John Deere snow blowers and hay stackers. But the hard times of the early 80's caught up with them.

"Next I worked for a John Deere dealership in Wayne, NE as a salesman thinking I could buy into that business eventually. But that wasn't working out so I talked with the area John Deere rep telling him I wanted to buy a John Deere store somewhere. That was 1981 and he started looking. In 1982 he told me he had a guy in Minnesota looking for a partner to run a John Deere store that he was about to buy.

"At that time John Deere didn't want him to run a John Deere store because he was still farming. So I got hooked up with him and we started looking for a store. Our first look was in Buffalo Center, IA but we didn't get that one. Later he called me on a Sunday morning asking me to drive to Tracy, MN because the John Deere store there was for sale. That was 1983.

"We made the deal on that Tracy store with my farmer friend becoming my 'silent partner.' He continued to farm. He had money and was a good silent partner. In 1987 we bought our second store in Slayton and that worked good too."

But Seipel got the itch once again and in 1994 he decided to sell out to his partner. Next calling was doing inventory control work for various John Deere stores, plus back to the semi-driving routine one weekend each month, plus getting into restoration of old John Deere tractors. "Life was good," he chuckled.

However in 2001, his current partners in Midwest Machinery, Charlie Swenson and Curt Weber, bought stores in Glencoe and Cokato, MN from a dealer going out of business. Related Seipel, "Charlie was a neighboring dealer to me in Tyler at that time so I knew Charlie quite well. He asked if I wanted to be a John Deere dealer again?"

Seipel said he held off, for a while. But finally in January 2002, he and his wife agreed to get back into the business as general manager and part owner with Swenson in the Glencoe and Cokato stores.

"We moved from Tracy to Glencoe which is where we now live. The third partner in Midwest Machinery, Curt Weber, was running the Glenwood, Sauk Centre, and Alexandria stores at that time. Later he and Charlie bought Paynesville. Next we had the opportunity to buy the McCormick Bros. operation at Stewart. Then in "05 the St. Cloud dealer retired so we bought that store." In 2007 this three-man cadre formed up as Midwest Machinery Company, the corporate structure today.

Seipel said when he first announced plans to build a new store in Sauk Rapids, he got flooded with contractors wanting to bid on the project. "I whittled it down to five general contractors bidding this project," said Seipel with his final choice being a Lakeville, MN construction firm because of the siding material he proposed.

Marty Kiehm, Kiehm Construction, was an experienced builder using a pressed steel/foam panel product that presented a very attractive 'finished' look to the entire facility. Plus this material speeded construction and the Kiehm bid was low dollar. Kiehm Construction finished the project a month early and under its initial bid. Included in this new building is an 18' x 30' Schweiss Hydraulic door at the south end of the 100' x 200' shop.

Related Seipel, "We knew about Schweiss. I had lived and worked 20 some years in southwest Minnesota so the Schweiss name was nothing new. So I suggested to Marty Kiehm that he get a price from Schweiss because I wanted to try something different. I'm totally satisfied with the results. We haven't had any issue with the Schweiss door."

The big 30' Schweiss hydraulic simply makes it easier to get big equipment, tractors with duals, combines, field cultivators, etc., in and out of the shop. Most combine headers come in a platform trailer so a wider door wasn't necessary. Seipel preferred the big hydraulic doors at both ends but his employees said 'no' because 'smaller lawn-mower and shop work' is done at just one end of the big shop. Big doors on both ends might create 'equipment congestion' they reasoned.

Midwest Machinery now has about 175 employees totally with 22 at the new Sauk Rapids store. "You can stick all sorts of money into a building, and have lots of different ideas on how to make the business go. But it always boils down to the quality of your people that are doing the work and meeting the people. We've got some great employees. You can't do anything without good people. We've got the best! That's what we hang our hat on," summed up Seipel.

There's lots of longevity in these Midwest employees also. Alvin Rechow, 73, is a tech mechanic at the Stewart store. Vern Hahn, 73, works sales at the Glencoe store. Plus there are several more in their 60's.

The Seipel family includes wife Barb, Leah, 30, Charlie, 28, Paul, 25, and John, 16. All three owners of Midwest Machinery have sons in the business, Andrew and Ben Swenson, Corey and Brian Weber, and Paul Seipel.

His take on the fall harvest and the 2010 year for farmers? "Better than average. We've had good growing conditions up here. Corn and soybean markets are surprisingly strong. I know that makes it tougher for the livestock guys. But I think farmers will be buying iron this winter partly to ease their tax situations. And I know our shops will be busy all winter getting their equipment repaired and ready for spring," concluded Seipel.

