Neil Schmidgall and his wife Linda were the first two employees of Superior Industries, founding the company in 1972. But the story doesn’t start there. Superior’s legacy originates a couple generations before, initiated by Neil’s grandfather Henry Schmidgall.
In 1917 Henry Schmidgall and his family relocated from Illinois to Hancock, Minnesota, a rural farming community 150 miles west of Minneapolis. That same year he purchased a small, drain tile plant and started a business that he named Hancock Concrete. It would become the bedrock from which a family legacy of innovation and entrepreneurism would emerge.
In 1940 Henry’s son Wayne acquired the aggregate production division of Hancock Concrete, forming his own business Schmidgall Sand and Gravel. Wayne’s new business would eventually serve as the catalyst for his son Neil’s passion for aggregate machinery. Neil started working for his father after graduating from the University of Minnesota in 1963. He developed a skill for building and repairing the portable plants and conveyors used to produce his father’s sand and gravel supply. Neil’s ability attracted a large number of local customers, which gave him the means to develop the family business further by starting the Superior Machinery Company in Morris, Minnesota.
Superior started out simply by building and repairing conveyors, but soon ventured further into the aggregate manufacturing market. In 1974 Superior made a deal with Ersham Manufacturing of Enterprise Kansas, acquiring their conveyor idler inventory, presses and tooling. Manufacturing both conveying systems and their accompanying accessories, a rare business model still to this day, proved to be a great strategy for growth.
Neil worked hard in the formative years of Superior to develop a culture of opportunity and advancement for his employees. Current CEO Micah Zeltwanger states. “Some people tend to be smothering, always on top of people. Neil tends to give people guidance and help them along, but at the end, he gives them enough freedom to be innovative.”
Neil’s belief that hard work leads to a life of accomplishment and deep satisfaction was handed down to him from his father and grandfather. He was able to instill those same beliefs in his employees. The culture of opportunity that Neil fostered at Superior has helped to sustain the small, rural community in Morris. He says, “Our employees are constantly encouraged to practice high integrity and they are reaping the benefits of maintaining long-term relationships.”
The freedom and leadership that Neil provided to his employees prepared Superior to become an industry leader. In 1997 Neil encouraged two ambitious engineers at Superior to develop a new telescoping radial stacking conveyor. Their following research and design resulted in the production of the TeleStacker® Conveyor, Superior’s signature product that expanded its customer base to 6 continents.
As Superior has led the industry in new conveyor technology during the 2000s, its operations have expanded considerably. Superior has acquired new businesses all across the U.S., Canada, and Brazil. The company now employs over 1,600 people. In 2008 Superior acquired Westmor Industries, LLC, a neighbor in Morris, Minnesota, and the community’s second largest manufacturer. In 2010 Superior’s legacy came full circle when the company acquired Hancock Concrete.
In 2015 Neil was inducted into the Pit & Quarry Hall of Fame. He was recognized for his contributions to the aggregate and mining industries and for the company that he founded and grew. Today, Superior Industries operates on the foundation that Neil set: building innovation that creates opportunity for each other, our communities, and our investors.
Henry Schmidgall establishes precast concrete manufacturer, Hancock Concrete, which still operates today.
Henry’s son, Wayne, establishes Schmidgall Sand & Gravel to supply aggregate to Hancock Concrete.
Henry’s grandson, Neil Schmidgall, establishes Superior after repairing plants for Schmidgall Sand & Gravel.
Acquisition of Kansas idler manufacturer makes Superior on of few conveyor and components manufacturers.
US Patent and Trademark Office awards Superior first patent for FD Axle portable conveyor assembly.
Publicly-traded Astec Inc. acquires Superior.
Local investors and employees reacquire Superior from Astec and return business to private model.
To keep warm during Minnesota winters, Superior builds first satellite plant in Prescott Valley, Arizona.
Acquisition of Georgia-based Fesco Systems, along with a legacy of construction management excellence.
Acquisition of neighboring manufacturer, Westmor Industries, for more employment opportunity.
Superior reconnects with roots after acquisition of precast concrete manufacturer, Hancock Concrete Products.
Washing products are first processing machinery added to portfolio after acquisition of Nebraska-based GreyStone, Inc.
Family owned and Calgary, Alberta-based Clemro Western is purchased adding manufacturing location to Northwest.
Northeast plant location is established after acquisition of portable plant builder, MFE Manufacturing.
Acquistion of FLSmidth assets in Pekin, Illinois kickstart establishment of bulk material crushing solutions.
Early formation of vibratory screening products establishes Superior as total solutions provider from Rock Face to Load Out®.
Superior acquires Brazil-based Parcan Group, which manufacturers idlers and pulleys for some of the largest mines on the planet.