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Member Profile: Ditch Witch 

Over the last seven decades, the Ditch Witch organization has established a global reputation and a worldwide distribution network. Its American-made line comprises trenchers, directional drills, vacuum excavators, and more; but in 1949, the company started with a single product and a single idea.

Ed Malzahn, a Perry, Oklahoma, local and graduate of Oklahoma A&M, created the first DWP service-line trencher after he noticed that crews were still digging residential utility trenches by hand. The device was the world’s first compact service-line trencher, and it helped make indoor plumbing installation efficient and affordable. Ten years later, with the first American dealership, came the brand-new Ditch Witch headquarters on Perry’s Fir Avenue. The company remains headquartered there to this day.
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Dennis Wierzbicki, company president since 2015, explains that he was initially attracted by the brand’s stature.

“My background is in pump manufacturing,” he says, “and I have a long career with distribution companies. I was attracted to the Ditch Witch organization because of the impressive reputation of the brand across the world and the strong dealer network of more than 170 dealer locations, and also I was interested in working with a manufacturer of American-made innovative products.”
The people in this company, Wierzbicki adds, are second to none. “From the factory employees, to every member of our dealer network, to our valued customers, our people are unique. We all have a similar work ethic, values, drive and ambition for the underground construction industry.”
 
The company has developed and diversified its product offerings since the early days but remains committed specifically to underground construction. That strategy keeps the name strong and the organization focused.

 
Wierzbicki, with his background in both mechanical engineering and business leadership, points out two fronts for the continued development of the business. “Our focus internally at the factory is on processes to help us become as efficient as possible,” he says. “Meanwhile, through our dealers, we want to see continued growth to ensure all dealers are able to carry the full product line.” Both initiatives drive the Ditch Witch organization’s ongoing mission to provide safe and innovative products, supported by superior customer service.
 
“Safe” is the key word; Wierzbicki says that the company and the industry are facing a great opportunity to focus on safety. 

“It’s important that everyone involved in the construction industry uphold a strong reputation for making safety a priority.”
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Ditch Witch and Associated Equipment Distributors have enjoyed a long and fulfilling partnership. In 1970, Earl Harbaugh founded Ditch Witch Midwest in Carol Stream, Illinois. At that time he also became involved with AED. As the dealership grew, Harbaugh continued acting as a conduit between the two organizations; that set in motion interest from factory personnel and other dealers across the country.
 
“Earl was a pioneer in helping raise funds to develop The AED Foundation,” says Wierzbicki. “Over the years, several Ditch Witch representatives have been actively involved, serving on the AED board multiple times and on several committees.”
 
Harbaugh’s Carol Stream dealership is still going strong today, under the leadership of his son Mark. There are branch locations in Wisconsin and Indiana.
 
Meanwhile, AED has remained a valuable advocate for the Ditch Witch organization. The annual meeting, the education modules, and the finance class training have been particularly important services for the company and the entire dealer network.
 
That’s especially important today. Like other employers in the sector, the Ditch Witch organization is adapting to a changing economy; it’s a continuous challenge to attract and retain the right people. Wierzbicki looks to AED to continue developing efforts in recruitment and retention.
 
“Attraction to the industry and training opportunities are key, not only at the dealership level, but also at the corporate level,” Wierzbicki says. “AED is a powerful organization with the ability to make a positive impact across the entire industry.”
 
 
 
 
 

 

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