Midwest Machinery employs two full-time AMS (Agricultural Management Systems) technicians traveling all nine stores assisting with any GPS guidance issues, auto mapping, yield tracking, etc. Each store also has an AMS tech specialist to do 'on site' repairs as needed. Virtually all new John Deere tractors and combines are shipped with the electronic harnesses already in place but choice of adding a GPS system is still a customer's option. "About 90 percent of new rigs however now get equipped with a GPS system," said Seipel. His stores also provide 'add on' units that can be wired into any brand of equipment, and just about any age of equipment also.

Sidebar story on Kiehm Construction

A 70' x 100' aircraft hangar was Marty Kiehm's start in the construction world 32 years ago. Today Kiehm Construction Inc., Lakeville, MN, continues to do hangar and also office buildings, warehouses, industrial projects and specially designed environmentally controlled storage facilities. One of his nicest projects this season was the 43,500 square foot building which now houses Midwest Machinery Company's newest John Deere store at Sauk Rapids.

Growing up on a farm, Kiehm said he learned his work ethic from his father and grandfather. But getting into the construction world didn't happen until after earning a business degree in college.

This was his first John Deere store though he had previous construction work on a Case-IH store in Fairmont. Reflecting on the two stores already done by Midwest Machinery, Kiehm stated, "We basically tried to improve on what they had already done."

He describes his firm as a 'value engineering company' meaning they don't seek sub-contractors just because they work cheaper. "We look for qualified people that will do the project at a fair price. The fact that we brought this project in under budget and ahead of schedule is a tribute to our sub contractors. You can do all the managing you want but if you don't have the right crews doing the right things, you simply don't have a good project," said Kiehm.

Unique at this new John Deere store are the special walls utilizing a composite polyisocyanrate panel with R25 insulation value and a steel 'skin' both outside and inside. Kiehm calls it a structural wall panel presenting a clean, attractive look with far more durability than your typical metal panels. Purchased precut in various lengths depending upon placement location, this material is quicker and more easily installed, thus cutting costs appreciably. "Your in-place cost is about one third of precast. It's just a fantastic product," he said. His firm has nine years experience working with this product.

Working with Schweiss doors, either bifold or hydraulic, is 'old hat' for Kiehm who has done many aircraft hangars where the Schweiss bifold is traditionally the first choice of aircraft owners.

"This building called for a 20' clear height plus a 30' width so a Schweiss hydraulic was a perfect application," commented Kiehm who has done business with Schweiss for several years. "Everything seems to be top notch in their products, and if any service is needed, they react quickly. They just make certain all the bugs are worked out and when you're dealing in doors, that's a must." The Kiehm crew fitted the Schweiss door with the same panel material used in the walls of the building.

He also commented that doors, regardless of usage, have become much more a central feature of an entire building. Architects and contractors realize that outfits like Schweiss can build doors with virtually any design feature thus making the door both more functional and more attractive. "In essence the Schweiss people will customize your door to exactly the dimensions and artistic appeal you want," summed up Kiehm.

He sees this foam panel material as being a convenient and highly effective way to build more insulation value and structural integrity into both bifold and hydraulic doors while also presenting a more attractive appearance to the entire structure.


Sidebar item on 73-year old Alvin Rechow, 36 years as a John Deere mechanic.

He's a mechanic at John Deere, Stewart, MN. He's often fixing equipment for some third-generation John Deere customers. The good Lord willing, he intends to keep on being a John Deere mechanic. And when asked how he stays healthy, he simply responded, "I think that's the answer. If I had retired at 60 or 62 sitting around doing nothing, I maybe wouldn't even be around anymore. My job gets me lots of exercise. I'm moving around, up and down getting into combines and tractors. That I think is what's keeping me going." Talking is Alvin 'Alvie' Rechow, now a chipper 73 years old.

Alvie says his work history started his senior year in high school (1955) putting in his first 29 years at Johnson Hardware, Hector. "They closed in 1979 so I went out to the John Deere dealership at Stewart and I've been here ever since," he reflected noting that over the years John Deere has sent him to several 'training schools' to update on new mechanics, new diagnostic equipment and new procedures for getting the job done. "Plus you learn right here on the job too. There's lots more technology today but the John Deere equipment keeps getting better also. It's built stronger. It does so much more work for farmers."

Being a mechanic today means working on much heavier equipment. Chuckled Alvie, "When I first started it was setting up a 2-row planter, or fixing a 30 hp tractor. Now we're working on 35-foot headers, 16-row cornheads, 400 hp tractors, even 48-row planters. There's a world of bigness out there today."

