Officially, Schnell Industries Inc. was established in 1994 when Fred Dueck opened a farm equipment repair shop in a rented, 600 sq. ft. space in Plum Coulee, MB then known as Dueck Machining. In reality, what would become the well-known manufacturing enterprise began long before that.

“My dad is an inventor,” says Fred’s son Brent Dueck, now the president of Schnell Industries. “He had a burning desire to do his own thing and wanted something his family could be involved with.”

Saturdays at the Duecks’, Brent recalls, would sometimes become a sort of family production line, where everyone chipped in to help develop whatever Fred was building, such as stainless steel chimneys caps for wood stoves. Those were bonding moments – and experiences that ended up paying off down the road.

Eventually, Fred and a local farmer invented a conveyor system that could take the place of a combine auger. Those first roots and experiences in the conveyor world turned into what is now the Transloaders. Schnell Industries builds and is available in multiple configurations for rail yard transloading of granular products as well as larger materials up to 3” in size. These transloaders are the bread and butter of Schnell Industries.

Schnell’s innovative, entrepreneurial spirit has also resulted in additional product lines.

The patented Planter Hitches, for example, are manufactured to convert 2 point hitches to draw bar on John Deere, White/Agco and Case IH planters. The Sweep-All Turf Equipment is widely used to clean up turf parks at rec centres and schools, as well turf-surface stadiums. For the most part, Schnell’s growth has been organic.

“It’s just been reputation, word of mouth and good quality work,” says Dueck, describing the simple yet effective advertising strategy. “People talk, and so we have work.”

A lot of work, in fact.

In 2023, Schnell Industries was acquired by Mike Friesen, owner of Elmer’s Manufacturing of Altona, MB. Schnell is now working on most of Elmer’s’ products, such as the Super 7 Harrows, The Wolverine, Ditchers and the Ravage Bale Processors.

“We’re building those here in Winkler now,” says Dueck. “We have the ability.”

Schnell’s present shop – a 40,000 sq. ft. facility at 450 Roblin Blvd E in Winkler, MB – has considerable manufacturing capacity, although further expansion is already in the works. Expansion that will require recruitment.

“We’re building a big new powder coat shop,” Dueck explains. “It’ll be state-of-the-art and one of the largest capacities in the area. We’re going to need to hire people.” At nearly 30,000 Square feet and with the extra space in the new powder coat shop to add an additional assembly line, Schnell will be primed for more growth in the coming years.

Dueck says Schnell currently employs 80 people, and by early 2025 that number will approach 100. It’s a far cry from the three employees who struggled to find things to do during a tough period at the old Plum Coulee shop.

“Even those three guys were sitting on buckets in the shop,” remembers Dueck. “It was tough. It’s been a roller coaster. But the growth of the last three to four years has been massive, especially in the last year. It’s exciting.”

He may manage the company now, but even though he was the owner’s son, Dueck started out by mopping floors, wiping machines and performing other basic tasks. It was a hands-on education – a sort of extension of those Dueck family production lines – and one that saw him also work in assembly, as a welding supervisor and as HR.

“I wore all the hats,” says Dueck. “Now I’ve become more team-focused and try to delegate and trust my fellow management and employees.”

He also advises young entrepreneurs to pursue opportunities, even if they at first seem impossible, and to have the confidence to try. Dueck points out that they have the benefit of getting started in a region that embraces hard work and new ideas.

“This has got to be the entrepreneurial centre of Canada,” Dueck says of Winkler. “You see a lot always going on here.”

Prospective or existing customers can find out what’s going on at Schnell Industries by giving them a call at (204) 331-3050. They can also view the company’s line of products by visiting their website.