Ditch Witch Inventor Dies

Ed Malzahn, founder of The Charles Machine Works and its iconic Ditch Witch brand, has passed away at the age of 94. Armed with a mechanical engineering degree, in the late 1940s Malzahn began investigating a better way to install residential utility services, which then involved slow pick-and-shovel labor. Both he and his father Charles spent months working the family’s Perry, Oklahoma, machine shop to create the DWP, or Ditch Witch Power, prototype.

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Malzahn with an early trencher prototype. At 28, Malzahn saw the realization of his dream, the first production trencher, a mechanized, compact service-line trencher. Today, more than 1,300 employees “bleed orange” as the company calls the fierce loyalty it generates within its personnel, producing a variety of underground construction equipment, from trenchers to vibratory plows to horizontal directional drilling systems. Twice Malzahn saw the Ditch Witch compact trencher named “one of the 100 best American-made products in the world” by Fortune magazine.

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