Sukup kicks off 50-year anniversary celebrations
Complete with a cake shaped like a grain bin, Sukup Manufacturing Co. kicked off a yearlong observance of its 50th anniversary with a thank-you lunch for employees and a touching video tribute.
“It’s been an exciting ride,” company founder Eugene Sukup said to a packed audience of employees, crediting the success of the business to their hard work.
Along with scores of other products, it’s gratifying to still be selling hundreds of grain stirring machines each year, he said before demonstrating one of the original Easy Stir augers. They sold for $29.95 when introduced in 1963, powered by an electric drill and hung by a chain from the top of a bin.
The augers broke up crusted corn as intended, but the need for further automation quickly became apparent so farmers wouldn’t have to repeatedly move the auger to stir other areas of grain in the bin.
If not for income the family had from raising hogs, “there would have been no Sukup Manufacturing Co.,” said Mary Sukup, Eugene’s wife.
But perseverance in product improvement paid off, resulting in a stirring machine that would move back and forth and around the bin.
The timing of a major shift in agriculture – from storing corn on the cob to storing shelled corn – served the young company very well. As more and more farmers began storing shelled corn, they saw the need for stirring machines to keep it from spoiling in bins.
The company’s subsequent development of aeration, unloading and drying equipment helped it grow from a small welding shop in Sheffield, Iowa, to an international leader in grain storage and handling equipment, with about 500 employees and products in more than 50 countries.
Sukup Manufacturing Co. has more than 80 patents, all part of a mission to make grain farming more productive, safe and efficient.
“Dad was always trying different things,” said son Steve Sukup, chief financial officer of the family-owned company. While many were very successful, others didn’t work out too well, he said, sharing how his dad had an old Ford LTD fitted with brackets that could hold stirring augers. The idea was that salesmen could haul them around that way. But there was a bit of a clearance problem, Steve quipped, drawing laughter from the packed assembly of Sukup employees.
The video shown to employees – and available on www.Sukup.com – tells of the company’s early years and struggles, and includes testimonials by several Sukup dealers.
“We appreciate their morals and their business practices,” said Bob Devolder of Devolder Farms in Ontario, Canada. “It definitely is a pleasure to work with a family-owned business,”
“I think they really care, genuinely, about creating solutions for the farmers, and that reflects on all the products they provide to us,” said Devolder’s daughter, Lisa.
Charles Sukup, president of Sukup Manufacturing, said the company has always been about finding solutions. He described his dad as a classic entrepreneur who kept the company moving forward by coming up with new product ideas.
“One of the big keys is perseverance,” he said, noting how obstacles that seem insurmountable often result in changes that lead to great success. One example was his dad’s inability to buy land near the original site of the company. It led him to buy ground to the northeast of Sheffield that has provided ample space for what turned out to be rapid growth of the company.
The new office building that will take shape this year will help make people realize “we’re more than a welding shop in a cornfield in Iowa,” Charles Sukup said.
But the most important factor of the company’s success is the employees, he said. Dealers and others who tour the plant almost always comment about how eager employees are to stop, take off their gloves and shake the visitor’s hand. It shows how much employees care about customers and about what they do, he said.
“Thank you to each and every one of you.”
Sukup Manufacturing Co. is a family-owned business that has been providing top-quality products to agricultural producers since 1963.
Sukup is the fastest-growing bin manufacturer in the world. Its product line includes farm and commercial grain bins, portable and tower dryers, centrifugal and axial fans and heaters, stirring machines, bin unloading equipment and bin floors and supports.
Sukup also makes a line of material handling equipment that includes bucket elevators, drag conveyors and chain loop conveyors, and manufactures pre-engineered steel buildings.
Sukup products are sold throughout the U.S. and Canada, as well as in more than 50 other countries.
Sukup Manufacturing 50 Years and Counting