Forty three years ago in the northeast hills of Connecticut, Frank Tolsdorf, entrepreneur and marketing extraordinaire began manufacturing Superwinch electric winches. The corporate philosophy was to offer the end-user the most reliable, highest performing winching products; all designed via problem solving innovation and from an organization dedicated to customer service.
The company's history began in 1968 when Frank was an executive with Indian Head Corporation. As marketing director, his responsibilities included new product development. So, when two Ford engineers came to him with an offer to sell the patents and manufacturing rights of an electric winch, Frank analyzed the market and realized that there were exceptional opportunities in this field. On Frank's recommendation, Indian Head purchased Superwinch.
Detroit Gasket, the division which had product development responsibilities for Indian Head, redesigned the winch and introduced it to the public in 1969. Frank was not totally captivated with the product and just when he recognized what corrections had to be made, Indian Head told Frank to sell the product line. Frank realized that if he owned the company, he would be able to make whatever changes he felt necessary. Frank contacted the president of the supplier of the cable used on Superwinch, and, together, they purchased the company. Superwinch originally offered a complete line of winches for the pleasure boating market. The marine line included three small electric winches, the Haulamatic which loaded boats up to 8000 lbs, and a powered capstan called the Windlass.
A great many things changed for Superwinch over the next 15 years including the development of satellite TV dish positioning systems. Ian Dodds, an aerospace engineer, joined Frank Tolsdorf in 1985 and collectively they continued to bring innovation and quality to the winch industry. Superwinch purchased the New England based Mercury Electric Winch and FW Winches Limited located in Tavistock, UK (formerly Fairey Winches) providing additional winch manufacturing capabilities including an overdrive transfer gearbox for the Toyota Land Cruiser and a capstan winch for the Land Rover 110. Over three million winches later, today's global Superwinch team lead by President & CEO Ned Cunningham is as dedicated as ever to building on that philosophy with the introduction of the Entry Level LT/LP Series, the Terra ATV/UTV Series, the game changing Talon Series and now the Tiger shark Series.
Superwinch's global manufacturing facilities have grown to design and produce a broad range of winches; from electric 12, 24 and 115 volt planetary gear, right angle gear and worm gear units to hefty hydraulic workhorses. Our 1,000 to 50,000 pound capacity winches can be found in diverse industries and applications around the world. These products share Superwinch's common traits of first class design, quality, value and solid construction for safe, simple and reliable operation.
No resting on laurels at Superwinch. Our "Get Serious" campaign means just that; we are serious about continuous improvements, innovative design and timely market response to keep Superwinch, our OE and distribution partners and the winch end user on top. We provide the greatest value proposition in the global winch industry; innovation, function, quality, price and service. That is the Superwinch tradition.
Frank F Tolsdorf Jr
Born in Brooklyn NY, Frank was a graduate of the Mount Herman School in 1954 and received his Bachelor of Arts in European History from Yale University graduating cum laude in 1958. He later studied business at the Wharton School and graduated from the Owners and Presidents Management course at Harvard Business School. Prior to starting Superwinch in 1970, Frank began his career with The Budd Co in Philadelphia PA and later worked at Diner's Club and Detroit Gasket in various marketing positions including Marketing Director for the Indian Head Corporation. A successful entrepreneur, Frank was also active in the community serving as both a director and chairman of the Day Kimball Hospital in Putnam, director of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, as well as numerous trade and civic groups. He was a member of the World Presidents' Organization. Frank passed away April 27, 2003 leaving behind a legacy of winch innovation and solutions. He is survived by his wife, Judith Tolsdorf and his sons, Fredrick and Geoffrey Tolsdorf. Judy still maintains partial ownership of Superwinch today.
J. Ian Dodds holds a PhD in engineering from Cambridge University in England and is a 1974 graduate of Harvard's Advanced Management Program. Originally involved in the British aerospace industry, he moved to the USA in 1962 to join Rockwell Internationalís Apollo (man on the moon) program. From 1970 to 1972, he served as Director of the Office of Long Range Planning for NASA in Washington DC, returning to Rockwell as VP of Research and Engineering of their Industrial Products Group. In 1974, he moved to Rockwell's Heim Division as President, and a year later to their Boston Gear Division. In 1976, Ian and a group of other manager/investors purchased Boston Gear, Morse Controls and other holdings from Rockwell and ran them successfully until 1982. Ian purchased 50% interest in Superwinch in 1985 heading up the internal functions such as engineering and manufacturing. He continued to influence the design and manufacturing of Superwinch product for the following 24 years in Putnam, CT based corporate office as well as in the Tavistock, UK facility. Ian retired from Superwinch in 2009 and is now enjoying his down time with family and friends in the USA as well as in the UK.