Though its founding predates the Civil War, Stedman’s modern business philosophy and dedication to customer service keep the company focused on the future.
Nathan P. Stedman invented the cage mill in 1886.
difficult to wrap one’s mind around a company history that spans 175 years.
Stedman was founded in 1834-prior to the Civil War and well before Ford began
production of the Model T. Forget about spreadsheets and e-mail; it was the
early 19th century, a time when most households weren’t even equipped with
A modern cage mill.
In 1886, Nathan P. Stedman invented the cage
mill, a piece of machinery that has been upgraded through the years and is
still widely used today. According to Chris Nawalaniec, Stedman’s national sales
manager, this invention “was a big deal because it really got us on the track
of where we are today, specializing in size reduction. It’s a neat thing when
you consider an invention that’s 120 years old still being a very viable
technology in many industries. It shows how robust of an invention that really
Interestingly, the first cage mill was sold to Oakland Pressed Brick Co. of
Zanesville, Ohio, and the first cage mill
export went to the Kennedy Brick Machinery Manufacturing Co. of Liverpool, England, in
1890. “When you look back, you see that we have a pretty long pedigree in the
brick industry,” says Nawalaniec.
The company developed its Grand Slam horizontal shaft impactor in 1980, and,
about a decade later, added heaters and air cannons specifically for brick
applications. “The Grand Slam with heaters and air cannons has provided a
fundamental change in the operation of grinding rooms for brick plants and roof
tile plants,” explains Nawalaniec. “Traditionally, in any kind of clay
preparation, if you get moisture levels above a certain point, production slows
down drastically and sometimes even stops. The Grand Slam can keep on going.”
Stedman also added air cannons and heaters to the cage mill when developing the
H series. “The H series cage mill was developed for brick plants that have the
need for a finer grind,” says Nawalaniec. “Those machines have really provided
a fundamental difference to the industry.”
First invented in 1980, the Grand Slam impactor was later equipped with heaters and air cannons specifically for the brick industry.
Stedman first began testing materials for
customers in the early 1900s. Then, as now, customers could send bulk samples
of their material to Stedman to determine the best size
reduction methods for their application. “That continues to be a real strength
of Stedman and how we help our customers,” says Nawalaniec. “We have full-size
equipment in our test plant, and we can give customers good data to make their
selections. There are no surprises in the field or in the factory-the crushers
work as promised because of the test results.”
The test plant also offers Stedman the opportunity to
provide customers with well-rounded, specific information regarding expected
performance and costs. “People scrutinize the data more carefully these days,
and they really rely on us to paint the picture technically from an application
standpoint,” explains Nawalaniec.
“They don’t want to just know the size of what’s coming out of the
size reduction machine-they also want to know what it’s going to cost them to
operate once they build a factory and have our machine in it. Our test methods
are very robust and are excellent predictors of the operating costs of the
machines in the factories.”
175 Years of Stedman
Focus on the Customer
No company could survive 175 years without having a deep
commitment to its customers, and Nawalaniec credits Stedman’s focus on customer
service as one of the reasons for its continued success. “Companies everywhere
are asking their employees to do more with
fewer people,” he explains. “The opportunity to provide a broader
offering of products and services has really emerged very strongly in the last
decade. We saw a need and have expanded what we can do for our customers.
Instead of just being a machinery supplier, we are taking it to a higher level
and providing solutions to problems in processing dry materials.”
Stedman created a new company, Innovative Processing
Solutions, in 2002 by spinning off the systems part of the business. “We built
complete plants even back in the 1930s,” says Nawalaniec. “Stedman’s history in
helping customers not just sell machinery but help them design a better system
and install the machinery properly directly led to the creation of this new
“The net result of being able to do more is that we started changing from being
just a vendor to a business partner. It’s a good feeling when what you know and
how you act and respond to your customers’ needs is valued by them. It’s such a
great mutual relationship to have.”
Stedman continues to strive to provide equipment
that will help brick manufacturers reduce their costs and power consumption
while improving downstream processes. The company utilizes leading design and
management software and, despite its long history, maintains the feel of a
young, modern company. “One of our goals is to help improve brick’s
competitiveness vs. other materials,” says Nawalaniec. “We have the ability to
quickly identify needs in product lines or services, and then move fast to make
improvements. It’s part of our company culture to move quickly on new ideas.
“You might think of mothballs or cobwebs after 175 years, but everyone at
Stedman really has an entrepreneurial spirit. We keep in mind that being 175
doesn’t guarantee that there will be a 176. It’s something we’ve got to earn.
With that kind of mindset, we’ll definitely continue moving forward.”
For more information, contact Stedman at 129 Franklin St., Aurora,
(800) 262-5401; fax (812) 926-3482; e-mail email@example.com
; or visit www.steadman-machine.com
SIDEBAR: Stedman's People
“Customers have high expectations of our
performance, and one way we try to live up to that is we have good employees,”
says Nawalaniec. “The people who work here are experienced and are always
thinking of a better way to do their job to benefit the customer.
“In the last year, we’ve sent supervisory and key personnel to over 1000 hours
of training. The crux of that training was really helping people become better
communicators, to express their ideas in positive ways. All of our field
service and sales people are MSHA [Mine Safety and Health Administration]
trained. We also have an in-house MSHA-certified trainer. Many of our
customers, and certainly our brick plant customers, are regulated by MSHA. It’s
a big investment for us, because we train about 25 people every year and it’s an
annual training. It’s got a direct benefit to the customer, though, because we
know the law of the land and we work safely.
“We also have two certified weld inspectors. It’s a big investment of time and
effort to become a certified weld inspector through the American Welding
Society. The welders here are AWS-qualified as well. These qualifications all
really help Stedman become more efficient in our factory and help us make sure
we’re consistent in our quality.
“On the design side, we spend a lot of time making things better, trying to
drive costs down and trying to help our customers reduce operating costs so
they’re more competitive.”