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Free Enterprise and Alibre Helps Stoltz Weather the Recession

With recession looming large and American industry and jobs taking hits every day, you don't hear many success stories. Americans don't sit on their heels and do nothing, so the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sponsored a video contest called 'I am Free Enterprise' and asked anyone who owns a business to sign up, make a YouTube video and submit it for a chance to up to $100,000 dollars in prize money.

Bernard Hershberger of STOLTZ Mfg., LLC in Morgantown PA is one of those Americans who doesn't let a little thing like the Great Recession get him down. Machines with big tires that are pulled with big tractors. Machines that go on off road trucks. Machines that mold and form the land into what Americans need. The kind of machines you design in Alibre Design Professional. When Hershberger heard the call from his local Chamber, he signed up and made a video, one that got over 1,400 hits in one week. Click here to watch the video on YouTube. "I didn't think may manufacturers would enter the contest, and thought that metal fabricators should at least be represented" said Hershberger.

Located in the Pennsylvania Dutch countryside of Lancaster PA, Stoltz has been making spreaders since 1945. The company designs and builds 2, 4, 5, 8 & 15 ton capacity lime and fertilizer spreaders for farmers, which are sold under the Stoltzfus Spreaders brand name. The company also manufactures cement spreaders, which are a line of 15 & 25 ton capacity pneumatic load spreaders sold under the Stoltz Site Spreader brand name. They are used by construction companies to spread high rates of dry Portland cement, lime or fly ash as part of the soil stabilization or soil modification process, which is a construction technique whereby undesirable soils can be improved in place to create cost effective road bases.

After taking control of the company in early 2009, Hershberger primarily focused on the products. "We took advantage of the slow economy to complete a major product improvement program for our agricultural spreaders, and Alibre Design was a major part of that", said Hershberger. Most noticeable to farmers is the improved hitch and heavier duty gearboxes the company introduced as standard equipment. However, Alibre Design was also used extensively for improvements in the structural and sheet metal areas, which will improve manufacturability and increase the service life of the spreaders.

Not content with only improving their farm equipment, Hershberger explains that "we put our cement spreader truck bodies through a major redesign using Alibre, which has significantly reduced both engineering and build times. This is really important since many of the bodies are customized to fit specific customer needs, and the quicker we can go through the customization process in engineering the quicker the shop can get started."

Stoltz also did a major redesign on both the hydraulic system and the controls on their cement spreaders. "Our new proprietary control system is much more user friendly than the off the shelf packages that we had to use in the past", said Hershberger. "The key to the new state of the art control system is that it senses the vehicle ground speed and constantly adjusts the spreader's discharge rate to maintain an even spread rate."

Hershberger is not alone in his quest to grow and succeed in this tight economy. He has a talented team that works alongside him: Tyler Martikainen-Watcke is lead designer. Ed Howell, PE, is the senior engineer on staff. Gary Lake, PE, leads the technical sales and marketing effort for these big, beautiful behemoths, and was instrumental in the initial design of the cement spreaders. "We are not alone", says Hershberger. "We have a talented team of welders, machine operators, painters and assemblers led by our shop foreman, Dave Nolt. Together they take the CAD designs and bend and weld them into reality."

"While we document current designs and look for areas of improvement," Tyler Martikainen-Watcke states, "our most important job is to customize our products to meet our customer's requirements. I use a lot of the sheet metal tools in Alibre, which are really nice to have in a software package that is this affordable."

The designers at Stoltz set up modular designs of sub-assemblies that can be customized to meet their customer's requirements. Their heavy duty construction style and ability to react quickly to customer demands are quickly making the company an industry leader in the farming and construction industries.

In his 16 months at the helm, Hershberger and his team have upgraded their building and created six new jobs in manufacturing and engineering. He believes that with hard work and integrity, manufacturing in the United States can have a bright future, and it is all thanks to free enterprise. Hershberger's believes that free enterprise allows him to work to make his company as profitable as possible, but that achieving that goal requires that he strive to provide good jobs and a safe and secure environment for his employees while simultaneously providing value and satisfaction to his customers. "It is traditionally thought that these three objectives conflict, but I believe that achieving all three is important to our long term success" said Hershberger. As he states at the end of his YouTube video, "I am Bernard Hershberger and I am FREE ENTERPRISE."