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2/13/2008 – News

Volume 125, Number 2            Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

Summers Mfg. now owned by employees
Good news! Summers Mfg. in Maddock and Devils Lake will be turning out farm machinery at those locations for a long time to come.
Well, it’s not really new news, but the 130 employees at Summers Mfg. are purchasing the company through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). The ESOP went into effect a year ago in January of 2007.
This is good news because it insures the businesses will stay in Maddock and Devils Lake.
"We talked with several manufacturing companies about purchasing Summers Mfg.," said Larry Summers. "They gave us some very good offers but none would guarantee they would keep the businesses operating in Maddock and Devils Lake, and that was something we all wanted."
Deb (Summers) Anderson, who is now president of the company, said "We just felt we had an obligation to our employees, who are also the people we go to church with and attend ball games with. It’s personal to us," she said. "We just couldn’t do that (sell to an outside firm) to them."
The Summers family heard about an ESOP and learned that the money the company pays in income taxes could fund the ESOP. "It turned out to be the ideal solution," said Carter Summers.
Summers Mfg. was a C corporation and under the guidance of an attorney who specializes in ESOPs, the company changed to an S corporation, which does not pay taxes directly. About 25 percent of the company’s annual payroll can be put into the ESOP. That money is used to purchase stock from the 20 family members who owned stock.
The ESOP now holds 100% of the company’s stock.
So it doesn’t cost the employees anything to become stockholders in the corporation. They just have to work there 12 consecutive months, plus 1,000 hours.
The ESOP is governed by complicated rules imposed by the IRS. It requires a third party to administer the ESOP for the employees and this is done by State Bank and Trust Co. of Fargo.
"It’s fairly complicated," said Larry Summers. "Sometimes we got confused, too, while setting it up."
Carter Summers added that as far as the family is concerned, the ESOP was a good deal. "Before, we had no liquidity because the stock was totally tied up in the company. Now we have the liquidity we wanted."
Deb Anderson, who is a sister of Carter and Larry, said the ESOP hasn’t changed the operation of the business on a day-to-day basis.
Larry laughingly adds that it has to a certain extent. "Now that the employees are owners of the company they turn out the lights in the break room when their break is over."
Larry was president of the company and Carter was chief executive officer. Both are now retired, but remain on the board of directors.
Other members of the board are Deb Anderson, president; Angie Summers, vice president of operations; Pete Almen, vice president of engineering and Brian Perkuhn, vice president of sales. Angie is Carter’s daughter. Almen and Perkuhn are the first members of the board of directors from outside the Summers family.
Carter points out that Summers Mfg. is experiencing a banner year.
"We’re sold out for this year and we might be sold out for next year as well."
Business began booming with so much farmland being put into corn for ethanol production. Farmers needed the machinery Summers makes. Recently they’ve been selling coil packers to John Deere, which sells them in tandem with John Deere’s air seeder. On top of that, they’ve been shipping sprayers, discs, harrows, chisel plows and coil packers to Kazakhstan and a large dealer in Russia. A US machinery dealer has sold a number of Summers products in the Urkaine.
"It’s just exploded," Carter marvels.
Angie Summers says they are now running two shifts at the Maddock plant for the first time in the history of the company. "The Devils Lake plant is running two shifts and we’d put on a third shift if we could find the employees," she said. In addition, the second shift is currently running short-handed, so if you need a job, you know where to go.
History of Summers Mfg.
Summers Manufacturing was founded in 1965 by Maddock blacksmith Harley Summers, who purchased patent rights for Goebel truck and pickup hoists from the Goebel Brothers of Lehr. These hoists, produced in Summers’ blacksmith shop the first year, were distributed nationwide by a Cincinnati, Ohio dealer. With increasing sales, the company soon outgrew the small shop. Summers won the Herman harrow contract, beginning the company’s Herman Culti-harrow line. Summers built a 7,200 square-foot factory in Maddock to meet the demand for truck and pickup hoists, as well as Herman harrows.
In 1970 Summers purchased rights to manufacture and market the Herman Harrow.
In 1973 a new 20,000 square-foot plant and offices were built in Maddock, adding a 20,000 square-foot assembly plant in the fall of 1975, bringing total square footage of Maddock factories to 47,000.
In 1977 Summers introduced the Agri-sprayer, used in conjunction with the Herman culti-harrow to incorporate herbicides and liquid fertilizer.
In 1980 the company purchased the manufacturing and distributing rights to Crown rockpickers from Crown Manufacturers of Regina, Saskatchewan. This forced another expansion project — a 26,000 square foot factory on a 24 acre site in the Devils Lake Industrial Park.
In 1982 the Devils Lake plant began operations, manufacturing supersprayers and rockpickers. The Maddock factory begins producing the Superweeder, a combination cultivator and harrow.
In 1983 Summers purchased the manufacturing and distributing rights to the Fargo Field Sprayer line from Mid America Steel (formerly Fargo Foundry) in Fargo. This field sprayer line is manufactured at the Devils Lake plant. Harley Summers is selected North Dakota’s small businessman of the year by the Small Business Administration.
In 1984 the Herman Diamond Disk, a disk harrow made in a diamond shape to reduce blade breakage from rocks, comes off the assembly line.
In 1985 Summers signed a contract with the Melroe Company of Bismarck to obtain exclusive manufacturing rights to the Melroe harrow line.
In 1989 Summers purchased the TorMaster Company of Hordean, Manitoba, giving the company a line of rolling packer equipment, comprised of harrow packers and hydraulic folding packer drawbars.
In 1992 a new engineering office and parts department is added to the Devils Lake factory.
In 1993 the company added two new products: a pickup-mounted sprayer with booms of 80 and 90 feet, and the Summers Superharrow, an extra-heavy-duty residue-management tool designed for the minimum and no-till farmer.
In 1994 a 50×125 foot addition to the Maddock factory is completed. Construction begins on a 24,576 square-foot addition to the Devils Lake factory, which will enable the company to increase production of truck-mounted and pull-type supersprayers and rockpickers.
In 1996 a 1,500 square foot office area is added to the Maddock plant.
In 1997 a 16,800 square foot warehouse in Maddock was purchased from a local business.
In 1999 the company introduced the Ultimate suspended boom trailer sprayer with hydraulic folding booms. Additional sizes were added to the chisel plow line, now ranging from 28′ to 54′.
In 2000 the company introduced the Supercoulter, the innovative solution for excessive field residue management on no-till, minimum-till, and conventional-till farming operations.
Company founder Harley Summers died in an auto accident in Devils Lake Dec. 22, 2000 at the age of 81. His wife, who was a passenger in the car, died March 3, 2001 as a result of injuries sustained in the accident.
In 2001 a cold storage building was completed at Devils Lake. The company extended boom lengths up to 110 feet on the Ultimate Supersprayer.
In 2002 a warehouse and service man were added in Aberdeen, SD.
In 2003 the company introduced the Ultimate NT Supersprayer.
In 2004 a 124 ft. x 310 ft. addition is added onto the current Devils Lake plant.
In 2005 the Summers Super-roller is added to the "Field Tested Tough" product line. Additional sizes of 56′, 58′ and 60′ are added to the Superchisel line.
In 2006 the Summers Coulter-Chisel, Rolling Choppers and 30′ Superroller are included in product line.
Summers distributes on a wholesale level to dealers and distributors throughout markets in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, Iowa, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Kazakhstan, Russia and Australia, making it an international company.

