Lake Shore Systems celebrates 160 years
KINGSFORD — Lake Shore Systems Inc. has been designing and manufacturing equipment for the maritime and mining industries since 1858.
The company Thursday marked reaching its 160th years of continuous business operation with a reception for employees, retirees and their families at the Chippewa Club and the Cornish Pump Museum in Iron Mountain.
Jessica Frost, Lake Shore’s current president and CEO, credits Lake Shore’s employees, past and present, with their success. About 400 people now work for the company, primarily in the Upper Peninsula and in northern Wisconsin.
“Definitely it’s our people. We have had amazing people for all 160 years. If you look back at the inventions that people have come up with and even today, we get our best ideas from the shop floor,” Frost said. “Our people are just outstanding. Lake Shore employees are empowered to do what it takes to ensure customers are satisfied, and the sailors and miners operating our equipment are safe. The people who make up our company are dedicated, creative, and experts in their fields. We look forward to many more successful years.”
Both of the reception locations share a history with Lake Shore, with several Lake Shore mining equipment exhibits from the early 1900s on display at the Cornish Pump Museum and Lake Shore’s past president, F.A. Flodin, a founding member of the Chippewa Club.
About 80 percent of the mining equipment at the Cornish Pump Museum was made by Lake Shore Systems, said Kellie Sexton, project manager for Lake Shore Systems.
“It’s advanced a little bit over the years, with a lot more technology, but we still make equipment for underground, hard-rock mining. Drills, big trucks basically that drill and do bolting, and ANFO trucks that deliver the explosives, scalers that come in and scrape the loose rocks from walls and ceilings for safety, roof bolters,” Frost said.
Lake Shore began as Lake Superior Foundry Company in Marquette. Charles T. Harvey, the builder of the Soo Locks and the first elevated railroad system in New York, filed the original articles at the Marquette County Courthouse on July 14, 1858.
The company has changed ownership over the years but has maintained its primary manufacturing and engineering facilities in the Upper Peninsula for the duration. Its current primary locations include Kingsford, Iron River and Ontonagon, plus Rhinelander, Wis. Sales and service offices in Claremont, New Hampshire and Zacatecas in Mexico support mining customers in the U.S. and Latin America.
While the company has adapted to changing markets over time, the consistent focus has been on maritime and mining equipment. In 1910, the company became Lake Shore Engine Works. In 1938, Service & Supply Company of Iron Mountain merged with Lake Shore Engine Works and the company became known as Lake Shore Engineering Company. Wayne Oldenburg bought the company in 1987, when it became part of Oldenburg Group Inc. J.F. Lehman & Company acquired the company in 2016, restoring the Lake Shore name.
Current maritime products include shipboard cranes, anchor handling systems, elevators, ramps and doors. The company’s Cannon Mining product line includes drill jumbos, roof bolters, ANFO rigs, scalers, and utility trucks to the underground, hard-rock mining industry. “Our customers, the sailors, and miners, they rely on us for equipment that is safe and reliable, that works when they need it. They operate in harsh environments that need robust, reliable machinery, and I am proud to say that we are recognized as leading our markets in those areas. That is really all because of your hard work,” Frost said at the reception.
During the celebration, Frost read a text message from her brother, Capt. Luke Frost, executive officer of the USS America LHA-6 Navy ship. Capt. Frost sent a U.S. flag flown over the ship on the Fourth of July and a certificate presented to Lake Shore Systems in the celebration of 160 years.
The message read, “I wanted to remind the sailors that you all made a piece of America and I wanted to remind you that there are real people on the other end of your products. Launching boats in the middle of the night, getting gas, leaving Moms and dropping bombs. And vice versa, I wanted everyone to remember why we do damage control drills on the ship because there are real people on the other end back in our hometowns.”
Jessica Frost ended her address at the celebration by thanking the current and past employees for their dedication to the company.
“The best thing about my job is all the wonderful people I work with. We have people that give us their best work and their best ideas. People that put in extra time, people that hop on a plane at a moment’s notice to go help a customer,” she told the crowd. “Everything you do truly makes a difference, and it really matters.”