Where Past Meets Present

RCHS Spotlight on Business: The Schlueter Company

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Pictured above: The Losching Family, left to right: Mark, David, Holly, Brad, Sue and Stephanie. Photo by Megan O’Leary.

100 Years of Engineering and Manufacturing

By Teresa Nguyen
RCHS History Teller

100 years of Business

If one considers an entire century of business evolution, America has witnessed amazing growth from the economic blossom of the industrial era, when salesmen traveled city to city in bumpy Model T cars, to meetings fresh off international flights. Businesses have evolved from serving only local folks or other nearby cities to incredible global expansions, to a time when sales are easily made over the internet.

All the while, The Schlueter Company of Janesville, Wisconsin has grown as a leading manufacturer and distributor of dairy equipment both locally and worldwide, meeting the changing needs of dairy production. Using the latest in technology, the company has emphasized energy efficiency, labor reduction, and low prices.

The Schlueter Company has also been a dynamic leader in engineering and manufacturing food plant equipment and continues to expand its market with innovative, state of the art products. To learn more, visit the company’s website.

How It All Began

1919 – Schlueter Boiler Works at 310 N Main St, corner of Main and Centerway, in Janesville is founded by Alfred W. Schlueter with the purpose to build and service boilers used in the many cheese factories and milk condenseries in Wisconsin and Illinois.

1935 – The Grade A Milk Program out of Chicago mandates stainless wash tank in each farmer’s milk house. Schlueter begins manufacturing wash tanks and additional milk house equipment needs.

1940 – B.H. (Bud) Losching, son-in-law of Alfred, joins the company introducing new wash tanks and power brush washers for cleaning tubing used in dairy processing plants.

Bud Losching, on left, at Schlueter Boiler Works

Bud Losching, on left, at Schlueter Boiler Works

The Great War Brings Change

World War II – Schlueter Company employs 25 men who work day and night, 50-60 hours a week, to fill government war production orders. Milk used in WWII Service Camps must be processed in equipment washed with Schlueter washers.

1943 – The original name of the company is officially changed to The Schlueter Company. Alfred purchases the adjoining property at corner of Parker Dr. and Centerway and builds a large addition to expand the manufacturing facility. Office attached also at 112 E Centerway.

A Business Boom

1950 – Dairy farm market for wash tanks increases. The Schlueter Company flourishes with both manufacturing and a distribution supply service to milking machine dealers and food processors.

1959 – On November 11, a devastating fire breaks out at The Schlueter Company. 26 firefighters battle the blaze and the fire guts the second floor. Firefighter, William J. Finnane, is killed in the line of duty.

1960’s – Bernard A. Losching, son of B.H. (Bud) Losching joins the company. The Schlueter Company begins selling full-scale milking equipment and begin venturing into more dairy supplies.

1970 – The Schlueter Company purchases another adjoining property at corner of Pease Court and Main Street, building that had previously been Midwest Camera.

1970’s – Brad W. Losching and Holly J. Losching, brother and sister to Bernard, join the firm. Brad takes over marketing dairy farm products.

An American Farm Tool sign hangs inside Enginaire

An American Farm Tool sign hangs inside Enginaire

The Purchase of an Air Filtration Subsidiary

1980 – Schlueter Company purchases the plant known as Decker Manufacturing, located in the old Samson Tractor building in Janesville built downtown in 1912, at 122 River St. The company becomes American Farm Implement and Specialty, and Enginaire, a leading manufacturer of air filtration products for diesel engine applications and producer of stainless milk filters and Schlueter marketed products.

Early 1980’s – With the many products providing vast dairy supplies, Brad and his brother scour the world over for parts to distribute and purchase. The 70’s and early 80’s bring the first Schlueter Company Milking Equipment and Dairy Supply catalogs to meet dairy dealership needs nationwide and internationally. Food plant equipment expands into Ultraviolet air and water purification systems and wastewater separator screening applications.

New Distribution Centers

Mid 1980’s – The Schlueter Company meets growing demand opening distribution centers in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and in Fresno, California. Manufacturing continues in Janesville, Wisconsin.

