In 1963, Eugene Sukup, a farmer, purchased a new system for drying corn inside the same bin used for storing the grain. The following spring, he discovered pockets of grain in the bin that were beginning to overheat and spoil. He needed a way to break up these pockets. As a solution to the problem, he obtained a specially-designed auger, placed it on an electric drill, hung it from the top of the bin with a chain and loosened the hot spots so that they would dry more quickly. The auger worked so well that he began making them at a welding shop in Sheffield, Iowa. After the first sales, repeat business was slow, as no one wanted to carry the auger to the top of the bin and stay in the bin while the auger was working. To make a successful product, the auger had to be automatic. Mr. Sukup returned to the farm and, after careful thought, developed the labor-saving automatic Stirway -- which is very similar to the product that is still being sold today. This machine would automatically stir the complete bin of grain from top to bottom with less than 1% moisture variation anywhere in the bin.
The automatic stirring machines were immediately in demand, so patents were secured and Mr. Sukup began selling the stirring machines to dealers and companies. The welding shop was enlarged several times to facilitate additional manufacturing procedures. As the company grew, so did its product line. In the years to come, Airway Tubes were added to prevent moisture condensation and grain spoilage along the cold, steel bin wall. In 1968, the Foreway Continuous Flow Drying System was developed to speed up the drying process.
In 1969, a steel building was erected in the northeast corner of Sheffield to allow for more manufacturing space and future expansion. In 1973, the Sweepway Power Sweep was added to the line as a fast, easy method of unloading grain. The Spredway grain spreader was added that same year.
In 1974, Sukup announced a new line of Centrifugal Grain Drying Fans which provide more airflow at higher static pressures. In 1980, Sukup added a full range of efficient Vane Axial Fans and Heaters. Other products added to the Sukup product line since 1980 include the grain cleaner, Tube and Well Unloading Equipment, Cultivators, Guidance Systems, Bin Floors and Flooring Supports, Fastir Stirring Machines, FastDry Continuous Flow Drying Systems, AutoDry Millennium Computerized Moisture Controller and the Sukup Grain Dyer. The implement line was introduced to broaden the line of Sukup products. Products in the implement line are ideally suited to high residue, reduced tillage conditions, and include the 9400 High Residue Cultivator, 9420 Narrow Row Cultivator, 4200 Minimum Residue Cultivator, 4300 Minimum Residue Cultivator with depth band, Grain Drills, Flail Shredders,VPS3000 Variable Profile Subsoiler, and a drive-over hopper.
A key to Sukup Manufacturing Company's success has been its innovative ideas that have resulted in over 50 U.S. patents. Sukup is a market leader with their Fastir Stirring Machines, Sweepway Power Sweep Unloading Systems, Centrifugal Fans and Heaters, Axial Fans and Heaters, Bin Floors, Airway Tubes and Spredway Grain Spreaders holding the number one or number two spot in terms of market share for their respective product categories. In addition, Sukup sells approximately 50% of the stirring machines sold throughout the world.
Sukup Manufacturing Company is a family-owned company with Eugene Sukup serving as President from 1963 to 1995, and currently serving as Chairman of the Board. His wife, Mary Sukup, serves as Corporate Secretary. Their sons are also active in the business. Charles Sukup is President. Steven Sukup is Vice President and is also a member of the Iowa House of Representatives.
Sukup Manufacturing Company is still located in Sheffield, Iowa, the town where the first product was born in 1963. Sukup employs approximately 250 people and occupies 275,000 square feet of manufacturing facility in Sheffield. In addition, the company owns six distribution centers outside of Iowa.