At 13, I was working away in the basement here, pushing a metal wheelbarrow and collecting steel shavings from the machines and then taking them to the local recycling pit,” recalls Glenn Danuser, Co-Owner of Danuser, a family-run agricultural and industrial attachments manufacturer.
We recently sat down with Glenn to recount a long and successful career in manufacturing. “I grew up in the family business; that was my first ever job,” he goes on. “From there I kind of ‘graduated’ to mowing the lawn surrounding the property!”
You have to start somewhere. “Indeed, but I quickly progressed up the ladder,” remembers Glenn. “By the time I was in high school, I was working across different divisions – warehousing, shipping, packaging, tool and die, and assembly.
“That’s how I learned to read gauges and track to a thousandth of an inch, running the mills and lathes. I worked in every single department at the company, except for production.
“I didn’t weld, run a laser, or control a machine because there were much better people on-site to do that; it’s a specialist job. All our production team are well trained for that specific job. Rather, I did many different jobs with the aim of learning as much as possible.”
Though Glenn admits he’s often self-conscious of the fact that some would assume he left for college and then walked straight back into Danuser’s main office as CEO, he assures us that was definitely not the case.
“I was down on the shop floor, getting dirty doing all the grunt work,” he recounts. “I had a simple mindset: I’d do whatever it took to learn about the company and help it succeed.”
That mindset still pays dividends today. If someone is sick or can’t work in Danuser’s warehousing department, for instance, Glenn asserts he’s more than happy to jump in and crack on with the task that needs doing.
Not many business leaders are that keen to get their hands dirty. Now, though, Glenn’s main focus is on the sales, marketing, and engineering side of the business.
His sister and fellow Co-Owner of Danuser, Janea, runs the HR, accounting, and IT departments. “This setup keeps us both out of trouble!” laughs Glenn.
Family is obviously the lifeblood of the business. Fortunately, Glenn is more than happy to recall Danuser’s story, which begins back in 1910.
“In the beginning we weren’t even a manufacturer, really,” he readily admits. “My great grandfather, Kasper Berry Danuser, first came to this country in 1880. He produced the first piece of farm equipment to carry our name, a farm wagon built in Readsville Missouri, in 1905, before relocating to Auxvasse the following year.
“We have his original anvil proudly displayed in the front of our office; it’s sat on the same piece of wood he used to use,” Glenn smiles. “It’s unique and reminds us how far we’ve come.”
Reliable and robust machinery
When Glenn’s grandfather inherited the business, he took strides to upscale operations. Henry Danuser’s first product was a portable air compressor, before he designed and built a tree-moving machine.
“In 1941, my grandfather built the first rear-mounted blade in the United States for a tractor. From there, he continued to mass produce the first post hole digger in the country too.”
Danuser didn’t invent the digger. It didn’t even hold the patent. However, it was the first manufacturer to mass produce the product, which catapulted the family-owned firm to the fore of the market. Attachments, in their droves, followed, securing Danuser’s reputation for reliable and robust agricultural and industrial machinery.
“Things really took off in the 1940s and 50s – and they haven’t really stopped since,” admits Glenn. “Now my sister and I are the fourth generation to own the company, taking control in the early 2000s.”
When Glenn and Janea took ownership of Danuser, it was clear change was going to occur – a fresh approach to age-old infrastructure normally necessitates such.
“Janea and I formed a new management team with our Chief Engineer, Sales Manager, and Head of IT,” Glenn details. “My father had always said to live a nice, happy life, keep the revenue consistent, maintain our employee base, and keep it simple.
“But that wasn’t an option for us,” he continues. “The new team had bolder ideas. We set our sights on gold and went for the sky – no limits, just big plans.
“That’s when things really started to change. After talking to our distributors and partners, we put a plan in place to begin manufacturing like never before!
“Suddenly, Danuser was producing unique, patent-pending attachments, and finding our new niche in the process. The most important thing is we never gave up: since 1910 the Danuser name has been synonymous with quality.
“Other companies lose sight of what originally made them stand out from the competition,” explains Glenn. “This becomes especially apparent as the years go by and companies begin to grow in size; they cut costs and corners.”
Danuser refuses to do that. “We have a reputation – and, more importantly, we’re a family,” Glenn professes. “In my book, that stands for something. I have two children, so one day our company might be headed up by a fifth-generation owner; I want them to be proud of the company they inherit – and reputation will play a big part in that.”
Recently, Danuser has begun the process of acquiring a new powder coat facility. The project will add another 50,000 square feet of space to the company’s existing portfolio. But it will also represent an additional 50 percent of total capacity.
“It will be huge for us going forward,” observes Glenn. “It’s going to be big and it’s going to be robust. We don’t know what we’re going to build over the next hundred years, so we’re covering all bases by going big!
“It will ultimately give us the flexibility we need as we continue to expand and meet increasing demands for our products,” he concludes. “The new facility will be more economic and better for the environment, so it’s a win-win. Watch this space because exciting things are coming!”