by Jon M. Casey
Since 1939, MASABA® (Formerly MASABA Mining Equipment) has established a reputation for material handling equipment in the aggregate and mining, agriculture, and port and terminal industries that is built to last, even under the most unforgiving conditions. From conveyors and truck unloaders to entire screening and washing systems for aggregate production plants, Masaba is able to design and build whatever their customers need. This fall, NAQN and WHEN magazines had the opportunity to visit Masaba’s manufacturing facility in Vermillion, SD where we were able to get a closer look at the craftsmanship that goes into every Masaba piece of equipment.
Host for our plant tour, Marketing Specialist, Steve Nelson, explained that the company started out as a sand and gravel mining operation in 1939. It was then that Harold Higman, Sr. began operations near Akron, SD. In the years following, Harold’s son, Harold, Jr., joined his father, working together in the sand and gravel operation.
It didn’t take him long to find that much of the equipment available for the mining industry at that time, did not stand up to the kind of daily punishment that aggregate mining gave to existing equipment. With this dissatisfaction in mind, and with a desire to build quality products for his own use and for sales to others, Harold Jr. began fabricating his own equipment. In 1962, Harold, Jr. formed Masaba Mining Equipment.
As family businesses frequently develop over time, Jerad, Harold Jr’s. son, went to work alongside his father in the Mining Equipment business. In 1999, Jerad Higman, took over Masaba as president and under his leadership, Masaba has continued to grow.
In 2005, the company moved its manufacturing enterprise from the original location to their current home in Vermillion. Since then, the company has developed a number of new products like the Magnum Telescoping Conveyor and the Low Profile Truck Unloaders, an innovative unit that is portable and easy to set up for a variety of truck unloading applications and is available in both 42 and 72-inch belt widths.
Masaba has found the need to expand their manufacturing facility. Nelson said that because of their success, the company not only expanded machining and fabrication operations in 2008 by 60,000-square-feet at the new location, but in 2010 they built another 50,000 square foot addition that included a state of the art blasting booth and two modern paint bays. Today, the overall manufacturing floor is approximately 210,000-square-feet.
While that was going on, Masaba established a Canadian branch in Brampton, Ontario. Growing demand for their equipment in the oil and natural gas production industries in that region, prompted that decision. In 2013, they moved that operation into a larger facility in Blue Mountain, Ontario. There, they are able to serve new and existing customers more effectively.
More recently, Masaba, changed its name from Masaba Mining Equipment to Masaba, Inc. Nelson said their sales growth into new markets like agriculture, shipping and port equipment, brought about the decision to update the name. Today, the company employs approximately 110 people and Masaba, Inc. works through a dealer network that covers most of the U.S., Canada, and other select international markets.
The company not only produces portable equipment like the Magnum Telescoping Radial Stacking Conveyor and the Portable Grizzly Feeder (like those staged outside the manufacturing plant awaiting shipment), but they also custom design and erect entire processing plants for customers who are looking for turnkey installations. He noted that the Magnum’s patented MASABA Track Technology, a system that provides a constant positive traction for the extension and retraction of the stinger section (unlike the pulley and cable winch systems found on other brand equipment), is a feature that customers especially like in a telescoping stacker.
Nelson emphasized that Masaba, Inc. is able to design and build processing plants using a variety of branded equipment that a customer might request. For example, customers can choose between several brands of cone crushers to be mounted on a Masaba chassis. Additionally, Masaba’s engineering department works closely with customers to design completely custom solutions across the material handling industry. For more information on Masaba, Inc. visit their website at www.MASABAINC.com or give them a call at 877-627-2220.