1990’s – Both Schlueter Company and Enginaire grow and expand. Enginaire manufactures engine filtration for commercial lawn mowers, wood chippers, construction trucks, agricultural combines, plus oil and gas and mining equipment. Customers include Caterpillar, Cummins, Komatsu and John Deere. Schlueter continues expanding in dairy equipment, and Schlueter Plant Equipment sells Rotary Drum Screens to poultry, hog and beef plants and continues with food processing washing equipment.

1993 – Brad Losching becomes President of The Schlueter Company.

2010 – Brad’s son, David Losching, joins the business in distribution and warehousing management.

2015 – Brad’s son, Mark Losching, Marketing Director, joins the business. Mark grows Enginaire manufacturing for the mining industry and takes over the companies’ online presence and service.

Visit Enginaire’s YouTube channel to view demonstrations on how their products work

Mark with the new Calf 35

Mark with the new Calf 35

2019 – A high tech, cow-friendly milking system is marketed at Schlueter Company with hopes of increased sales to dairy farms. With new technology, Mark plans to expand the business to serve the microbrewery industry.

Brad and Mark continue to lead and grow Schlueter Company and Enginaire into the future by increasing market share in air filtration with innovative engine filtration and operator cabin filtering and pressurizing designs for multitude of diesel engine markets.

Expanding the Food Processing Business

As well as dairy equipment and supplies, Schlueter finds success selling filtration products for dairy, food and wastewater applications, COP and CIP washing for food, beverage and pharmaceutical, Ultraviolet air and water purification systems and plans to expand marketing to brewery, winery and distillery industries.

The Schlueter Company and its employees continue to grow the business with innovative new products.

Brad Losching, Schlueter Company President

Brad Losching

Brad Losching

My grandfather started the business in 1919 and, at that time, he sold boilers primarily to cheese plants. There were cheese plants in every Wisconsin town back then.

He lived on Harding Street and would walk a couple of blocks to work.

My father had an Electrical Engineering degree from UW Madison. When he got into the business around World War II, he primarily worked on food processing equipment, COP and CIP systems for washing dairy plant equipment. We started to sell dairy chemicals, milk filters and dairy supplies.

There had only been two fabricators of stainless-steel wash tanks in the country, and they both were in Janesville. One was ours and the other was Rath Manufacturing.

The greater need for larger dairy production milking equipment really didn’t start until the 1950’s. Before then, cows were milked only by hand.

Did you grow up around the business?

I worked in our warehouse as a young man, resurfaced blacktops, painted buildings and such. We did a lot of construction. When you own buildings, you have to keep them running.

My brother, Bernard, got involved in the late 1960’s. He developed the milking equipment, buying components from New Zealand and Germany.

I attended UW Madison earning degrees in Accounting, Marketing and International Business. I graduated on the 21st of December, 1978, and started working at The Schlueter Company on the 23rd.

When I came on board, we were in a building at the Five Points, what was called Bowman Dairy. We were there until about 1993. It’s an open lot today. After that, we moved to an indoor tennis facility by Target on Bell Street. It’s now back to an indoor sports facility. I moved down to the Schlueter Company building around 2010.

In 1980, we purchased Decker Manufacturing, which became American Farm Implement and Specialty, and Enginaire, where Bernard took over and built a sales strategy there.

My brother then gave me the business he was running. I was really in charge of the dairy equipment side of the business. In 1982, I released the first Schlueter Company Milking Equipment and Dairy Supply catalog, shipped out to 1500 dealers throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Cover of one of the company catalogs

Cover of one of the company catalogs

How did you manage to fill all those orders?

The 1980’s saw a demand in dairy equipment so we expanded our distribution business. Every day we had different orders from different places. So, in 1983 we opened a warehouse in Pennsylvania and one in California in 1984.

Meanwhile, the food processing side of the business continued at The Schlueter Company. The electronic panels to run food plant washing equipment at that time were a nightmare. So, we sold part of our washing equipment business to a company called Sani-matic, which was our label. They are still in business today in Madison. We continued with Safgard as our label.

We waited for a few years before getting back into the washing equipment business. The PLC electronics are so much better today with less wiring.

