Return to the Roots

October 1, 2010 11:56 AM

During the past four years, Don Landoll has placed greater focus on the products that he started his company with almost 50 years ago—ag equipment.

Based in Marysville, Kan., Landoll Corporation manufactures grain drills and 22 core models of tillage equipment. In addition, Landoll builds trailers, forklifts, and products for original equipment manufacturers. With a history of U.S. government contract work that spans more than two decades, Landoll has also made military wreckers, aircraft de-icers and military trailers.

“Diversification and vertical integration have been our keys to success,” says Landoll, founder and chairman of the company. “Our diversification allows us to have manufacturing equipment for one product line and to use that same equipment for a completely different product line.”

Landoll began his career as a manufacturer when he opened the Quick Service Welding Company in 1963. He then started Landoll Manufacturing, which was incorporated and became Landoll Corporation in 1975. While his business has grown to serve multiple industries, the first products to carry the Landoll name were a slip-in pickup stock rack and a chisel plow.

“High-dollar, low-volume products are our specialty,” Landoll says.

Today, the company’s manufacturing space totals more than 600,000 sq. ft. Including its headquarters, the company has six facilities in Marysville and one in Beloit, Kan., that focuses on tillage equipment and Icon scrapers.

Farmers with Landoll tillage tools may not realize that the company is No. 1 in narrow-aisle and very-narrow-aisle forklifts in the U.S. The company’s presence in the material handling market was amplified in 2003 when it acquired Drexel Industries, its main competitor at that time.

Landoll has 28 core trailer models for various worldwide markets and specialty applications.

“We started building trailers around the needs of the ag industry,” Landoll says. “For every problem, there’s an opportunity. I was hauling a tractor for the local implement dealer on a trailer that was undersized for the load. I saw the need for a ground-loading/off-loading trailer and then designed the first traveling axle trailer. That design became the basis of our trailer line.”

Today, the Landoll 800 Series trailers are designed to haul the largest combines on the market.
In 2007, the company acquired Icon Industries located in Beloit, Kan., and its line of scrapers.

The company uses approximately 100,000 lb. of steel a day across all of its product lines and has 15 robotic welders and 85 hand welders. One plate of raw steel can be used to cut out parts for all four product lines. The company makes its own hydraulic hoses and hose kits for the machines and uses a third of a mile of hydraulic hose every day.

“We have a lot of local engineering talent and are proud to have local people who leave the community for their education and return home for these jobs,” Landoll says.

The engineering teams are divided by product category and located next to the manufacturing floor, with an additional three ag engineers in the Beloit office.

Landoll University, the company’s in-house training center, is also located next to the manufacturing floor. The classroom holds training sessions to teach manufacturing basics, welding techniques and blueprint reading, and is able to provide military welding certification. The manufacturing employees work in three shifts, and the company has 125 welding personnel in all.

“Being able to hire employees who grew up on farms means we have workers with a strong work ethic who are happy to be trained with other skills,” says Rich Landoll, Don’s brother and plant manager.

Having diverse product lines allows the company to be flexible in its manufacturing areas and manufacturing equipment can be used for multiple end products. For example, a machine purchased to build toolboxes for military recovery trucks is also used for seed boxes on grain drills.

Renewed focus on ag. In 2006, Landoll made an investment to bolster its presence in the ag market.

“The military had been good to us, and tillage had slipped on us,” Landoll says. “In one day, we hired nine new people in our tillage department. With that kind of decision, we needed to signify change. For 35 years our tillage equipment was painted Minneapolis Moline yellow. I felt we needed a common color and decided on sapphire blue.”

“We test our tillage prototypes on our own farms. We have farms across different types of land, including terraces and river bottom ground,” Landoll explains.

The company’s renewed commitment also led to the introduction of the first Landoll grain drill in 2009.

This fall, the company opened a new facility totaling 144,000 sq. ft. on 35 acres. It installed the largest tube laser in North America; it can cut 20" diameter steel tubing up to 46' long. For welding large tillage frames up to 28'x12', the company developed a computerized robot welder that can weld a tillage frame in one hour and uses 1,000 lb. of welding wire in a week. The powder coat paint line processes 23,000 lb. of product an hour and switches colors in 15 minutes.

“This facility won’t be 100% tillage, but right now, a majority of its manufacturing schedule will be tillage,” Landoll says. “Before building this facility, I hadn’t built a powder paint line in 16 years. With this building, I’ve been able to incorporate what I’ve dreamed we could do.”

To move its products, the company owns eight trucks, and 130,000 miles are put on each truck in a year.

With many markets to serve and products to develop, Landoll has a lot of things to focus on all at once.

“One of my dad’s favorite sayings is ‘The ability to think is taking what you already know to figure out what you don’t know,’” says Paula Landoll-Smith, Don’s daughter and the company’s marketing director.

As a pilot himself, Landoll has led the company to own two planes. He and Rich, who’s also a pilot, donate their time to Angel Flight to provide transportation for local patients with critical health issues. The company’s headquarters is adjacent to the local airport, and Landoll refurbished the facility by adding a shelter, barbecue grill, landscaping and laser-cut gates with symbols reflecting the community.

While the company is involved in the surrounding communities, it also has its eye on the international ag industry.

“I’ve traveled to Russia, where the opportunities seem as large as the farms over there,” says Phil Landoll, Don’s son and special projects manager.

Through years of manufacturing diversity and emerging opportunities, Landoll’s business is rooted in its history.

Landoll Corporation Statistics

  • 409 dealers total, 302 ag dealers
  • Holds more than 20 patents
  • More than 600 employees from 63 Zip codes
  • 600,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing capacity
  • 26 years of government contracts and a General Services Administration approved supplier.

Fast Facts

  • An Icon packer, built by Landoll, is used to pack snow to make it possible to land aircraft at the North Pole.
  • Boeing uses four Landoll trailers to load satellites in Los Angeles. There are also nine Landoll trailers at Cape Canaveral.
  • Landoll makes explosion-proof fork trucks that are used for loading paint, varnishes, alcohol, ammunition and explosives.
  • For 17 years, the company has hosted Birthday Bunch every month, with a family meal for employees who celebrate their birthday that month.
  • One of Elvis Presley’s cars was hauled across the U.S. on a Landoll centerfold car carrier.
  • In 2010, the company was awarded the Kansas Governor’s Award of Excellence.
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