When Craig Hess finished his first few days of hoof trimming, working beside his future father-in-law Bryce White, he declared “I will never do that for a living.” That was 1976 and he was working on White’s state-of-the-art upright chute.
In spite of this bold declaration, he ended up buying White’s chute and business and has spent his life working in the hoof trimming industry. He worked as a hoof trimmer and eventually as a hoof trimming instructor. He spent 17 years as an active professional trimmer and trainer while innovating, experimenting, and improving his chute and until he realized that he could build chutes for other trimmers and Appleton Steel was born!
Together, with his wife Becky, they started manufacturing chutes for his other trimmers out of his own two-car garage. As they say, if it is worth building, it is worth building in your garage! Craig soon discovered that trimmers loved innovation, so Craig carefully listened to ideas from other trimmers and made improvements on existing designs.
One of these designs was the Appleton Steel elevator chute. He later reconnected with his old friend Jeremy Smith, the original chute designer, to create many of the one-of-a-kind features on Appleton Steel chutes today.
From the family garage to a 25,000 square-foot manufacturing facility and 12,000 square-foot parts and assembly center, Appleton Steel continues to grow, expand, and innovate every day. Today Appleton Steel continues to research and develop new technology and features largely based on the comments received from active professional trimmers. Armed with these ideas Appleton continues to build an even better chute with each passing year.
Today, we have a new generation moving up the ranks to continue the Appleton tradition. John and Jeanette Ekins have joined us and are deeply committed to maintaining our reputation of quality and service that Craig has built over the years. John is our Chief Executive Officer and Jeanette is our new Senior Vice President. Together they bring a wealth of experience and a spirit of innovation that will keep Appleton Steel working and growing for years to come.