Kansas Profiles: Getting attached at Kipp
Those who own skid-steer loaders point out that these industrial machines can have many uses. Perhaps their only limitation is the type of equipment that can be attached to those skid steers. These attachments can pull posts, wind wire, cut trees, dig trenches, mix concrete and more.
Today we’ll learn about an innovative rural Kansas business that specializes in designing attachments for those skid steer loaders, while offering all the capabilities of a complete machine shop.
LeeRoy Douglas is the owner and founder of Douglas Welding and Machine in Kipp. LeeRoy and his wife, Mary, live in Kipp, near Salina. LeeRoy was working in a metal fabrication shop in Salina when he decided to start his own business in 1989.
Regan West is director of purchasing, sales and marketing for Douglas Machine and Welding today.
“LeeRoy started working in his garage,” Regan said. “When he outgrew that, he built a shop and it’s grown from there.”
When LeeRoy and Mary’s son Colby joined the company, they had the idea to build attachments to go on skid steers. Their first product was an attachment that enabled the skid steer to pull up a post or small tree. It worked so well that it has become Douglas Welding’s best-selling product. “Other people may sell a post puller that works like scissors, but ours works like hands to grasp the post,” Regan said. “It works so much better, you can’t compare.”
Douglas Welding and Machine, also known as DWM Attachments, continued to expand the type of skid steer attachments that it has developed.
“We offer more than 40 different attachments,” Regan said.
These include wire winders, various saws, stump grinders, mowers, trenchers, post-hole augers, corner-post setters, concrete mixers, buckets, backhoes, harrows, telebooms, bale spears, pallet forks, and more. New items include a tiller, tube grinder, and tree shovel.
Today, Douglas Welding and Machine specializes in fabrication of carbon steel products, including skid steer attachments and custom items. The machine shop offers CNC (computer numerically controlled), plasma-cutting, shearing, breaking, and full range fabrication capabilities.
In addition to attachments, Douglas Welding and Machine also produces products such as park benches, heavy-duty work benches, signs and other yard art, much of which is custom made.
“We are able to create our own designs, and we do everything from start to finish,” Regan said.
Other than the hydraulic motors, tubing, cylinders or bearings which they have to purchase, the fabricators can build most anything else themselves.
“We even make our own hoses,” Regan said. She is involved in many of the artistic products and is self-taught on the CNC equipment.
“Our software allows us to draw unique designs,” Regan said. “I do a lot of benches and custom signs for customers.”
Items can also be custom-made as gifts. Regan hopes to enhance the company website to enable e-commerce and encourage online purchases.
One regular customer is a contractor in North Carolina who uses the attachments to install playground equipment. Another interesting customer is in South Carolina. When a hurricane hit that state a couple of years ago, the business ordered a custom-made auger bucket that would fill sandbags to protect from hurricane damage.
The versatility of the uses for skid-steer attachments has created a major market opportunity for Douglas Welding and Machine.
“It’s incredible how we’ve grown,” Regan said. “Last year we had orders from Washington to Pennsylvania. December was our busiest month, and sales have tripled.”
It’s a remarkable record for a business based in a rural community such as Kipp, an unincorporated town with an unofficial population of perhaps 50 people. Now, that’s rural.
For more information, go to www.douglasweldingmachine.com.
Skid steers have many uses, limited only by the type of attachments such as those developed by Douglas Welding and Machine. We commend LeeRoy, Mary, and Colby Douglas, Regan West and all those involved with Douglas Welding and Machine who are making a difference with entrepreneurship and creativity. These are the types of rural businesses to which I feel quite an attachment.
— Ron Wilson is director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University. The mission of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development is to enhance rural development by helping rural people help themselves. The Kansas Profile radio series and columns are produced with assistance from the K-State Research and Extension Department of Communications News Media Services unit.