Just maybe this generic fixture at the Stewart shop will get down to a five-day schedule this winter. But for now with harvest in high gear, it's six days a week for Rechow and his fellow mechanics. Alvie gets along well with the younger mechanics. They hired five new shop guys this year. They ask me some questions now and then. "They're a real good bunch of kids to work with," is his take on his younger colleagues. "I show them shortcuts on how to do certain jobs. Down the road they'll become real good John Deere mechanics."

And his advice to farmers? Stay on top of your maintenance and your equipment will keep on working said Alvie. "And each fall before that combine goes in the shed, clean out all the chaff. If you don't the mice will be in there chewing away on the electronic harnesses. That's a problem with more and more guys who don't blow out the chaff."

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That's how Opus One building's architect, Scott Johnson, described this California Napa Valley winery located between St. Helena and Napa, almost straight north of San Francisco, California. Johnson was part of the design team behind the whole footprint of the Opus One building expansion. The suggestion and actual design of the unique Schweiss bifold and hydraulic doors was recommended by Wayne Leong, of Leong Architectural firm in St Helena, Calif.
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Most every contractor at heart wants to do the best job for their customer. Sometimes that means going above and beyond the call and at other times being able to offer the best product for them.
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There's nothing cheap about building anymore but this project turned out wonderfully. The Schweiss door fits perfectly. We dressed up the shop and office area with some window shutter trim. Structural Building out of Becker, MN was the contractor and they did a great job
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It was a 70 ft. hydraulic door, very lightly built, it came in two sections that didn't meet together when they put it together. It showed up bent, and when raised it would bend, very poor weld quality, with welds missing in places. It was a piece of crap, I've never seen something so poor, there was no engineering done on it. There was no quality control.
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Jumping over the best
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RiverEdge Park and Music Garden is a venue that not many people in the United States have heard of yet, but they will. It is becoming the centerpiece in a 10-year master plan for the city of Aurora, Illinois, that state's second largest city with a population of close to 200,000 people, making it the 112th largest city in the United States. Aurora is located about 45 miles west of Chicago and is accessible by commuter train from there.
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With a Hydraulic Door you get a bunker wall when the building is full of grain and when the building is empty you still have a fully functioning door that gives you easy access to your grain and keeps your building secure from weather.
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Since Introducing "Red Power" Hydraulic Doors to the market this Spring, sales of Schweiss Hydraulic Doors have escalated, and as a result truckload-after-truckload of ready to assemble doors have been moving out to destinations within all corners of the United States and other locations around the globe.
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This eye catching farm shop is indeed a beautiful facility. All four exterior steel walls are white, however red is the accent color around the edges of this big hydraulic door, all windows in the door, plus other access doors into this incredible building.
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It's big, 60' wide and 104' long. It reaches 46' tall at the peak. It's got a big 40' x 16' hydraulic door neatly built into the front. Its 'country red.' Its handsome roofline is punctuated with two 4' x 4' cupolas and a widows peak. It also sports matching 16' wide 'lean-to's' on both sides of this beautiful country structure that looks like an 'old time country barn'. But barn it isn't.
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Twenty-seven years as an aerial applicator provides an historical perspective each spring for Rich Sigurdson, Olivia, MN. For cantankerous 2011 he simply responded,"This spring brought in a little more work than normal. This is the latest for putting crops in the ground since I've been in the business.
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Getting 146 doors installed at one location speaks rather strongly about the quality and reliability of your door provider. But that's the current scorecard of Schweiss BiFold doors at Fort Carson, Colorado (Colorado Springs) where Mortenson Construction (Denver branch) has an ongoing contract with the U.S. Army for the construction of special heated maintenance shops called TEMFs (Tactical Equipment Maintenance Facilities). This means structures big enough for Army tanks and other special military tactical vehicles.
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Why Schweiss? Perhaps the logic of Todd Halver, Marchmont Plantation Airpark, Advance, NC speaks for many. Said Halver, "I found out about Schweiss by just being around a few folks at airport hangars. So often Schweiss doors got into the conversation. Then I went to the Internet. I checked out a variety of hydraulic doors. The more I looked the more impressed I was with the information on Schweiss hydraulics. There are some second class manufacturers out there and the last thing I wanted was a bad experience.
