Herald Journal, Dec. 26, 2005
Last remnant of former Schwartz Manufacturing closing LP office
By Dave Cox
Desks and chairs were carried out the door of the Alamo SMC office in Lester Prairie Tuesday, signaling the end of a business presence that has been part of the city for nearly 65 years.
“It has been a good run,” said Senior Engineer Kermit Hillmann, of his 34 years with the company.
Hillmann is one of the 13 remaining employees in the Lester Prairie Alamo SMC office. The office is being closed, and operations are being moved to an Alamo SMC plant in Gibson City, Ill.
The story began when Elmer and Norman Schwartz founded Schwartz Manufacturing Company in the former Sunnyside Creamery building in Lester Prairie in 1941
The first products built by the company were silage carts and front end loaders that were customized for each tractor that was brought to the shop.
The company grew and went through a number of changes over the years.
At one time, more than 130 people were employed at the Lester Prairie facility, Administrative Assistant Lois Raduenz said.
Raduenz has worked for the company for 38 years, starting as receptionist, and holding many other positions over the years.
“We had a good crew here. They were good people to work with,” Raduenz said.
Raduenz said that at its peak in the city, the company employed 100 people in the shop, and another 30 in the office. There was also a parts department at one time.
“A lot of Lester Prairie people were employed here,” Raduenz commented.
The manufacturing operations were moved to Sioux Falls, S.D. in 1989, and only the engineering department remained in Lester Prairie.
The remaining employees will now be looking for other employment, following the closing of the office.
“We will be done Friday, Dec. 23,” Raduenz said.
Brief company history
• 1941 Elmer and Norman Schwartz founded Schwartz Manufacturing Company.
• 1945 Elmer purchased Norman’s interest in the company and began mass producing farm products.
• 1953 Schwartz Manufacturing introduced the Uni-thrust hoist with unique lifting cradle.
• 1954 Schwartz Manufacturing introduced a line of ramp hoists for truck bodies.
• 1959 Expansion of LP facility and purchase of additional buildings.
• 1963 Construction of additional factory and office space at main LP facility.
• 1965 Major reorganization, with A. A. Kole joining the company as partner and chief operations officer.
• 1970 Schwartz Manufacturing became subsidiary of Chromalloy American Corp.
• 1983 Name was changed to Amerequip Corp.
•1989 Amerequip Corp. purchased by private entity and the company became known as SMC Corp.
• 2001 SMC Corp. purchased by Alamo Group.
Source: Alamo SMC web site