Leading-Edge Products in Two Separate Industries

Shivvers Manufacturing

Shivvers Manufacturing is a family-owned and operated company that provides two product lines, each to a distinct market: the Shivvers Counter-Flow Grain Dryers and the Country Clipper Zero-Turn Lawn Mowers. These products sell in two seasons, allowing the company to operate all year long.
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Founded in 1968 by Charles Shivvers, Shivvers Manufacturing designed energy efficient concepts and developed the very first commercially successful continuous-flow grain drying system. The original patented idea has remained competitive over the last fifty years while the product has thoroughly evolved.

“We build a highly efficient, quality product that is able to deliver high quality product in a drying system in today’s agriculture market,” says Carl Shivvers, the second generation owner and president of Shivvers Manufacturing. By 1984, the company developed the first computerized control system for drying grain called the CompuDry Command Center.

Grain dryers are used – and sell – during the harvest season in the fall, and in 1984, Shivvers had the resourceful idea to include a new product line that would sell in spring. It has been building zero turn mowers with unique features such as joystick steering and stand up decks. Shivvers Manufacturing designs and builds zero-turn mowers and accessories for residential homeowners, lawn care professionals and commercial operators.

The decision to incorporate the second product makes a lot of sense, particularly when considering the low population density in the small community of Corydon, Iowa where the company is located. When dealing with the limited local and regional workforce, Shivvers would have a much more difficult time finding employees if it only operated for part of the year. The alternating seasonalities of the products provided the company the opportunity to use its manufacturing capabilities and provide stable employment.

The population in the area is approximately 6,400, and Shivvers Manufacturing currently employs 120 people in its 120,000-square-foot facility eighty miles southeast of Des Moines, Iowa. The state has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the United States at this time. The productive, hands-on staff in this rural community are considered part of a family. Shivvers Manufacturing thinks very highly of them and has been able to retain its employees in a highly competitive market. The company strives to satisfy employees’ needs to keep its talented people content and fulfilled at work.

The grain drying division of Shivvers Manufacturing is looking forward to expanding into new markets in the northwestern United States and Canada shortly, and the company is also looking into the dryers being used for other commodities. “We are a component within a farmer’s or a company’s grain drying management system, and one of the key features to the Shivvers grain drying system is its flexibility within the farmer system. We’re going out and pursuing markets that are a little outside of the core corn and soybean market area,” says Bob Goltz, the national sales manager for the Shivvers Counter-Flow Grain Dryers.

The company is known for its industry-leading products. As the first manufacturer to develop both the counter-flow grain drying system and a computerized control system to control it, Shivvers Manufacturing aims to remain at the forefront of the industry. “We are the first company to come out with a computer-controlled system that actually regulates temperature based on the moisture of the grain,” says Goltz. The mechanical features of the original counter-flow grain drying system are still the most efficient today, yet the company has continued to improve the product over time.

It has developed patents that have been hallmarks of its development throughout the years. The original patent of the practical counter-flow drying system uses mathematical concepts that calculate how to remove a uniform layer of granular material from the bottom of a circular structure using an auger. During the process, the drying grain or granular material flows downward while the hot air that provides the energy to dry the product moves upward. The two moving in opposing directions leads to the efficiency of the product. The company has since found new ways to advance the product by increasing the speed and establishing better controls. Shivvers Manufacturing has held the patent for the computerized control system for seventeen years, and this is a significant patent that brought new progress for the control system of grain dryers.

Many new features have been introduced such as mobile technology and user-friendly controls. Customers can monitor and control the system from a mobile device, and the control system is now in its fifth generation of production, with a touchscreen and additional reprogrammable functions. The speed of the drying system has significantly increased; the newest grain drying product is twenty times faster than the original product.

Shivvers Manufacturing was also the first company to develop and patent the stand-up deck on the zero-turn lawn mowers, which allows for easier maintenance and serviceability. The Country Clipper Zero-Turn Mowers have a 360-degree turning radius that provides fast and precise turns. The company has added several value-enhancing features to its mowers throughout the decades. “These products are a continuous changing process. We are continuously improving our own processes in-house for increased efficiencies made to be really competitive in the manufacturing environments that we face,” says Carl.

Shivvers was one of the first eight manufacturers of zero-turn lawn mowers in the industry, and it now competes with over fifty brands of zero-turn mowers serving the United States. There are ongoing transitions to the design, the development and the manufacturing process of these products to meet the changing needs of residential and commercial users. Its zero-turn lawn mowers have improved tremendously in application, size and cost and can cut mowing time in half compared to a traditional lawn mower. The company provides a full spectrum of mowers, with a price range between 3,600 and 12,000 dollars, to serve both residential and agricultural or commercial customers.

All of the products for the zero-turn lawn mowers are manufactured in-house in Iowa and are distributed all over the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. “We would like to continue to grow and increase our market penetration as there is a lot of competition with over fifty brands in the marketplace, and we want to be able to continue to grow our market share,” says Blaine Fields, the national sales manager for the Country Clipper Zero-Turn Lawn Mowers.

The challenge for Shivvers Manufacturing is that the competition catches up quickly after the products are on the market. “We do carry one of the most efficient and better-performing systems from a quality standpoint, so the biggest challenge to me is just staying ahead of the competition and keeping the customer interested in the new features,” says Goltz.

The company has experienced ongoing growth throughout the years. In its initial phases, Shivvers Manufacturing grew at a fifty percent rate, and today, it has stable growth between five and ten percent per year. As the company strengthened its position in Corydon, Iowa, the Shivvers family chose to invest into this rural community whenever possible through donations and community involvement.

“A lot of our customers are businesses that are family owned, and it helps that we are a family-owned company and have been able to be a leader in both sides of the business as well as meet customers’ needs and exceeding those in many cases,” says Blaine.

The company plans to expand the capabilities of its facility even further as the competitive market grows. “We are proud to be a company that has taken a small community such as this and really create a lot of innovation that has been first time in the industry, in two completely separate industries and been able to be a leader in those industries from that standpoint,” says Goltz.

Working Smarter

A key goal of any successful manufacturing operation is a continual drive toward improving the efficiency of the manufacturing process. Traditionally, this has been accomplished through the adoption of lean production principles, waste reduction using the Six Sigma approach, and similar productivity solutions. These systems have been widely incorporated throughout the manufacturing industry and have significantly improved product quality, production speeds, and perhaps most importantly, the safety of those working in manufacturing plants.

Past Issues

October 15, 2019, 7:28 AM EDT