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I researched over a year what I wanted to do. I met Dave Schweiss at the Florida 'Fun in the Sun' air show and both Dave and Mike at the big Oshgosh, WS show. After meeting the guys and looking more closely at their product the choice was obvious. It simply was the best fit, the best design, the best door and in terms of value, the best deal.
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Here are some shots of Fagen's warbirds. All mighty nice, mint condition airplanes! Just one of many unique planes that will be on display in the New Fagen Museum. It'll be the hot spot in Granite Falls, Minnesota to see some of the most beautiful Flying machines imaginable.
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Obviously a guy doesn't spend several thousand dollars for a big hydraulic door because it opens and closes in 37 seconds. But surprisingly 'door speed' is a bit of a factor, at least for Terry Albright, Renville County farmer who also runs a fleet of 'over the road' semi rigs.
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A slick, new 75' x 80' farm shop with special lighting, in-floor heating, a huge 40' door and a burgundy and beige color scheme is getting all sorts of attention on the farm of John Dulin, Kenton, Ohio. "The contractor that sold me the building has people coming here every week it seems to check out the building and especially that big hydraulic door. So it's a real treat for me and my farming partner son Dana, to show them the works," explained Dulin, who is also maintenance manager for six school buses in their local special education district.
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The Carriage House on the lakeshore property of Sid Morris, Cornelius, NC is very likely the most unique in America! It doesn't house horses and horse buggies. It doesn't house antique autos. Instead it houses his R44 helicopter. And that chopper gets to the Carriage House by first landing on a helio pad on the end of his 200' dock. A small electrically driven dolly then gently lifts the chopper with operator then guiding the chopper to its proper stall inside this remarkable 4-star carriage house.
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Schweiss doors continue to show up in unusual places, around the world. Arizona businessman Phil Kislak said his basic reason for going with Schweiss was simply the strong reputation of Schweiss doors throughout the aviation industry.
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At 27 years of age, film maker/artist/author Travis Wood appears to be adding architectural design to his intriguing resume. Evidence of this new dimension is a most unique structure, a combination studio/guest house that he and his father are constructing on their vacation property on Martha's Vineyard, hugging the south shore of Massachusetts.
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Hugging the southwest corner of Long Island, New York, Brooklyn's earlier identity was mostly hitched to Coney Island beach and the Brooklyn Dodgers of baseball immortality. Today the city is enjoying a renaissance of rediscovery by artists, retailers, ambitious contractors and creative landscapers including the Andre Kikoski Architect firm which just wrapped up the complete renovation of two empty, abandoned warehouse buildings on 22-28 Wyckoff Ave.
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Consolidation is that aggressive word which has been enveloping agricultural business for several years now. In simple terms, it results in fewer but bigger. And that certainly is the recent history of the farm implement business, which used to pride itself on having eight, 10, even 12 or more dealerships per county. Today three or four farm equipment dealers per county is more the usual. But ownership of farm implement stores today often includes multiple locations throughout an entire state.
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Flying since he got the bug when working the fishing canaries in Alaska, Eric Hutchins, Grand Rapids, MN, has a rather diversified agenda these days. For example he runs a year-round Dairy Queen in this bustling tourist center town. He also does some part-time law enforcement work and occasionally flies fire detection with the MN DNR. When time permits, high on his agenda is getting together with his snowmobile buddies for a few miles through the beautiful lake and woodland country of Itasca County. And of course cranking up his Bellanca Scout for an aerial view of this lake-country landscape only adds to the pleasure of making life work for Hutchins.
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In September of 2009, we started the rehabilitation of Hanger 155 at Chippewa County International Airport in Kincheloe, MI. Our first step was to remove 60 years worth of lead paint from the existing steel substructure and miles of asbestos-containing material. When the building was safe to work in, our demolition subcontractor started on the roof system.
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It's big, 43,500 square feet. It has a special floral display unit out front courtesy of the employees and the general contractor. You walk into an 'eye catching' 100' x 160' 'Consumer Display' section complete with a 10' high shelf showcasing various John Deere 'consumer goods'. And greeting you at the retail counter is a colorful prairie scene with an old country barn, woodlots, fields of corn and wheat plus a depiction of the original 1-bottom plow that launched the John Deere machinery company. A show place of sorts? Yes, indeed.
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Well, it's all of the above for 62-year-old Daniel Shaw, a plumbing contractor at Geneva, Fla. Who has given new meaning to the term "hangar home." The structure is 50' wide x 60' deep x 30' tall, all metal/ However, a 45' x 15' Schweiss hydraulic door sporting a wrap-around porch with decorator railing, table and chairs, a "walk through" door with stylish window, and veranda "roof" gets your attention.
