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Rafter Equipment founder to retire




has announced the retirement of

company founder and former president

Walter Krenz. In 1988 Mr Krenz and

his two partners (Paul Rohde and

Jack Brandli) purchased the Rafter

Machine Company and relocated it to

the Cleveland, Ohio, USA, area. The

company was subsequently renamed




However, Mr Krenz’s story begins well

before Rafter Equipment.

In 1952, Mr Krenz immigrated to the

USA from Germany where he gained

both his US citizenship and high-

school diploma in 1956. In June of that

same year, Mr Krenz was hired by The

Yoder Company where he started as a

machine apprentice and, thus, began

his career in the tube and pipe industry.

Over the next four years Mr Krenz

obtained his Journeyman Certificate,

and by 1961 he was assembling tube

and pipe mills.

Soon after, Mr Krenz was transferred

to Yoder’s engineering department

where he designed mill equipment until

1964. Moving to the sales department

as a sales engineer, Mr Krenz spent

the next six years preparing equipment

prices, writing equipment specifications

and meeting with tube mill customers.

He was then promoted to tube mill

sales product manager in 1970. The

following year, he was promoted again

to assistant plant manager and then

plant manager.

By 1973, Mr Krenz advanced to vice-

president of manufacturing where he

served for the next three years. In 1977

he became Yoder’s vice-president of

sales and marketing. It is safe to say

that Mr Krenz knew tube and pipe mill

equipment as well as anybody in the

tubing world by this point.

In 1986, Mr Krenz and his partners

first tried to buy Yoder from then

owner The Northern Group, a Seattle

investment company, when it was put

up for sale. Although unsuccessful, the

desire to be his own boss never faded

and Rafter Equipment became a reality

just two years later, in 1988.

With Rafter Mr Krenz and his partners

were determined to design new tube

and pipe mills that were more robust and

operator friendly. They brought a new

level of customisation to the industry.

Over the past 28 years the company

has built well over 100 tube and pipe

mills and roll forming machines. In

addition, the company has supplied

hundreds more mill accessories (weld

boxes, turkshead straighteners, etc) as

retrofits to existing machines.

“I too worked for Yoder for eleven

years as a sales engineer,” said

Mark Prasek, Rafter VP of sales

and marketing. “It was after Walter

had already left though. In my time, I

essentially was competing with him. In

all those years I was only able to beat

him once or maybe twice. In those

cases, however, I recall there were

‘extenuating circumstances’ that played

a part in my minor success. Now at

Rafter I can see why he always seemed

to run circles around me. He knows the

equipment inside and out and he knows

what the customer needs.”

“Walter always pushed us to maintain

a strong, conservative financial

position,” said John Hostetler, Rafter

CFO. “He always worked to retain

quality employees to make it through

the ups and downs associated with the

manufacturing industry. It was this type

of leadership that permitted a company

like Rafter to survive years like 2009. As

a result Rafter learned how to become

more efficient, not only in manufacturing

but also in administrative functions. We

are a better company now.”

“Walter has been an influential and

important part of the tube and pipe mill

industry for 60 years, and his depth

of experience from apprenticeship

to ownership is truly an example of

the American dream,” said Daniel

Whitehill, Rafter president. “I would

like to personally thank Walter, Paul

Rhode and Jack Brandli for their

years of experience and the amount of

knowledge they have passed on to me

and the rest of the Rafter employees

over the years. We will continue

the Rafter name under the same

principles these men set forth – rugged,

dependable equipment and dealing

quickly and fairly with our customers’

needs. In addition, Walter will remain

on the company board of directors and

will still be available for consultation.

His company email address will remain


Mr Krenz’s influence and contributions

to the tube and pipe industry are

significant. Although his talents and

skills will surely be missed he has

paid his dues and has earned the right

to now enjoy himself away from the

industry. Well-wishers are encouraged

to leave comments for Mr Krenz on the

company’s website blog.




manufactures tube mills, pipe mills, roll

forming machines, cut-off machines,

and auxiliary and other related

mill machinery. Additional services

include rebuilding and upgrading mill

equipment. Originally started in 1917,

the Rafter name is known for reliable,

high-quality tube mill and roll forming


Rafter Equipment Corporation




Walter Krenz

(and below)