IN HIS OWN WORDS
BY FRED NOLTING
Fred Nolting was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at Machine
Quilters Showcase in May of 2004.
As a young boy, I liked to change things to make them work better and/or easier. The first invention I remember building was a loader to attach behind my tricycle to load grass in a wagon which was also behind my tricycle. I also helped my dad build things for his farming equipment. One thing in particular was an unloader for the silage wagon. When I was 14 years old, my dad was down with back problems. When it came harvest time, I ran the combine for him. As it needed service, I would drive it to his bedroom window for him to show me where to grease things and whatever else needed attention.
Growing up on a farm, I had no intentions of working in a factory. But in 1955 my uncle Raymond asked me to work in the quilting factory he was employed at, wrapping packages. He was the mechanic fixing sewing machines at Smithsons Inc., located in Stover. At that time, outline quilting at each repeat of fabric was being to with an embroidery machine, 103 Singer. The repeat would then be cut so it could be framed, making it a picture. With about 20 machines operating, I began helping my uncle service the machine. I was also servicing machines at Quality Quilting. These quilters are the ones you sit down to and swing a frame that accommodates the goods to be quilted. The chain stitch machine at Smithsons were slow, about 1200 to 1500 RPM and the parts wore out fast. The machine was guided by using a crank that was located on the underneath part of the machine. The throat was 15 1/2" long and 4 1/2" high.
Decorators were sending us jobs using 1/4" cotton batting. We were quilting for furniture businesses and the chain stitch on the quilted fabric would unravel when the material was cut to fit. All of these factors were making quilting hard to achieve easily.
In the early 60's Wayne Story from the Elgin, IL factory had me re-
In 1969, financial needs took me to Kansas City. Working as a welder at Gleanor
Combine, I was applying my natural habit; make things easier so I could get more
done in a day. The union wasn't very impressed, so it didn't take long for me to
know I needed to move on. I found a job at Textile Machinery. They bought used
sewing machines to re-
After about a year, I decided to move back to Stover. I purchased a high loader and dump truck. While in this line of work, I injured my back and the Dr. said to find a new line of work. I then went in to carpentry for about 4 years. In that time frame, Lee Williams purchased Nustyle. He asked me if I would help him put the quilting machines together in my spare time. So in my spare time I had a job working with quilting machines.
As if things weren't busy enough, Mr. Smithson asked me to remodel his apartment he lived in while doing business at the Stover factory. While I was working on the apartment, Mr. Smithson brought a sketch of a machine he wanted built. He thought I would like to try it in my spare time. So in my spare time in 1972, I built one. This machine was the first long arm, similar to the ones today, without the hopping foot. A bit crude, but it still runs today. He was pleased with the machine and asked me to work for him again. I began with a two headed machine. It was adjustable so we could sew two lines at the same time with a variable width distance from a 1/2" to 6" apart. I also helped build an eight headed machine that had 6" seam widths. We started building machines for the public. It had a 16" throat and a wooden table.
I remember the first quilt show I went to in the mid 70's in Hannibal, MO. Upon arriving the opening day of the show, I found our booth draped off. When I asked what was wrong, I was informed that it was voted to not let the machine show. I stayed anyway. Every little bit, I would run the machine. Curious people would peek behind the curtain to see what was going on and that overwhelming curiosity sold 4 machines.
Shortly after, Mr. Gammill visited at Smithson's to see if I would but and lengthen
a Juki machine for him. I was doing the same process for Nustyle. When management
changed at Smithson's, the working relationship deteriorated. I then began my own
So the early 80's allowed me the purchase of my first manufacturing facility and employees were hired. The 30" and 36" models followed the success of the 24". As machine orders decreased, I learned machines were being built and purchased somewhere else. That's when I started marketing and selling my machine myself. I streamlined my machine and offered 4 sizes, the 16", 24", 30" and 36".
I saw a computerized Grebets machine at a show in Atlanta. It was a thrill when a representative of the $304000.00 machine asked if I had advice to help get the machine running before the show started, as they were having trouble with it. My advice wasn't well taken, but when they did try it, it sewed. It was my thought if I could find someone good in computer programming I could produce a hand guided machine with the perfect stitch. After a few years of searching, I met Paul Statler and was excited to perfect a computerized machine. I found it to be more expensive than I cared to try and sell to the home based businesses.
The appeal of the perfect stitch kept me searching for a way to offer an add-
The tragic death of my grandson in 1994 caused me to develop the sit down machine that had been on my back burner, but yet built. This sit down quilter was a way to offer most anyone a machine quilter. I can't think of any sewing or quilting machine that I haven't worked on in some way. There is one thing I am very proud of; I do know quilting machines and what it takes to make them work. My dream was to make a quilting machine that was easier to use than what was offered. My priority was not only ease of use but service friendly. I built that machine and it is the machine that set the standards that all others have followed.
I am currently retired but my nature won't allow me to sit idle. I continue to work here and there. I am also creating a gravel screen and rock crusher to make a gravel business person's job easier. I do miss the quilters and am grateful for the people and places world wide that came with a machine show or delivery. Thank you for picking me to be this years Life time achievement recipient. I am truly proud!
