Ditch Witch Founder Dies at 94

Ed Malzahn founded company with first trencher in 1949.
Ditch Witch Founder Dies at 94

Ditch Witch founder Ed Malzahn passed away on Dec. 11 at the age of 94, the company announced on Dec. 15.

“Ed was the inspirational leader of the Ditch Witch and Charles Machine Works family for over 65 years,” says Rick Johnson, chief executive officer for Charles Machine Works. “He possessed a sharp mind, strong rural work ethic and generous spirit, all of which he used to better those around him.”

Malzahn changed the way the world’s utility infrastructure is installed and maintained when he launched the first service line trencher, the Ditch Witch model DWP in 1949 from a small machine shop in Oklahoma. That small shop grew to become Ditch Witch, a Charles Machine Works company, which today employs more than 1,500 workers, and has more than 175 dealerships and branches serving 195 countries.

Recognition of Malzahn’s accomplishments as an industry leader and innovator included his induction into the Oklahoma Inventors Hall of Fame, American Rental Association Hall of Fame, Construction Equipment Hall of Fame and North American Society for Trenchless Technology Hall of Fame. He also was named Inventor of the Year by the Oklahoma Bar Association: Patent, Trademark and Copyright Section.

As a family man, Malzahn’s family life extended to his work life. Charles Machine Works has remained a family business since its creation, even after global success. Malzahn’s granddaughter Tiffany Sewell-Howard, who represents the fifth-generation of the Malzahn family, now serves as the executive chair of Charles Machine Works.

Malzahn is survived by his three children, nine grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. To send condolences or share memories, visit EdMalzahn.com

A memorial service for Malzahn is scheduled for Dec. 18 from 6-8 p.m. at the Ditch Witch Training Center, 1947 West Fir Ave., Perry, Oklahoma. A funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. Dec. 19 at First Presbyterian Church, 1922 N. 15th St., Perry, Oklahoma.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Perry Memorial Hospital Foundation, c/o Brown-Dugger Funeral Home at 1010 North 7th Street in Perry, Oklahoma.


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