Members of the Summers family who now are on the board of directors of the company, but no longer own it, are pictured. Left to right are Deb Anderson, president; Larry Summers, Carter Summers and Angie Summers, vice president of operations.

Takes over the reins
Pam Lee is the new auditor for the city of Maddock. She assumed her duties on February 1, succeeding Jean Mosser, who held the position for 29 years. Lee was hired in August of 2006 as a part-time assistant auditor. The 1986 graduate of Leeds High School is the daughter of Leland and Judy Ritterman of Leeds. She and husband Jason Lee live near Maddock and have three children: Kenadi, a 10-year-old fifth grader; Keringten, an eight-year-old second grader; and Kaden, who is four years old.

Sears wins at free throws
Quentin Sears of Maddock won the 10-year-old boys’ division of the regional Knights of Columbus Free Throw Shooting Competition held at Bishop Ryan High School in Minot February 10. Prior to that he had qualified locally in Maddock and had won the district level in Rugby by sinking 22 of 25 shots in a closely contested race. He will now move on to the state and national contest which will be held at the University of Mary in Bismarck April 5.
Quentin is the son of Ann Sears of Maddock and David Sears of Minnewaukan.

Fat Tuesday cooks
Ronnie Smith, Jimmy Gilbertson, Kenny Dosch, Wayne Randle and Mike Jelle are shown on Fat Tuesday at the Maddock Memorial Home. These men normally gather and eat at Maddock Cafe & Lanes but on Fat Tuesday they gathered at the Maddock Memorial Home to cook for and serve residents at the "Young at Heart" breakfast club. The menu consisted of French toast, eggs, caramel rolls, toast, bacon, sausage, hash browns, fresh fruit, juice, coffee and milk. Who would like to be the next group to have some fun with residents from 7:20 to 8:20 a.m. on March 12?

Beth Beecroft in two choirs
Elizabeth Beecroft participated in the UND Honor Choir January 18-20.
Students from North Dakota were chosen after a live audition. The students rehearsed Friday and Saturday and performed in a combined concert with an honor band, choir and orchestra.
Beecroft was also chosen to be a participant in the North Dakota All-State Choir in Bismarck March 27-29. She is a junior at the Minnewaukan School.

Family gathers at basketball game
Former and current Benson County residents met at the South Forks Lions Basketball Shootout in Grand Forks recently. Left to right are Monty Stensland and Sandi (Ellingson) Stensland of Grand Forks; Lester Ellingson Sr. and Erna Ellingson of Minnewaukan; and Kevin Ankenbauer and Donna (Ellingson) Ankenbauer of San Antonio, Tex. The younger ladies are the daughters of Lester and Erna. Monty is a native of Oberon and Kevin is a native of Minnewaukan. Others with Benson County roots at the shootout were Lion Brad Westrum, the tournament director, who coached at Leeds in the mid 70’s and former Benson County judge Joel Medd, who ran the sound system during the shootout. Former Minnewaukan residents Robert Wallace and his wife, Carrie were also there to watch their son, Mark play for Northwood. Two Benson County teams played in the shootout. The Four Winds Indians played Hatton-Northwood and won decisively. They were led in scoring by CJ Ironheart, who scored 37 points, mainly from three point range. Minnewaukan-Leeds was defeated by North Border.

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