What started merely as a milk route resulted in one of the best complex metal fabricators in the United States.
Three brothers, Earl, Marv, and Cliff Schuette started a sawmill based on profits from a milk route, selling framing lumber to builders. After World War II, the family expanded their business, including a sawmill, a one-stop building center, called Schuette Builders, and Schuette Movers. Schuette incorporated in 1957.
Schuette Movers moved various machines and equipment, including a 170-ton steam locomotive and a 130-ton transformer.
Setting Wausau Homes apart from other home builders was the novel concept of controlled construction, finished components transported, and on-site erection. Helping Wausau Homes fabricate complete homes was the purchase of a local heating company manufacturing ventilation components.
In the rough, early 1980s economy, many OEMs started outsourcing their fabrication needs. Despite the uncertainty created by the recession, Schuette purchased a local metal fabrication company. This purchase opened the door to the architectural industry comprising around 30% of our business.
The metal fabricator supplied clips for a central Wisconsin window company working on high-rise buildings. After providing components for the top of the building at 225 West Wacker Drive in Chicago, other architectural-related companies sought us out for their fabrication needs throughout the United States.
Finding our Niche
Our A-Ha! moment came when a large agricultural original equipment manufacturer (OEM) asked us to solve a problem. The OEM needed fabrication for an intricate part but couldn’t find a supplier. Working together, Schuette Metals and the OEM designed and fabricated the complicated part they needed.
After the OEM told us that there wasn’t another company with our ability, we realized the unique services we provide. Slowly, Schuette Metals built its reputation as the go-to metal fabrication company for complicated manufacturing.
Much of our business is fabricating OEM parts including engine mounts, speaker frames, bulldozer rock guards, and components used in tractors, combines, bulldozers, front-end loaders, or industrial tractors.
We’ve expanded our services to include the Agricultural, Defense, Construction, Industrial, and Access Equipment markets. We’ve also implemented a Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM) process, helping our customers by reducing costs and lead-times.
Taking Care of Our People
Nearly 170 people work for Schuette Incorporated, and we take care of them. We’ve installed an air quality system second to none. Every welding station has a smoke extraction arm pulling smoke away from their breathing zone. Finally, the shop is climate controlled.
Why so much effort? Two reasons: we want to hire the best people and keep the best employees.
Our owner, John Peterson, sums it up nicely:
“You can have all the buildings and the equipment in the world, but if you don’t have people to work in the facility, it doesn’t do you much good.”