Hard work and family values since 1933.
“Fourth” and “generation” are two words that are not often put together. For Capital Machine Company Inc., those two words are used frequently and with pride. The family-owned business was started in 1933 by brothers Julius and Vince Kruse and has since been passed onto, and spearheaded by, Julius Kruse’s proceeding generations.
88 years later, Julius Kruse’s great-granddaughter, Sarah Cain, is running Capital Machine Company. She took the helm from her father, Mike Kruse, who retired several years ago. Before Mike Kruse, his father, Don Kruse, led Capital Machine Company. Each grew up in the shop, watching their father run the family business before them.
Throughout its history, Capital Machine Company has become a well known and reliable welding and machine shop in Central Missouri, offering custom steel solutions, repair work on machining parts and equipment, and a large inventory of machining parts.
At the shop, Sarah’s strawberry blonde curls bounce as she walks out of her office to the front of the shop to help customers. The only thing brighter than her blue eyes is her smile as she jokes around with the regulars — some she sees on a daily basis.
The friendly banter between her, her customers, and her mother, Tambra Kruse, who shares her daughter’s bright blue eyes and works at the shop part-time, is the result of building strong customer relationships for decades. Customers chat as they sit on stools and casually lean on a high counter, just as if they were enjoying a milkshake at an old-time diner or a beer at their favorite bar.
Mavis, a black pug, also likes to stroll around the storefront of Capital Machine Company, and at one time, five dogs sniffed around the shop. The Kruse family welcomed its first dog into the doors of the business when Sarah was 10 years old. Since then, it’s been a tradition to have a dog at the shop.
One-Stop Shop for Machining Needs
Walking into this shop is like walking into machining heaven. From nuts and bolts to bearings and belts, this business has everything to meet their customer’s machining needs. As a retail dealer of Wright tools and other name brands, Capital Machine Company only sells high-quality machining and welding tools, including drill bits, end mills, and tooling.
Sarah, 37, says she’s proud the business has maintained its large inventory, which took years to stock. It’s an aspect of the business on which customers have come to depend. Customers know that if they need a part, they can bet on Capital Machine Company to have it in stock and available for purchase.
At Capital Machine Company, no job is too big or too small when taking on welding and metal fabrication projects. The business completes lathe work, mill work, fabrication, and repairs to their customer’s satisfaction. It works with stainless steel, aluminum, and steel cast.
Their talented employees take on big-time repair work for organizations like Union Pacific Railroad and the Missouri Department of Transportation. They also take pride in their smaller jobs, like repairing lawn mowers and lawn furniture. Farmers from within an hour’s drive depend on Capital Machine Company to fix their tractors, repack cylinders, and more.
On top of it all, Capital Machine Company is a top steel supplier for Central Missouri, offering a variety of steel supplies including angle iron, flat bar, channel, round and square tube, pipe, and I-beam.
Over the years, Capital Machine Company has built a reputation for its dependability. For customers who need parts or work done quickly to keep their own businesses going, Capital Machine Company, with its dedicated crew and access to a large inventory of parts, makes a huge difference.
“A lot of our customers are farmers or businessmen who, if their piece of equipment is broken down, they’re not working.”— Tambra Kruse
“Even if we’re busy, if someone is broken down, we try to squeeze them in,” Tambra Kruse says. “A lot of our customers are farmers or businessmen who, if their piece of equipment is broken down, they’re not working.”
Capital Machine Company has a tight-knit group of 10 employees, including Sarah and Tambra. Many employees have been working there for more than 20 years.
Alan Struemph, who works in the back of the shop, working on and repairing machines, has worked at Capital Machine Company since the business opened at its current location on Industrial Boulevard in 1993. He said he’s enjoyed working for Capital Machine because the bosses treat the employees as their equals. They ask for their employees’ opinions and expertise before diving into a project.
“They just treat us right,” Alan says.
A History of Hard Work & Family Values
Opened as a small blacksmith shop in 1933, Capital Machine Company has thrived over the decades thanks to its family history, family ties, and family values. Julius and Vince Kruse opened the original shop next to St. Peter’s Catholic Church.
By the time Don Kruse took over the business, Capital Machine Company started selling parts like bearings, bolts, and belts. Don, who is now 94, only stopped working at the business two years ago. After he stopped working at the shop regularly, he only enjoyed coming back when he was going to be put to work. A business owner doesn’t become as successful as Don without a strong work ethic.
“He’s sharp as a tack,” Sarah says.
