Greater focus

A South Dakota-based machine maker takes a custom approach to meeting customer needs


When Art Kroetch founded Scotchman Industries in 1967, he took a personalized approach – offering in-house visits to potential customers and giving them a hands-on experience with his

Scotchman’s specialists offer high-speed steel blade sharpening services, which includes completely re-toothing the blade and grinding the blade to any number of teeth requested.

products. At that time, Kroetch’s main product was a hydraulic ironworker, and he knew if people could actually see it in action, they’d realize its value. Since then, not much has changed. Scotchman employees continue to carry on the hands-on approach to customer support established by Kroetch.

“Sometimes, you just can’t understand a good thing until you see it,” says Brooke Formanek, marketing manager at Scotchman. “That is why demonstrations are so effective – we can show rather than tell. The demonstration process is very important to us and is something that we believe strongly in here at Scotchman Industries. It is in our DNA and helped build our company to what it is today.”

For no charge and for businesses large and small, Scotchman representatives will load one of their 17 mobile demonstration trucks with products, take them to the customer or potential customer in any of the lower 48 states, and run material through them. Each self-contained vehicle is equipped with a range of hydraulic ironworkers, circular cold saws, tube and pipe notchers/grinders, measuring systems and more. All machinery is fully powered and ready to demonstrate at any location.

Today, many marketers and customer service departments use automated chatbots to convey information to customers and provide virtual meetings and video demonstrations as a form of outreach. Scotchman representatives focus on going the extra mile – literally and figuratively – with their in-person services.

“The value of Scotchman products is limitless for any large or small business,” says Jerry Kroetch, president of Scotchman. “We make it easy for a customer to see our machines in action and even test them before they make their final purchasing decision.”

Custom approach

With highly trained customer service experts assisting Scotchman customers, the company enjoys a high level of loyalty and repeat business.

There are times when a customer needs something outside of the standard lineup of saws or ironworkers. Unique applications call for custom-built solutions, which is something on which Scotchman prides itself. The majority of custom jobs involve developing special tools or accessories to fit a standard machine, but the company has also modified machines to create a unique piece of machinery or system.

Because there are 100-plus different standard tooling and machine options offered, engineers are on hand to design and build tailored solutions from the headquarters in Philip, S.D. The research and development is followed by rigorous testing and verification that the machines can stand up to tough demands. Customers can email CAD drawings and get advice on which Scotchman products will meet their needs. Or, in special instances, they can also get help determining whether a custom tool should be created to fulfill their needs.

“In addition to our full-time custom tooling department, we have been known to build completely custom saws or ironworker systems,” Formanek says. “Don’t assume that if it’s not in our catalog or on our website that we can’t build it.”

For example, one of Scotchman’s customers was working with 4-in.-by-4 in. angle iron and needed a machine to make notches. Engineers were able to modify the frame of an ironworker and couple it with an automatic feed system to create a fully automatic ironworker that got the job done faster and more efficiently, which allowed the customer to meet tight deadlines.

“We have built similar automatic ironworker systems and sawing systems to meet our other customers’ unique applications, as well,” she says.

Meeting needs

Different material types, shapes and sizes require the right saw and the right blade. Rather than go through a costly trial and error process where a fabricator has to guess as to which saw

With a fleet of 17 mobile service trucks, Scotchman can bring is fabrication solutions to potential customers in any of the lower 48 states.

will work best, Scotchman specialists provide a full analysis of cut cycle times, optional RPMs and blade recommendations, which includes the correct tooth configuration. They also offer free test cutting of customers’ materials and evaluation of their applications.

“Potential customers come to us describing a specific situation and we help them choose the best sawing system to meet their needs,” Formanek says. “Customers send us samples of the material they need to cut and the specifics and requirements of what they need out of a sawing system. We run their material through our saws and provide our best recommendations to accomplish their goals with the cut quality, precision and speed they require.”

Formanek says if a customer is working with new material and they’re usure of the best blade tooth configuration for getting a fast and clean cut, “we test various blades, tooth configurations and RMPs to offer them the best solution, even if it’s not our solution. Not every application is solved by a Scotchman product.”

Scotchman even offers an in-house high-speed steel (HSS) blade sharpening service for fast, high-quality and consistent results. Formanek says they can sharpen any HSS blade, re-tooth a chipped blade and grind blades to any number of teeth requested. Customers can have a blade in and out within two business days or less.

Formanek says the key to keeping customers loyal is delivering value and exceeding customer expectations time and again. Staffing the Scotchman customer support team with well-trained, positive employees is vital because they focus on the core of the company, which is the customers.

“Taking care of customers is extremely important to us and it conveys a strong set of moral values and beliefs in a company’s mission,” she says. “It can symbolize that it’s transcending the necessity for profits by focusing on building a tribe. It also demonstrates there are greater forces at work than mere profits.”

Scotchman Industries

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