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History

A Tradition of the American Entrepreneurial Spirit

While the company you know today officially formed back in 1972, Superior traces its first roots to a time more than 50 years earlier. Now, close to a century later, these roots have reunited to form a company never imagined by the hard-working entrepreneurs who came long before.

Hancock Concrete

In 1947, this Hancock Concrete crew celebrates their first 84-inch diameter pipe.

The first seeds were planted in 1917. At the time, the world was fighting in The Great War, the Ford Motor Company manufactured its two-millionth Model T and a gallon of fuel was just four cents. That year, Henry Schmidgall moved his family to Hancock, Minnesota. He purchased a concrete factory in the small, farming village about 150 miles west of Minneapolis. By the 1940’s, Hancock Concrete was one of most pioneering, most modern concrete builders in all the United States.

During the same decade, Henry’s son and co-worker, Wayne Schmidgall, purchased the aggregate production division from his father. His business became known as Schmidgall Sand and Gravel and its chief customer for most of its existence was Hancock Concrete.

The entrepreneurial family tradition continued another generation later when Wayne’s son, Neil Schmidgall, started working for his dad. Neil’s passion was building and repairing the portable plants and conveyors used to produce his father’s sand and gravel supply. By 1972, other aggregate producers in western Minnesota started to notice Neil’s work and a growing customer base allowed him to form a brand new business he named the Superior Machinery Company.

The founder of Superior Industries, Neil Schmidgall, shows off his famous ribs during an employee picnic.

The founder of Superior Industries, Neil Schmidgall, shows off his famous ribs during an employee picnic.

Two years later, Schmidgall Sand and Gravel closed, but Neil was already quickly growing and broadening the scope of his young enterprise. That same year, Ersham Manufacturing of Enterprise, Kansas, offered to sell their conveyor idler inventory, presses and tooling. A purchase price was negotiated and in 1974, Superior was an American idler manufacturer; a unique business model to this day as Superior remains one of just a few companies in the world to manufacture both conveyor systems and many of their related accessories.

Throughout the 80’s and 90’s, steady growth continued, but an event in 1997 changed the company’s future forever. That year, a couple of aggressive, young engineers completed research and development on a new telescopic radial stacking conveyor. What became known as the TeleStacker® Conveyor gets credit for expanding Superior’s customer base to six of planet’s seven continents. After launching the complex machine, their innovative spirit spread throughout the company. Today, Superior is considered the leader in new conveyor technology after many times redefining the bulk material handling process.

The 2000’s will be known for rapid growth. During the last decade, Superior  extended outside of its headquarters in Morris, Minnesota, and added new businesses in Arizona, Iowa, Georgia, Kansas, Maine, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. In 2008, the company acquired Westmor Industries, LLC, a neighbor in Morris, Minnesota, and the community’s second largest manufacturer. Two years later, Superior reconnected with its roots when it purchased Hancock Concrete.

Today, Superior Industries is the largest employer in Stevens County, Minnesota, and one of the largest in the state. Together, its 1,200 hard-working employees are  in pursuit of the same goal: to build innovation that creates opportunity for each other, our communities and our investors.