Team Nolting Continues Tradition Of Excellence In Design, Craftsmanship
Nolting Manufacturing, which is known worldwide for bringing you the original hand guided quilting machine, is proud to announce it will continue its tradition of providing excellent customer service, now from a new location.
Since November of 2001, Nolting has been settling into its new home at 1265 Hawkeye Drive, Hiawatha, IA. According to Dan Terrill, owner and company president, the new facility is 12,000 square feet, an estimated 20 to 25 percent larger than the previous plant in Stover, MO.
"Nolting Manufacturing has been in business for over 17 years," Terrill said.
Sharing the company history, Terrill continued, "Fred Nolting created the modern longarm quilting machine in the 1970s. In 1984, he began to produce longarm machines for private label distributors. In 1990, Fred began to sell the quilting machines direct to customers as Nolting Manufacturing. In April of 2001, Fred was ready to retire and was looking for a buyer. I crossed paths with the opportunity, and it's been a whirlwind ever since."
After the business changed hands, Terrill continued operations in Stover, MO, for a short period and then prepared for the move of the factory. Relocating Nolting took one week, and Terrill incorporated many changes and improvements to the company at the same time.
Dan Terrill, president of
"We have changed everything except the quality, the strength, and durability of the machines," he explained. "We've changed everything else for the better. We were known for our customer service already, and we've improved it. Consistency in our product was a little wary, so we've taken some steps to help make the machines more consistent, more predictable. We've also adjusted pricing; some increased, some decreased."
Additional changes on the venue include improving the manuals for the machines, making videos to accompany their products, and improving the company Web site, www.nolting.com.
"We intend to do better with the technical aspects of the business," Terrill shared. "Our Web site is better now than it ever was, but we still have a long way to go."
There are now defined departments at Nolting Manufacturing, which include the machine shop (where the hard goods are manufactured), the paint room, table assembly department, machine assembly department, and the showroom. The products Nolting offers include longarm machines, a new stationery machine, called the Quilting Bee, support parts, and accessories such as batting, threads, fabric, extra wide fabric, and patterns.
While some of the Nolting employees chose to relocate with the company, others did not; therefore, new workers are still in the process of training and learning the blueprints, etc. Terrill himself has a background of 16 years experience working in the steel and metals fabrication industry. He stated he has wanted to do his own thing for a long time, and that is what has brought him to where he is today.
"I found an opportunity and I took it," said Terrill. "I think the quilting industry is in a good place right now. I think the longarm machines have a long life ahead of them, and I believe good things are before us." As with any business endeavor, there are challenges that Terrill faces and rewards that make it all worthwhile. Terrill said his challenges, however, have all been "self inflicted."
"I’ve set goals that are close and high. I want to increase sales, increase quality,
and make product changes, and we've started to do all that -
Terrill shared, "The response we've received from our customers about how we are doing is rewarding. When we are successful and can help someone over the phone, that is nice to hear. It's fun when customers get excited. They can go from the peak of frustration to the peak of happiness in just a short time."
"We will strive for further innovation and increased presence in the industry," he stated. "I want this company to be where it belongs, and that' s number one! It's a long term goal. I want to move it from the best kept secret to where it should be and that's the best known longarm quilting manufacturer."
For more information about becoming a Nolting dealer, call 1-
Dan Terril, president of
Designed By John Parker All Rights Reserved
Nolting Manufacturing Inc. and Hinterberg Design Inc. have merged into one company.
This exciting new combination will create one of the world's largest supplier of
quilting machines frames and notions.
In business since 1984 Nolting is credited with inventing the modern longarm quilting machine and continuing to be the innovator in the industry.
Hinterberg Design has been in business since 1981 and built their reputation by designing and manufacturing high quality hardwood hand quilting hoops and frames. More recently, they have become the leading designer of machine quilting frames, furniture and economical quilting machines.
Daniel Terrill President of Nolting Mfg., Inc says "Both companies are highly regarded for making great products and providing excellent service at very competitive prices. By merging companies and streamlining operations, we are able to offer quilters from around the world the widest range of innovative products and services from a single source."
Nolting Longarm and Hinterberg Quilt Frames will have offices and showrooms at 1105 Hawkeye Drive in Hiawatha, Iowa 52233. You can learn more at www.nolting.com or www.hinterberg.com
Nolting Manufacturing Inc.
Oct. 13, 2010 Press Release
Press release concerning the fate of the Hinterberg Voyager 10/20/2010
Many have questioned whether Nolting/Hinterberg would continue to build the Hinterberg Voyager. The answer is YES. Nolting will continue to build and support the Hinterberg Voyager machine. Currently the Voyager is between production runs but Nolting/Hinterberg is taking orders for the Voyager with the hopes of being able to fill those orders in about 8 weeks. Please be patient with us as we move the production from Wisconsin to Iowa.
Many are also taking advantage of very favorable trade allowances on their Voyager machines when upgrading to a larger Nolting system. It is a great time to talk with Dan Terrill (email@example.com) or Lance Smeins (firstname.lastname@example.org) concerning trading up into a Nolting Longarm system. They can both also be reached by calling 319-