SABETHA, Kansas – CW Mill Equipment, which manufactures the HogZilla line of grinders, marks its 50th year of business this year. The company has succeeded and prospered by offering a top-flight line of grinders and paying close attention to customers in the design and manufacturing process as well as after-the-sale service.
CW Mill Equipment does not just do one thing well; it does many things well. Its grinders serve customers in the forest products industry as well as businesses in recycling and waste reduction industries.
The company’s management team has been guided by a commitment to continuous improvement in its products: Learn from customers – what they need and what they want – and design and build equipment accordingly.
“You just want to see your grinder be the best it can be,” said Tim Wenger, vice president of CW Mill Equipment. “I want HogZilla to be the best grinder out there.”
The company was founded by his father, Clyde, in 1973, and initially was focused on building alfalfa pelleting plants for the agriculture industry in the Midwest, where CW Mill Equipment is based. The company later began manufacturing tub grinders for agricultural applications.
CW Mill Equipment developed grinders for processing wood material in the 1980s. Its first machine was designed and built for a customer in Maine. The Wengers built on the existing technology they had developed in order to grind wood. For example, they doubled the thickness of certain steel components as well as making other upgrades. They estimated the new machine would weigh up to 36,000 pounds; the first HogZilla weighed 76,000 pounds. “We design by overkill engineering, if there is such a thing,” said Tim.
Today there are more than 20 standard models in the HogZilla grinder line, all with options.
The grinders can be configured as stationary, portable (towable or self-propelled with tracks), with or without a mounted knuckleboom loader, with a diesel engine or electric motor as the power source, or even both diesel and electric as onboard options.
The HogZilla TC series grinders are distinguished by a torque converter. Peak efficiency at multiplied torque means the engine is protected from shock and loads of torsion. Because the engine operates near governed speed throughout its cycle, irrespective of the load, lugging and racing are avoided.
When CW Mill Equipment developed its torque converter for tub grinders, it looked to the torque converters that had been in use in the rock-crushing industry for decades. The technology speaks to the toughness incorporated in the design of the HogZilla TC series grinders.
The industry as a whole was moving to fluid coupling and wet clutches. The torque converter is a signature component of the HogZilla line, Tim explained. “We were the first to replace dry clutches and the only one to use a torque converter,” he said.
CW Mill Equipment had helped develop systems to modulate equipment that spreads sand and salt on highways to the speed of the dump truck, and it adapted similar technology to feed wood to the grinder for maximum production.
Changes, developments, and improvements in the company’s grinders have been driven by customer-driven input and feedback. CW Mill Equipment began to offer track grinders in 2001 – because customers wanted them. The machines were so popular there was nearly a two-year backlog. The company developed its first horizontal grinder in 2004 – again, because customers wanted them.
“Every grinder that we build is better than the last one,” said Tim. “Each grinder became a continual evolution, a better machine.”
“We learn every day,” he added. “Why wait until the next model year to introduce improvements?”
“The thing that we hang our hat on is that we are very customer driven,” said Brian Bergman, operations manager of CW Mill Equipment. The company builds equipment to meet customer requirements, he explained, which involves a significant amount of customization.
Perhaps the biggest change in recent years, noted Brian, has been the move “toward electric-powered machines.” Some customers switch from diesel to electric for “efficiency,” he explained.
Solid waste reduction, wood recycling, land clearing, construction demolition, and mulch production are just some of the applications served by HogZilla grinders. Customers in those industries have talked about their experience with CW Mill Equipment for past issues of TimberLine.
For example, P.R. Russell, the largest privately owned and soil producer in New England, has seven HogZilla grinders for its New Hampshire operations. Its newest machine is a HogZilla TC-1564P towable tub grinder – the 12th grinder it has purchased over the years from CW Mill Equipment.
“P.R. Russell has chosen to stay with the HogZilla tub grinders because of the customer service, durability, and consistency of the machines and the products they make,” said Zach Eaton, yard manager at P.R. Russell. “Having a number of machines that can do the same thing and are interchangeable is a large time-saver on our end.”
Another customer, Missouri Organic Recycling in Kansas City, Missouri, produces mulch, compost, and soil mixtures. The company operates five locations and employs about 80 people.
Missouri Organic Recycling is equipped with three HogZilla tub grinders. The newest HogZilla grinder is an HTC-1462T tub grinder on tracks – the first HogZilla track grinder for Missouri Organic Recycling. The other HogZilla grinders are trailer-mounted TC Series 1564P models.