Don’s son and Sarah’s father, Mike Kruse, grew up watching his dad work and then took over the business in 1984. A year later, Mike opened a location on St. Mary’s Boulevard.
One of the highlights of Mike’s career was the opportunity to work with Union Pacific Railroad. With a shop near the railroad tracks, Capital Machine Company was in the perfect position to support the railroad and run parts from out of that shop. Union Pacific, which has remained the business’ single largest customer, had an abundance of repair work needed, such as fixing broken frames. The railroad had so much needed repair work that Mike decided to cater to the railroad work while Don Kruse maintained the other important aspects of the business.
“We joked around that when he was younger, he would literally load up a truck and trailer and he would follow the railroad and he would drop off all the stuff he fixed,” Sarah says. “He did that, basically, all when we were kids. That was their life until we built this place (on Industrial Boulevard), and then we had a big enough location where they would come to us. For those years when we were at St. Mary’s, I think that’s what my dad did mostly.”
In 1993, Capital Machine Company moved to its current location at 1101 Industrial Blvd. Sarah has many fond memories of her father and grandfather working in the shop. While Capital Machine Company was always a meaningful place of her childhood, Sarah says she had never imagined herself leading the business.
“I had no intention of sticking around after high school,” she says.
The middle child of three children, Sarah says she always thought she was the least likely among them to take over the business. But her original role of bookkeeper blossomed into much more as she naturally progressed into the role of co-owner with her parents and her husband, Andy Cain. Married in 2012, the Cains have two children together — Phoebe, 7, and Felix, 4. Their children, who attend St. Peter’s Catholic School, are now growing up in the shop and enjoy stopping by after school.
Sarah says Phoebe particularly likes answering the phone. Customers are delighted to hear her over the phone saying, “Capital Machine, how can I help you?”
At one point, Sarah also worked in the shop with her mother; her aunt, Denise Peters; and her cousin, Ashley O’Rourke. She looks back on that time with a smile. “We used to say it was four girls in a machine shop,” she says.
Working part-time, Tambra spends two weeks of the month selling parts, answering phones, and helping wherever she can at the shop. The other two weeks, she’s in Fort Myers, Florida, where her other two children live. Despite the distance, she never misses a birthday, game, concert, or other big moments in her grandchildren’s lives.
Tambra says she still works part-time because she cares about helping the customers and she wants to support her daughter.
“I enjoy it here. I enjoy the people, and plus I’m helping,” she says. “My husband worked more in the machine shop, whereas my job is ordering steel, working with customers, and helping do the bookwork.”
No Job Too Big or Too Small
With an 88-year history, Capital Machine Company has had many memorable moments over time. Sarah says her aunt Denise was once called at home when the city’s street department needed parts for their equipment to clear the snowy streets. Years ago, when the Missouri River was very low, a big-time water company called Mike Kruse on Christmas morning to weld an extension to a deeper part of the river.
“It’s nice to know that you’re an asset and can keep the construction and the industrial part of Jefferson City going,” Sarah says.
Other fond memories include coming to the rescue for the Governor’s office when the original skeleton key to the Governor’s Mansion broke. From a block of copper, the business worked to replicate the original skeleton key and have created replicas of keys once used at the Missouri State Penitentiary — not to size or scale, of course.
Even the little things are stored away in their memories. A customer once came into the shop and needed his dad’s favorite fork repaired. Though it wasn’t an everyday request, the business was happy to fix something with so much sentimental value.
“It’s nice to know that you’re an asset and can keep the construction and the industrial part of Jefferson City going.”— Sarah Cain
“We enjoy making one-time repairs,” Sarah says.
In addition to completing repair work for the railroad, Capital Machine Company has designed and built new parts for the railroad, including an anchor stripper. Using a magnet, the anchor stripper rides on the rail, runs down, and knocks off all the pins on the rail. Previously, the pins had to be knocked down individually by hand.
“We make several parts that the guys have come up with over the years,” Sarah says. “Between my dad and the guys in the shop, it really was a group effort. They had come up with a couple of neat designs for the railroad.”
When asked why she believes Capital Machine Company has thrived in Jefferson City for so many years, Tambra Kruse credits Capital Machine Company’s success to its relationships with customers.
“Most of them are not just customers, they’re people we see on a regular basis. It’s more like an extended family. When you work with them for 20 or 30 years on a daily basis, we all joke and have fun. We always treat everybody the way we would like to be treated.”
“We’re on a first-name basis with our customers,” Sarah says. “We give each other a hard time, and we know their personalities. Many people who come here come more than once during a day.”