Stainless Steel Schlueter Tanks

Stainless Steel Schlueter Tanks

What led you to where you are today?

My father stayed in the CIP and COP business until he became incapacitated in the mid-90’s. In 1993, I became president of the company.

More recently, I’ve taken over the food processing side of the business, even though I think my father thought I would expand the dairy business.

We still make about 99% of all inline filters for dairy farm applications and we hold a good percentage of filtering for food processing applications.

How have the recent dairy industry struggles affected your business?

The industry has been a disaster for the last four years. It’s really tight at the moment. I don’t know if the dairy issues will get resolved anytime soon as the pricing to farmers does not allow them to make money. Also, the processors of fluid milk are dealing with less milk consumption.

With that, I’ve moved some dairy sales people into selling air pre-cleaners and diesel air filtration. There is more potential in that business. We’ve invested a great deal toward the manufacturing of the Enginaire air pre-cleaner equipment.

Enginaire filter canisters for large engines

Enginaire filter canisters for large engines

You are a worldwide business, tell me about that.

We always have been, actually. We have purchased equipment from 20 or so different countries and probably sold to as many as 40 different countries.

In our air filtration business, one of our largest is Komatsu, a Japanese Company, and our third or fourth largest customers are the distributors in Europe. In the dairy industry we sell to many countries around the world.

Tell me about some of your community involvement.

My father was always active and involved. He was on the Janesville School Board forever. It didn’t always work out as well for him as it could have. That has made me shy away from that type of involvement.

Over the years, I have been an active alum of my college fraternity, Phi Delta Theta, at UW Madison. Paul Ryan’s dad had asked me to get involved with starting it up again. I was pledge number one and president, as well.

When my kids were younger, I coached Mark and our daughter, Stephanie, in basketball. I had also played at Craig, so have a love for the sport, and coached both of their YMCA and AAU travel teams. That was a huge commitment.

My work keeps me too busy these days, but I certainly know what’s happening in Janesville. I have business owner friends who are involved, and I’m seeing the changes in our community.

Employees at Schlueter Co.

Employees at Schlueter Co.

It seems like there’s a close sense of community among the employees at Schlueter and Enginaire. Why do you think that is?

Over the years, The Schlueter Company has employed multiple generations of family members. We might hire an employee, then later the wife joins us and eventually their children work for the company.

The son of one of our sales guys works for us now, as well. He is in Janesville while his parents work for me in California. We have quite a few families here.

They have a lot of history in their time together here, through work, through social outings and things they do together. We used to do a lot of employee gatherings, then they went out of vogue, but now they’re coming back again. We are returning to the social events.

The people stay because they are happy here. Our turnover is really low. Many Schlueter Company employees have been here for decades. Some have moved to California to work at our distribution office there, or others we moved to Pennsylvania, but some have come back to Janesville as they continue loving Wisconsin.

We are all pretty connected. You need to have good people to rely on to keep the manufacturing running smoothly, so you had better treat them all with respect!

The Schlueter Company - Photo by Megan O'Leary

The Schlueter Company – Photo by Megan O’Leary

Congratulations on celebrating your company’s 100th Anniversary! Can you reflect on where you are and where the company is going?

Because the world has evolved, we’ve had good years and bad years, especially with the dairy industry’s fluctuation. Over a 40-year period, there have been three or four downers. This past year has been tough. On the other hand, we had the best year ever in air filtration! There’s good with the bad.

You have to keep looking for new ideas and think of new ways to fabricate. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but you have to keep pushing the wheel down the road.

We have a new milking machine, the Calf 35, built to make “happy cows,” that could change the entire milking industry! If we can shave even 10% off the time of milking, we can really help the industry. And the animal benefit is phenomenal.

We’re looking forward.

Do you plan to continue working with the company?

Oh yes, I’m here well into the future. It’s kind of crazy to see other companies force their employees to retire at 63 or 65. My game plan has always been to keep working. I think working to 75 is a good goal.

