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SCHWEISS Door History

History of Schweiss Bi-Fold Doors
Aviation Industry and Bigger Farm Equipment Push Bi-Fold Doors

Ideas come from the darndest places! Take for example the birth of Schweiss Bi-Fold Doors, rural Fairfax, MN, which today has thousands of its unique vertical folding doors providing quick, quiet and effortless entry to airplane hangers, commercial buildings and farm sheds across America and other parts of the world.

Owner Mike Schweiss relates, "It was 1980. I was at a wedding dance. A friend commented Mike, you build lots of different things. Why not a door that folds up?"

Ironically that very person died of a heart attack that same evening. But his idea didn't!

At that time, Schweiss and his three employees were manufacturing things like farrowing crates for sows, snow blowers, farm trailers, tile plows and can you imagine something called the Schweiss Chicken Plucker!

He chuckles, "it was the Chicken Plucker that gave us name recognition, and in fact got us going financially." His first Bi-Fold door measured 12 x 12, and was installed at Renville County Highway shed, 10 miles from Mike's country factory location. The door is still in operation even though Schweiss admits, "we made it wrong every which way."

There apparently isn't anything wrong with the Schweiss Bi-Fold door today however, especially since the advent of their unique, patented nylon Lift Strap System 6 years ago, which replaced the conventional cable system, still used by most mechanical door manufacturers.

The Lift-Strap System utilizes nylon web material, which quietly wraps on a take-up spindle when the start-stop button activates an electric motor. Tensile strength of this nylon strap is a whopping 29,000 lbs! The straps never rusts, making them more durable and longer lasting than steel cables.

Depending upon door size, two, four or six sets of straps are installed with each Bi-Fold door. Their biggest door to date is a massive 140' wide facility. Their biggest single project to date 114 Bi-Fold doors all 12 x 40, for T-hangers at a new privately owned Arizona airfield.

Today the aviation industry claims about 75% of the total sales of Schweiss Manufacturing, which now employs about 50 people full-time and upwards of 70 on a seasonal basis when the Ag market ratchets up a notch or two. Because farm equipment gets bigger and bigger, the Schweiss Bi-Fold finds a comfortable niche with commercial farmers building new machine sheds for their huge farm equipment. Door heights are now up to 18, and can be remotely controlled from tractor, pickup or combine cabs.

Cost vary depending upon size of door and options with current costs at $110-$130/linear foot. This includes installation, which typically is a 1-day process for the 2-3-man Schweiss crew that delivers the door.

Schweiss Bi-Folds can be ordered with a walk-through door, single or double-insulated windows, radio-controlled capability, photo eye sensor for emergency stop situations and insulated. Doors can also be custom cut, to gain extra headroom. In essence, the top portion of the Bi-Fold is slant cut to follow the roof line.

Why the recent sales strength in the aviation industry? Having a good product obviously deserves credit. Schweiss also notes a turnaround in the private aviation sector, even though it slow edtemporarily after the 9/11 incident.

"When Piper, Cessna, and others started building small planes again, our business with airport operators and airport builders really took off", relates Schweiss, himself a licensed pilot owning a Cherokee Six hangered at Hector, MN, eight miles from Mike's office. The Hector Airport is one of the more active small airports in Minnesota, due to heavy aerial crop spraying business. Airport manager, Ed Neuberg, is the guy who gave Schweiss the idea of the nylon wrap. "That's one person to who I will always be thankful", sums up Schweiss.

Today business is brisk for Schweiss Bi-Fold with both national and international sales including a Japanese based distributor. "Long-term future of our industry is strong. Better, quicker, quieter and safer door openings have a bright future," concludes Schweiss.

Casual dress and ready telephones are trademarks of Mike Schweiss, owner of Schweiss Manufacturing, rural Fairfax, MN. With a nationwide dealer network plus a recent franchise addition in Japan, revenues exceeded $7 million this past year. Bi-Fold door sales to the aviation industry now account for about 75% of total sales.

Rick Wollin, Computer Programmer and Inventory Control Manager, developed a unique computer program that details steel components, hinges, nuts, bolts and total hardware of each door. A computer printout of each order goes to electrical, steel, and welding crews in the various buildings of an 11-acre manufacturing facility, so each worker knows precisely what hardware is needed for each door as it moves through the assembly process. Doors are built as ordered so inventory is minimized.

Lead Sales person, Julie Schafer coordinates telephone and Internet generated sales. About 15% of sales activity is now Internet sourced, gets you there. By phone, its 800-746-8273.

Heavy-duty nylon strap (29,000 lbs. tensile strength) replaces noisy, high-maintenance steel cables and has generated a substantial sales jump. Schweiss Bi-Fold is one of about ten Bi-Fold door manufacturers nationwide, but patented nylon strap systems is unique with Schweiss Manufacturing.



niki said...

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