“I told myself, from now on our grinders will be on tracks,” said Jason Anderson, who operates the business with his brother, Kevin. “It just makes moving the equipment around the yard a whole lot easier.”
Missouri Organic Recycling has continued to add grinders to keep pace with growth, and it has continued to rely on machines from CW Mill Equipment. “We keep growing every year,” observed Jason Anderson, who operates the business with his brother, Kevin.
“We never got rid of a grinder because it was worn out,” he added. “We keep buying new ones because we have to keep up with the growing volume of business.”
Trendsetter Construction in Gladewater, Texas, has grown by leaps and bounds under the second generation of the Campbell family leadership, branching out and expanding into a number of new areas of business. It remains committed, however, to providing services to clear land for new construction projects. And committed to the C.W. Mill Equipment for HogZilla grinders that enable it to recycle the wood debris from its land-clearing work.
Trendsetter Construction is equipped with three Hogzilla tub grinders. One is a stationary electric-powered machine, model TC1664-SE, located in the company’s recycling yard in Tyler. The other two are portable (trailer mounted), diesel-powered, model TCII-1564P machines.
“Their output of material is the best I’ve ever seen,” said Kenny Trotter, manager of the company’s recycling operations. In addition, the machines tolerate contaminants well. “We don’t have a lot of down time or issues with them,” he said.
Tennessee Solid Waste Agency Turns to Familiar Name for Grinder
In 2019 when it came time for the city of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, solid waste department to replace a horizontal grinder used to process wood debris into mulch, department director Joey Smith observed demonstrations of grinders made by several manufacturers. When he wrote the bid specifications, they were a composite of the things he liked about various tub grinders. The city received several bids and ultimately officials chose a HogZilla tub grinder.
The agency operated the machine for more than 15 years. “Most people say they get about eight years of life,” said Joey, from a grinder. The department finally replaced it with a new HogZilla TC-1564P, the largest tub grinder offered by C.W. Mill, in recent years.
A key feature that attracted Joey to HogZilla during the 2003 bidding process was the torque converter. “A big old transmission,” said Joey, who has familiarity with transmissions on solid waste trucks. He preferred the torque converter to machines that utilized a clutch.
“I also liked some of the safety features they had,” he added.
The HogZilla HZL series horizontal grinders are built with the same commitment to reliable performance that CW Mill Equipment has brought to its tub grinders for decades. By providing similar features, including solid construction and production-oriented design, the HZL series lives up to the HogZilla reputation. The HZL Series can be configured in stationary, portable, or track-mounted models with engine choices ranging from 400 hp to 1,000 hp. The HZL series also provides several choices in hammer mills, feeder sizes, and styles, allowing the grinder to be custom-built for the end user.
(For more information on HogZilla grinders, visit www.hogzilla.com.)
As CW Mill Equipment notes on its website, generally either a tub grinder or a horizontal grinder may be able to grind large volumes of many organic materials, but there are differences between the two types of machines at some level in almost all applications. For example, large material, such as a stump, is processed well by a tub grinder. By the same token, long material, like logs or trees, is more suited for an open-ended horizontal grinder if they are not cut into shorter pieces.
The maximum size limit of material for a horizontal grinder is typically the smallest straight-in dimension of the mill as it becomes exposed for grinding in the mill box opening. For a tub grinder, it is the smallest dimension across the inside of the tub barrel. Invariably, a tub grinder can process larger material. Some larger tree material does have to be prepped to some degree prior to being fed into either style of grinder. Other than length limits, feeding a tub grinder is generally less sensitive to the preparation of most material, and properly orienting and lining up material is more of an issue with a horizontal grinder.
Maintenance is generally considered to be much easier to perform on tub grinders due to the way that modern tilting tub floors provide wide open access to the mill area with tilting action over 90 degrees that also dumps the tub when needed. In addition, most modern tub grinders do not employ extensive belt drives like horizontal grinders. Horizontal grinders are typically more difficult to access the workings of the mill and mill drive.
With the various economic disruptions brought on by the COVID pandemic, there continue to be challenges to supply chains. CW Mill Equipment has adapted to those challenges. “We’re inventorying more than we ever had,” said Tim. “We are carrying more inventory to support customers.”
A family-owned business, CW Mill Equipment still involves numerous family members of the founders, Clyde and Joan Wenger, as well as many other talented and hard-working employees throughout the organization.
CW Mill Equipment remains committed to the principles that enable it to mark 50 years serving customers: innovation driven by customers, designing and manufacturing equipment known for its durability, offering grinders that enable customers to produce specific products, and providing strong service and support.