“You have to keep looking for new ideas and think of new ways to fabricate. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but you have to keep pushing the wheel down the road.”
~ Brad Losching

Mark Losching, Marketing Director

Mark Losching

Mark Losching

I’ve been at the company nearly four years now, but I grew up around the business. As a young man, I built a great relationship with Bill Decker, head of Enginaire. He’s a great manager and mentor for me.

My father thought that it would be good for me to work for a different manager, someone outside the family. Back then, I did roofing and painting projects, then in my college years I began doing engineering research for Enginaire.

I graduated from Miami University in Ohio with a dual degree in Finance and Supply Chain Management and a minor in Mandarin Chinese.

Did you and your brother always have an interest in working in the business?

Yes. My grandpa really set it up as a family business in terms of giving a little stake to the grandchildren and splitting the business between us.

I was encouraged to get outside experience first. Out of college I spent three years in downtown Chicago working in the corporate world for a supply-chain software company. They were acting as outsourced teams to Coca Cola, Subway, John Deere, Starbucks and more.

I became an account manager, saw that I liked the face-to-face customer side of the business. I saw how big businesses, shippers ran and operated their global and national businesses.

Did you have the intention of coming back to Schlueter?

I did, but I didn’t feel too much pressure from the family. It was always a dream of mine. I always found a passion for the business because of its family history. I see it as an opportunity, as a platform to learn the industries and to plan where we’ll be going in the future.

Marketing Director Mark Losching with some of the raw materials

Marketing Director Mark Losching with some of the raw materials

What brought you back?

After a couple of years in Chicago, our president of Enginaire, Bill Decker, asked me to dinner and said Enginaire had a new line of developed products and they were poised for a really strong growth spurt. He saw himself as a really good leader, manager, an engineer and developer, but not as strong as a sales and marketing manager.

My dad was also at that dinner, and though he didn’t want to be in the middle of the relationship, he did encourage me saying, “It’s your gig.”

My mother encouraged me, as well. I was really excited about the offer and found it neat that I would be working in that part of the family business. I was happy to step in as someone who knows the business and who had a good relationship with Bill.

It really fit my skill set.

Has the Chinese language study been useful for your work?

Yes, somewhat. I’ll soon be starting some weekly lessons, since it’s been a couple of years since I studied the language. I’m very conversational, so if I travel to China, I could get around the city or order from a menu in a restaurant. But as far as having a full-blown conversation and understanding, there’s more work to be done.

In college I traveled to Asia and Mexico numerous times. Now with work, I have visited trade shows in Paris, France and will be traveling to Germany and hopefully Japan to visit Komatsu. I plan to expand our business to China. My background in Chinese language will help me with that.

Enginaire manufactures for a wide variety of customers

Enginaire manufactures for a wide variety of customers

Tell me about Enginaire.

I work as the Sales and Marketing Manager for the companies, so I go back and forth between Schlueter Company and Enginaire. We hold a lot of meetings at Enginaire.

Many of the larger air pre-cleaners go to the oil industry in Texas, whereas the mid-sized pre-cleaners go to bulldozers and forestry equipment, etc. The smaller, plastic air pre-cleaners go to companies like wood chipping manufacturers and lawn mower manufacturers.

Our air cleaners and pre-cleaners are sized by the size of the engine. One of the reasons companies such as Cummins and Caterpillar like us, those who make engines for the drilling industry, is that they require very large sizes and we accommodate them.

As a mid-sized business with custom manufacturing, design and 3-D drawing, we have a quicker turnaround time than larger companies. We can engineer things in a wide variety of different ways. We also sell entire kits, adapters and all, so that it’s not just a product without the parts. It’s a way of integrating everything easily onto our customers different machines.

The Cabaire cab filters keep the air clean in the cabs of mining trucks, keeping the dust out for the workers. It’s an emerging product for all vehicle cabs in construction or any dusty environment where operators are enclosed in cabs, and recently has been a topic given new OSHA regulations around silica dust, a dangerous sub-micronic dust particle that affects construction workers greatly.

Cab Pressurization equipment

Cab Pressurization equipment

We sell cabin pressurizers to the mining companies, as well as nut harvesting and orchard equipment manufacturers in California.