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Schweiss Hydraulic and Bi-fold Doors recently installed four new hydraulic doors at the Renville County Fairgrounds located in Bird Island, MN. The Renville County Board approached Schweiss looking for a way to open up the event building located at the county's fairgrounds. The event building is used to host live bands, beer gardens and public auctions by Henslin Auction Services. Hydraulic doors seemed like the perfect solution to open up the building and allow easy access to the building for large groups of people.
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Schweiss Doors, the rural Minnesota Company that introduced the patented Lift-Strap opening/closing mechanism and today is the acknowledged No. 1 builder of hydraulic and bifold doors for agriculture and the aviation industry, is flexing its muscle once again. The powerful hydraulic doors are the newest product from Schweiss. The farm and construction industry is likely to welcome this new Schweiss package.
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We're no longer just selling iron. Today we're selling precision farming products and that requires special training of both our personnel and our farm customers," says Paal Haug, general manager of Haug Implement with stores at Willmar and Litchfield
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The creativity of customers continues to be a driving force for many manufacturers. Take for example North Star Imaging, Inc., a Rogers, Minnesota manufacturer of industrial x-ray systems which are enclosed by a radiation shielding cabinet and access door and used by manufacturing firms in the aerospace, military, automotive, medical device, electronics, even the genetic seed industry and many more.
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Never try to beat a man at his own game was the advice of Jim Hinton, father of Randy Hinton, General Manager of the 'Red Power' Case/IH Team of northern Iowa. That was back in 1971 when Randy and his Dad were just trying to get a toehold in the farm equipment business with their 'start up' store in Bancroft, IA. Today that Red-Power Team has expanded to five more Case/IH stores in Corwith, Manson, Humboldt, New Hampton, and Mason City, a 370-mile round-trip journey. Randy Hinton now takes a slightly different twist to his Dad's advice. His business mantra today: If you're going to survive in today's world, you'd better be ready to expand.
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How do you make the loading dock area for your store secure, yet still easily accessible and stylish? This Target store in North Carolina found the answer with two 39' x 17' bifold gates for their loading area. Give us your idea and we will get you the door.
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What looked like a near impossible situation without some totally new engineering design instead turned out to be a remarkable solution to an extreme challenge. The challenge? How to fit a "roof door" over a 20' by 30' sandblasting chamber used by SMS Millcraft, Oil City, PA. This firm specializes in refurbishing component parts for various Pennsylvania steel mills.
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Now a sprightly 70-years-old, Wally Vorwerk, rural Gibbon, said he became a 'tractor nut' when he was six years old and his Dad let him drive their 9N Ford tractor. Today Vorwerk has 14 Ford tractors plus at least a dozen other rigs of various colors, sizes, and nameplates, all beautifully restored and sporting fresh paint.
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It is rare that an Air Tractor dealership changes hands. It cant be done without an approval from Air Tractor, Inc. This requirement became all too apparent to Bill Taylor of Farm Air in Fairfield Illinois. Bill was starting to think about retiring from the business he formed in 1976. Shortly after forming Farm Air, Bill saw a need for Air Tractors in the Midwest, and approached Air Tractor about becoming a dealer. Over thirty successful years later, Bill decided it was time to sell Farm Air with its Air Tractor dealership intact.
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WOW !!!! I like the new photo of the day! That is so cool how that customer has his livingroom mirrored like that! Even the painting on the wall... They had two paintings done, one to mirror the other! very cool! At first I thought it might be photoshopped since the right side is a 100 percent identical mirror image to the left... But then I thought... Why would an upstanding business alter photos, but now I truly understand Schweiss does think out of the box for and with their customers to keep their product on the cutting edge in the door world. Let me say this, your product is "hotter" than anyone could imagine, hands down Schweiss is The Door Leader so I know it's real! Anyway... Very cool! Can't wait to see the next one! Tommy
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This custom set of Schweiss Bi-Fold Doors was the perfect solution to provide a unique dining experience for this restaurant's patio bar customers.
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Marv Rubingh of Ellsworth, Michigan converted his 23-ft. tall, 62-ft. diameter Slurrystore into a shop. Built in 1979, it was still structurally sound. Rubingh started thinking about converting it even before he stopped using it for manure storage.
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Photo of the hangar door built in 1900 to house the Wright Brother's various gliders and aircraft at Kitty Hawk. What was started over 100 years ago has been taken to the next level by Schweiss Hydraulic Doors. The "one piece door" was the Wright Brother's choice, make the Schweiss Door your choice!
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