Case Studies

Thern Inc.: Leave the Heavy Lifting to Them

  • Written by: Thern Inc.: Leave the Heavy Lifting to Them
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Royal G. Thern and his wife Lucille settled in Winona, Minn., right on the tail end of the Mississippi River, during the wake of World War II. The pair was ready to make a new start during the post-war economic boom, and in 1948 Royal and Lucille created the first equipment of their new lifting, pulling and positioning solutions business. The tools were a humble handful at the outset, including a corn sheller, lever-operated chain hoist, cordwood saw frame and a differential chain hoist. However, basic winches and miscellaneous products provided the foundation for Thern Inc. (Thern) to build upon.

Sixty years later, Thern remains family-owned and -operated and continues to manufacture and distribute load-bearing solutions for a multitude of sectors worldwide, including bulk handling, construction, government/defense, manufacturing, mining, oil and gas, theater, utilities and power generation, plus water and wastewater. Royal and Lucille’s grandsons – Tedd Morgan, current president, and Chris Baudhuin, executive vice president – run the company and they remain dedicated to assuring superior quality is designed into every hand winch, power winch, air winch and crane.

“We manufacture the majority of our products in-house, but we have a set network of suppliers we work with regularly, mostly for steel and gear boxes for the winches,” says Nick Lakin, marketing manager of Thern. The company employs 120 staff members at its one location in Winona but has distributors throughout the nation to supply an ever-increasing clientele through Thern’s extensive selection of off-the-shelf models and the ability to design custom solutions.

Since the company ships cranes and winches worldwide Thern’s client base is nothing short of diverse. A large part of the company’s business is supplying to the construction industry, but it’s also a staple supplier in the entertainment world as well. “We have a very active theater division, and provide everything from curtain tracks to motorized hoists for performance stages across the country,” says Lakin.

From Stage Rigging to Oil Rigging

A fully company-owned and -operated theatre division, Thern Stage Equipment, does have high-quality curtain tracks and loft block systems, but the real showpiece is its stage rigging system. Balance is essential to the performance of theatre equipment, and Thern ensures that its line of clew winches, line shaft hoists, pilewind hoists, point hoists, drum hoists, counterweight systems and self-climbing truss systems are in perfect condition before installation. Since every stage is different, Thern brings a trademark attention to detail to the drafting table. “We manufacture everything here, and a lot of it is custom-made,” admits Lakin. Thern’s experienced engineering and technical sales staff can consult, design and make modifications as necessary to provide the best possible product for any application.

Thern’s innovation and operating efficiency is not reserved to its Stage Equipment division. The same principles apply to the winches Thern produces for industrial applications, which often operate under harsh conditions. “We supply a lot of winches for the oil and gas industry, also the water and wastewater industry for municipal facilities all over the nation,” claims Lakin. Every product Thern manufactures meets strict quality standards or it doesn’t carry the Thern name. The company’s quality management system is certified to ISO 9001/2008 standards, and all inspection tools are maintained and calibrated regularly as required under the ISO standard.

The stand-by for oil companies, such as Justiss Oil Inc. (Justiss Oil), is the BIG RED TA utility series. The BIG RED is a heavy-duty air winch that can assist setting up the rig as well as position the equipment on the rig. It’s currently capable of lifting up to 37,000 pounds of equipment. Thern designed this product with customer input so that despite severe conditions, including saltwater corrosion and extreme temperatures, the winch would continue to perform safely and dependably.

Reaching New Heights

Thern’s construction division customers require the same industrial strength as an oil rig winch. Modified versions of these TA air winches were used to raise and lower crossbeams during the four-year seismic retrofit of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge in San Francisco, Calif. DYK, Inc. also uses Thern’s power winches for its concrete tank construction. Thern also assisted in the Hoover Dam Bypass Project. “There’s always something going on here,” laughs Lakin.

The biggest “thing” that’s happening with Thern right now is its involvement with the new One World Trade Center (formerly the Freedom Tower) in New York City, N.Y. The 104-story skyscraper is currently still under construction but is expected to be completed in 2013. Upon its completion it will be the third-tallest building in the world at a symbolic 1,776 feet. “We manufactured a custom winch that’s being used to install the elevators on the tower,” explains Lakin. Thern also has the distinct honor of being the manufacturer of the winch used to lower the New Year’s Eve ball in Times Square.

Thern has built its reputation on manufacturing some of the most dependable and durable equipment for moving loads of all sizes. Drawing upon over 60 years of experience and ingenuity, Thern continues to supply a wide variety of items that are always evolving thanks to customer feedback. Whether it’s rigging up an oil drill or a spotlight, Thern Inc. is a company that can carry its own weight.

Published on: March 9, 2013

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