Our products are also on all the concrete mixers made by Terex, the second leading cement mixer manufacturer.

Our newest manufacturing is in full stainless and full metal cabin air filters for firefighting bulldozers to keep out the dust and embers. They’re made to be durable and won’t melt in the heat. We’re taking our clean-air innovations and adding spark arresters, a device which prevents the emission of flammable debris from combustion sources. This will help the firefighters stay safe while operating their equipment.

Shipments heading to Thailand, China and the US

Shipments heading to Thailand, China and the US

Does the company ship its products from here, as well?

Yes, the products are manufactured here in Janesville with the raw materials and supplies, then tested here with a cab simulator or airflow bench and finally shipped out.

Things are going well. We just had our biggest year ever.

Tell me about some of your employees.

John Ceslok paints for Enginaire

John Ceslok paints for Enginaire

Employee John Adams works on cab pressurizers

Employee John Adams works on cab pressurizers

At Enginaire, the workforce is a bit younger, so a younger culture. They hire out of a lot of temp agencies and then bring them on full time.

One of our long time, valuable employees, John Ceslok, has been working 29 years for the company. He paints and assembles air filtration systems, to ready them for shipping. He paints small parts and large, some as heavy as 70 lbs. Those that are painted black usually go to Komatsu or John Deere.

John Adams has been at Enginaire for around six years. He works on cab pressurizers, customizing the parts to meet vibration standards. The less vibration, the better for the customer. It takes patience to work on the fans. When he started, we were making about 15 to 20 a day and now, we make about 100 a day!

One employee, Jack Egerstaffer, has been working for the company for 10 years. He works with stainless steel, he is a grinder, does window working and carpentry to insulate the Enginaire building.

We try to get to know our employees, make them feel welcome, valued and appreciated for the work they do.

Where do you see the companies going in the future?

I’m eager to bring a youthful perspective to the business. I am upgrading the digital marketing and website, as well as our catalogs. I think we’re positioned in enough different industries that we can really find success. We can use our business background to choose our future direction.

We’re hoping to bring in a new, younger generation of staff, as well. I feel that we need to create an enthusiastic work environment so you’re engaging them and making them feel that they’re a true part of the program you’re running. We plan on growing so we’ll need new employees in business sales, engineering and manufacturing.

I’ll be covering some of the territory, going to trade shows, meeting with dozens of people at events, networking and expanding the marketing.

We have established a great business over these past 100 years serving the food, beverage, dairy, hog, poultry, wastewater and filtration industries. I see us as a long-standing success story from Wisconsin, which defines a lot of what Wisconsin stands for; being the dairy state and a food processing and brewery state.

Multi-Tank CIP

Multi-Tank CIP

This year I’m creating a catalog for the microbrewery, distillery and winery markets. We have a lot of the products that are needed by microbreweries. There is more of a demand for new equipment and new things in some of those markets than solely in dairy.

A big goal of mine is to make our online and digital catalog and service more live and accessible, hopefully moving to quick online orders and more search engine functionality.

I’m also eager to become involved in community activities, to join some community organizations and to be a part of what’s happening with downtown development. I am an active member in the new Join Janesville Young Professionals Organization.

“I feel that we need to create an enthusiastic work environment so you’re engaging them (the employees) and making them feel that they’re a true part of the program you’re running.”
~ Mark Losching

Holly Losching, Director of Purchasing

Holly Losching

Holly Losching

I’ve been with the company officially for 43 years. But, for most of my life, even as a little girl, I used to come put catalogs together every Christmas and Easter vacation and in summers. Those were things that had to be done, but no one else wanted to do them!

Tell me about your military service.

I was in the U.S. Army, stationed in Germany, Indiana and Virginia.

What brought you back, how did you come to The Schlueter Company?

After the Army, I was looking for a job and my dad told me that he had a fellow in purchasing who was going to retire. So, considering my background and familiarity with the work, he asked if I wanted the position.

When I started, everything was manual. There was no digital information. I kept records, typed it all up, made carbon copies, etc. The computer system has certainly made things easier!

