55 years ago in the fall of 1962, Eugene Sukup, a young, innovative farmer, bought his first grain bin to dry and store shelled corn. Unfortunately, he found drying to be slow, and pockets of grain began to overheat and spoil. To solve this problem, he modified a stoker auger from a coal furnace and inserted it in an electric drill. Then, using a chain, he hung it from the top of the bin to loosen the hot spots and prevent spoilage.
Eugene began making the stirring augers at a local welding shop in Sheffield, Iowa. He sold 5 units to a local bin dealer for $29 each; but when he went back to check on them, he found that only 3 had sold and one of those had been returned. To make a successful product, it had to be automatic, so Eugene went back to the drawing board. He came up with the idea of adding a horizontal auger through the handle of the drill. He patented the idea and the Stirway stirring machine and Sukup Manufacturing Company were born.
After serving as the President of his company for 32 years, Eugene Sukup turned over the position to his son, Charles, in 1995. Eugene now serves as Chairman of the Board. Eugene’s wife of over 60 years, Mary, serves as Corporate Secretary. Charles had been Vice President and focused mainly on engineering and sales concerns. As President, Charles, along with the rest of the family, has continued to expand the company to include a full line of grain handling products, including bins and dryers. Eugene’s son, Steve, graduated from Iowa State University in 1979 with a degree in Industrial Engineering. Steve serves as the company Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. His main responsibilities include financial operations and manufacturing the Sukup line of equipment. Steve served in the Iowa Legislature from 1994-2002 and was Speaker Pro Tem of the Iowa House of Representatives.
Throughout the years, Sukup Manufacturing Co. has continually grown and expanded its product offerings. First, adding products to go in and on grain bins to make in-bin drying more efficient. Then, in 1998, venturing into portable, continuous flow dryers that offer higher capacities and more flexibility than in-bin drying. In 2001, Sukup Manufacturing Co. took a huge leap and began manufacturing the grain bins themselves.
The key to Sukup Manufacturing Co’s success has been its innovative ideas that have resulted in over 80 U.S. patents. Sukup Manufacturing Co. remains the largest family-owned, full-line grain system manufacturer. About 600 people are employed by Sukup Manufacturing Co. Eugene Sukup is still active in the business and has been heard to say, “I haven’t ‘worked’ a day in my life. I just love what I do.”