Strongsville, Ohio, USA, April 15, 2016 – Rafter Equipment Corporation has announced the retirement of company founder and former president, Walter Krenz. In 1988, Krenz and his two partners (Paul Rohde and Jack Brandli) purchased the Rafter Machine Company and relocated it to the Cleveland, Ohio area. The company was subsequently renamed to Rafter Equipment Corporation; however, Krenz’s story begins well before Rafter Equipment.
By 1973, Krenz advanced to Vice President of Manufacturing where he served for the next three years. In 1977, he became Yoder’s Vice President of Sales & Marketing. It’s safe to say that Krenz knew tube and pipe mill equipment as well as anybody in the tubing world by this point.
In 1986, Krenz and his partners first tried to buy Yoder from then owner The Northern Group, a Seattle investment company, when it was put up for sale. Although unsuccessful, the desire to be his own boss never faded and Rafter Equipment became a reality just two years later in 1988 as mentioned previously.
With Rafter, Krenz and his partners were determined to design new tube and pipe mills that were more robust and operator friendly. They brought a level of customization to the industry that had been sorely lacking. Over the past twenty-eight years, the company has built well over 100 tube & pipe mills and roll forming machines. In addition, the company has supplied hundreds more mill accessories (e.g., weld boxes, turkshead straighteners, etc.) as retrofits to existing machines.
“I too worked for Yoder for eleven years as a Sales Engineer,” said Mark Prasek, Rafter VP of Sales & Marketing. “It was after Walter had already left though. In my time, I essentially was competing with him. In all those years, I was only able to beat him once or maybe twice. In those cases however, I recall there were ‘extenuating circumstances’ that played a part in my minor success. Now at Rafter, I can see why he always seemed to run circles around me. He knows the equipment inside and out, and he knows what the customer needs.”
“Walter always pushed us to maintain a strong, conservative financial position,” said John Hostetler, Rafter CFO. “He always worked to retain quality employees to make it through the ups and downs associated with the manufacturing industry. It was this type of leadership that permitted a company like Rafter to survive years like 2009. As a result, Rafter learned how to become more efficient not only in manufacturing but also in administrative functions. We are a better company now.”
“Walter has been an influential and important part of the tube and pipe mill industry for 60 years, and his depth of experience from apprenticeship to ownership is truly an example of the American dream,” said Daniel Whitehill, Rafter President. “I would like to personally thank Walter, Paul Rhode, and Jack Brandli for their years of experience and the amount of knowledge they have passed on to me and the rest of the Rafter employees over the years. We will continue the Rafter name under the same principles these men set forth – rugged dependable equipment and dealing quickly and fairly with our customer’s needs. In addition, Walter will remain on the company Board of Directors and will still be available for consultation. His company email address will remain active.”
Krenz’s influence and contributions to the tube & pipe industry are no doubt significant. Although his talents and skills will surely be missed, he has paid his dues and has earned the right to now enjoy himself away from the industry.
Well-wishers are encouraged to leave comments for Walter using the below form.