Some of the many products manufactured by Schlueter Co and Enginaire

Some of the many products manufactured by Schlueter Co and Enginaire

What are some of your more challenging responsibilities?

When companies quit manufacturing parts, I need to go find them from somewhere else! Sometimes the internet is helpful and sometimes not. But I’ve learned the ropes and know what to do.

Do you plan to continue on at Schlueter Company?

They’d be lost without me. If I retired, what would I do … watch TV? I’ve been working all my life, I wouldn’t know what to do!

Brad and Sue Losching

Brad and Sue Losching

Sue Losching, Former Speech and Language Program Support Teacher for the School District of Beloit, Wife and Mother

Brad and I met at UW Madison. I knew he had a family business, but didn’t know if he would go into it because he was a triple major in Accounting, Marketing and International Business. He had already interviewed for accounting firms. Then, at the end of senior year, his father came to him asking him to join The Schlueter Company. He saw the importance of working in the family business.

At that time, I was going to graduate school for Speech Therapy. So, Brad went back to Janesville while I finished my degree in Madison. When I graduated, we got married in 1980, and I came to Janesville.

What did you think of coming here?

Well, Brad’s and my life had been in Madison. I would come down here to see his family. I didn’t know much about the business, but I was in love with Brad Losching, so I was going to move to Janesville.

At UW, I was a really good student and could have gone anywhere in my career. My friends were going to Children’s Hospital in Boston, to Chicago and a lot of places. And I was going to Janesville. No one could believe that I was coming back here and going to work in schools.

Funny story, in my final year of graduate school, we did these little skits about each other. They did one for me called, “Doomed to Janesville.” That was their perception. But, at the time, I didn’t look at it as a sacrifice, I wanted to be with Brad.

How did your perception of the family business evolve?

When I first came here, I knew nothing about this industry. My father had worked in big industry, he was a Metallurgical Engineer, in the foundry industry. I had gone on road trips with my dad when he made calls to big cities, and we’d pull up to these big beautiful buildings.

From a Schlueter dairy equipment catalog

From a Schlueter dairy equipment catalog

My first trip with Brad was to West Virginia. We pulled up to a farm, there were animals everywhere and chickens coming up to your legs. Then “Elmer” came out in his bib overalls. I thought, “This is a business call?” It was so different for me!

One of the first times I got to know the people of the industry and to really appreciate the family atmosphere of it all was back in 1988 when Brad ran a special promotion. It was a two-year program, where the dairy dealers could earn a trip to Germany.

We took two busloads of his top dairy dealers to Germany for Oktoberfest that year. I got to know them on this trip. These dealers were also farmers, so for them to have left their farms for those two weeks was a challenge. Those cows still needed to be milked and chores needed to get done!

There were fathers and sons on this trip. Many of the wives also went, women who worked side by side with the men in the fields. These dairymen all knew the business and knew each other, they had a special camaraderie. It was very enlightening to me.

My role in all of this has been to be the mother and the wife, the connection to the community. Today, I’m the one encouraging Brad to take more breaks, to go on vacation in Florida more often and leave things in Mark’s hands.

Though I have never taken an active role in the business, I have seen the business from the inside as well as the outside.

Where did your career take you after graduate school?

I started out in the Beloit Turner School District. Then had a one-year stint in the Janesville district. After that, I went back to Beloit as the Program Support Teacher, coordinating Speech and Language in Beloit.

That was mostly part-time, as I was raising my children. They were able to accommodate my three days a week. I was still working when I had Mark.

What happened after that?

What happened to me career-wise was that there was a big split in my children’s ages. So, David was at middle school, Stephanie in elementary and Mark was at Rock Prairie Montessori. When Mark entered kindergarten, it became evident to me that I no longer needed a daycare provider, but rather a driver! My children became involved in so many activities.

At the same time, Special Education required more and more paperwork, especially as the coordinator. I was coming home in the evenings to three backpacks at the door, Stephanie would need to go to dance, David would have to go to music, Mark was already involved in things.

Brad was on the road a lot with his work, before they expanded with distributors in other states. So, it got to the point that Brad and I decided it was better for me to stay home.

Through the years, I was a dance mom, a basketball mom, a PTO member … very involved with my children’s activities.

