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Monday 15 April 2019

Darkhorse Crankworks

Darkhorse Crankworks Expands and Upgrades its Rural Wisconsin Facility

Celebrating a century old building that used to be the Osman General Store built in 1918 and used as an active general store in an extremely small community until 1998, Darkhorse Crankworks added and upgraded almost the entire 17,000 sq ft facility in 2018. 

Based one hour due north of Milwaukee, WI, in the Village of Osman (population 21!), the success of all the innovative Darkhorse motor products and services drove the company to upgrade and expand its facility by another 5,000 sq ft.

Francis and Ellie Hoban operated the general store that supplied everything from groceries to dairy farm supplies and everything in between from 1968 to 1998.  It was then sold to the Hoban Brothers Corporation and converted to the performance based motorcycle company it is today.  The Hoban brothers started their business in a small 950 sq ft shop behind the general store in 1980 before a move to another facility and then back again to renovate and perform the first expansion to the original store in 1998.


Owners John Dahmer and Pat Hoban operate the Darkhorse Crankworks Division on site

The third partner, Tom Hoban, manages the JTD Enterprises manufacturing facility in nearby Chilton.  JTD produces most all of the Darkhorse proprietary parts used in the remanufacturing of all the V-twin crankshafts that Hoban Brothers upgrade, along with the Darkhorse “Man O’ War” Signature Series crankshafts. 
The expansion has provided the needed room for improved efficiencies in remanufacturing and production capabilities. “In 2018 alone, since the move was made into the new facility, we increased production and sales by over 20% without adding to our workforce,” says John Dahmer, GM of the Darkhorse Division. 
"We now have the needed room to add to our labor force and accommodate our continued growth in the marketplace.  Couple that with the necessary room to house some of the production machines from Tom and Julie's JTD machine shop, and we can continue to improve our production and turnaround times in-house still further.
"We are positioned where we need to be to service our customers - our 400 plus Harley-Davidson franchised dealers and the over 1,500 performance based aftermarket shops and engine builders we work with for the foreseeable future and in an improved timely manner.

Eye for Detail in Design


"With specific engine remanufacturing and assembly rooms, we are able to maintain a contamination-free environment when crankshafts and lower ends are in final assembly. 
"Processing an average of 40-50 crankshafts a week in our busy season, we need to be as efficient as possible with clear and clean work areas.  Our new facility gives us that now with room to grow,” says President Pat Hoban, who performs a majority of the lower end assemblies himself. 
More forward planning was detailed into the design of this addition than in any of the past facility upgrades.  We always had to build while being constrained with property lines in the past, but that is no longer an issue.  We secured 2 1/2 acres a few years ago that allowed us to complete this addition, along with easily adding another 8,000 square feet as soon as we need it.  Doubling our growth in the last four years alone, we know this will not be our last expansion. 
This is our fourth building expansion in the last 20 years, and at that rate the shipping department needed to be been expanded too, but it can be easily moved when we expand again and to bring in more CNC machines to accommodate our continued growth. 

Tom, Pat and John figure they have one more expansion if they continue to grow at the current rate as they are all in their 50s.  The next generation is preparing to take over as both Pat’s son Brad and Tom’s son Tyger are heavily involved in the daily operation of the business. 
John says: “I love building our business and our facilities, it is one of my passions to improve quality, efficiency and physically build our business and facilities with an architectural eye, preserving history.  But it is also stressful when you know you have 12 families depending on you to hit the nail on the head every time. Luckily, we have great employees who are patient and trusting, and I have a lot of friends that we use to subcontract our building needs to.
"It is really with a great sense of pride that we have been able to build this cool and unique facility out of a 100 year old historical building and make it all work for our employees and our customers.  If you are in our area, please feel free to stop in and take a tour. Guaranteed you will not get stuck in traffic on the way here unless you end up behind a random farm implement."