Craig Lange — Alumni Stories — Foundation & Alumni | Northcentral Technical College
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NTC Foundation

Alumnus Craig Lange

Lange Machine and Tool

You might say machining is in Craig Lange’s blood. When Lange was only a little boy his parents, Larry and Sandie Lange, took a chance and started their own business out of the family garage with a basic lathe, a milling machine, and a drill press. In 1974, Lange Machine and Tool hired their first employee and in 1976 they hired their second. By 1978 they were able to move out of the garage and into a new 3,000 square foot facility. His mother calls Lange “their first employee” because he spent so much time in the shop. By the tender age of seven, he was able to run a hand drill press with his parents’ supervision.

After high school, Lange made the decision to pursue his love of machining and enrolled at Northcentral Technical College. In 1991, he graduated with a degree in Machine Tool Technics and was named his program’s “Outstanding Graduate.” Lange greatly enjoyed his time in the learning environment and was exposed to new projects and processes he had not previously encountered. The coursework that contributed to his success included hydraulics, blue-print reading and communications. He chose to enroll at NTC because it was close to home and he had been encouraged by employees at the company who had been trained at NTC.

Lange remains connected to the College in many ways. He is an active member of the Machine Tool Advisory Committee and is a large employer of NTC graduates. Lange Machine and Tool’s second employee is a graduate of NTC and has been with the company for 36 years. The company has hired another 23 employees over the years. Currently 65% of their workforce has been trained through NTC, a total of 15 individuals.

Lange has a unique business in central Wisconsin, located just between Wausau and Merrill. The original building expanded to 24,600 square feet and multiple, large scale lathes have been added to accommodate the machining of custom parts for use in industrial machines for the mining, foundry, agricultural, and pharmaceutical industries. As a custom shop, they specialize in creation components for industrial machines, from pieces that fit into the palm of your hand to parts that weigh up to 40 tons.

Lange has many interesting stories about company projects. They have a large regional impact as they support businesses throughout the area, such as 3M, A&B Process Systems, Mid-State Contracting, and Northland Stainless. They have also participate in unique projects, including the production of vacuum furnaces which are used to create man-made sapphires. These sapphires will soon be on smartphones, providing a screen that is 3 times stronger than glass and scratch resistant.

During his interview, Lange told about a custom part that was used in the Diavik Diamond Mine (as seen on the TV show Ice Road Truckers), accessible by the winter ice roads which are open only 8-9 weeks per year. The part was needed right away and they couldn't wait until the road opened, so a plan to fly the part to the mine was developed. The part was created and then pieces had to be cut off in order to fit it into the cargo plane, to be re-welded upon reaching the mine.

Lange continues to work closely with his family at the shop including his mother, father, sister, and brother-in-law. You can learn more about the Lange family’s unique, local business by visiting their website at http://langemachine.com.

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