Tell me about your community involvement.

When I was younger, I was involved in the Junior Women’s Club, now the Women’s Club. At the time there was an age cutoff. I became president of the club.

When I first came to town, I served on the YWCA Board of Directors, back in the Gloria Ziegler days.

I also served on the AAUW Board, the American Association of University Women, which empowers women as individuals and as a community. It is 130-year-old non-profit organization that advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, and research.

There was a Janesville chapter of AAUW. My mother was involved in AAUW in Janesville. As a young girl, I remember her going off to meetings. She was a positive influence on me. There were a lot of prominent Janesville teachers involved in that organization.

They still hold an AAUW book sale every year down at Olde Towne Mall.

I think I was president of each of my children’s PTO, and at every age. Probably because of my special ed background and my love of education, this led to my involvement. Education was really my focus.

More recently, I served as President of the University of Wisconsin Rock County Foundation Board. Most things I’ve done had to do with education.

The Loschings of The Schlueter Co.

The Loschings of The Schlueter Co. Photo by Megan O’Leary.

Now two of your three children work for the family business. What is that like for you?

Yes, my sons, David and Mark work at Schlueter Company. My daughter, Stephanie, went into business and into law. Of course, with any family business there are pros and cons.

There’s never a dinner out, a Thanksgiving or Christmas that doesn’t involve business. There’s always conversation around the business.

It was important to me that David came back, after doing musical theater, to be with his daughter here. I’m glad he became a part of the business. And I knew that Mark had the appropriate skill set needed to further the growth of the company.

I was instrumental in bringing him back, realizing there wasn’t young blood in the business and that Brad needed Mark to help with the technology side of things. I encouraged Mark, telling him that if he wanted to learn the business he needed to join at that time. I saw it as an opportunity for Mark to lead the business into the future.

Where do you see our community today?

For my kids, or any, it’s not easy to be a young person here. In the big cities, Chicago and Minneapolis, it’s not uncommon to be 35 and single. But here it’s not the norm. It’s slowly changing for the better, for young professionals.

Now, my daughter is leading the Young Professionals group, and I’m encouraging Mark and David as they become more involved in more community groups to be a part of what’s happening in the downtown development.

We’ve invested in upkeep on the Schlueter and Enginaire historical buildings. We feel that with the downtown revitalization, it’s highly important to keep the lines of communication open, to involve all the downtown property owners in the discussions moving forward.

What goes through your mind as you think of The Schlueter Company celebrating 100 years?

There’s a saying about family businesses that goes, “The first generation starts the idea, the second builds it, the third generation loses it.” But, with The Schlueter Company, that’s certainly not the case. Especially when you have someone like Brad Losching at the helm. He is very fiscally conservative, very responsible.

How do you see the business moving forward?

When you think about the ebb and flow of the dairy industry over the years, many have not made it. When Brad graduated from college, there were 300,000 farms, in 1995, there were 60,000.

It’s a stressful industry, especially because of its dependency on government funding. Now, with the tariffs, it has really affected things. It’s been disappointing for Brad, who has built up that side of the business. It’s kind of personal for him.

But, with the new Calf 35, built to make “happy cows,” I see how much Brad looks to Mark and enjoy seeing their enthusiasm for this latest project. Last week Mark went on a sales call to sell one of these systems. They were texting back and forth. Brad, who likes to be in control of things, said to me, “See, Sue? I didn’t go, I let Mark go. I had nothing to do with this and he handled it on his own.”

Enginaire

Enginaire. Photo by Megan O’Leary.

But moving forward, it’s because of those very challenges in dairy that the company is increasing the food-processing and the Enginaire side of the business.

They’re being innovative and evolving, taking their resources and allocating them toward something new. They’re working toward growing The Schlueter Company as a leading manufacturer of clean filtration for the food, beverage and engine industries.

“There’s a saying about family businesses that goes, “The first generation starts the idea, the second builds it, the third generation loses it.” But, with The Schlueter Company, that’s certainly not the case. Especially when you have someone like Brad Losching at the helm.”
~ Sue Losching


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