Our Friend.
Our Founder.

Ed Malzahn.

Many people know that Ditch Witch produced the world’s first mechanical trencher. But not everyone knows the man behind the machine and the idea that launched an industry.

It all started in Perry, Oklahoma, with one man and one trencher.

Gus Edwin George Malzahn, a native son of Perry, Oklahoma, had recently graduated from Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State University) with his degree in mechanical engineering when he noticed that there was no equipment for installing residential utilities. Instead, workmen were forced to plow trenches by hand with picks and shovels. Ed set out to change all that.

Never one to leave a problem unsolved, Ed began his most famous projectーinventing the world’s first utility trencher. And in 1949, the Model DWP Service-Line Trencher was born, forever changing the industry.

It was twice named as one of the 100 best products manufactured in the United States and was also designated as a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark. He launched the Ditch Witch organization that same year.

But, in typical Ed fashion, he didn’t stop there. He continued inventing and innovating throughout his career, expanding the Ditch Witch product line into the vibratory plowing and horizontal directional drilling industries.

Since then, the company has grown to the global leader it is today. But it all started in Perry, Oklahoma, with one man and one trencher.

Innovator

A sharp mind. A rural work ethic. A generous spirit. 
People looked up to Ed—and rightly so. He embodied everything that’s great. Ed was an engineer and a businessman. But more than that, he was a leader.

Okie

The needs of the community and its residents were always a priority to Ed. He donated time and finances throughout his life, and countless institutions and individuals benefited from his generosity.

Awards

Inducted into the Construction Equipment Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, Oklahoma State University (OSU) Hall of Fame, OSU Engineering Hall of Fame, American Rental Association Hall of Fame, North American Society of Trenchless Technology Hall of Fame, Power & Communication Contractors Association Hall of Fame.

Presidential “E” Award, U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Recognition for Selling Products into Foreign Markets

Nation’s Outstanding Small Businessman Award

Outstanding Citizen Award - Perry, OK

Oklahoma Ambassadors Corporation

Named One of the 100 Most Significant Contributors to the Mechanization and Productivity in Construction During the Previous 100 Years by the Equipment Manufacturers Institute

Oklahoma State University Alumnus Award

Oklahoma’s Outstanding Engineer in Management

Leadership Oklahoma’s Lifetime Achievement Award

Wonders in Engineering Awards from the Oklahoma Society of Professional Engineers

Executive of the Year, Arkansas-Oklahoma Division of International Association of Administrative Professionals®

National Employer Support Freedom Award (Received at the Pentagon)

Named One of the 125 Most Influential People in Construction (Engineering News Record magazine)

1998 Inventor of the Year by the Oklahoma Bar Association

Cited as One of Ten Oklahomans who have shaped the history of Oklahoma by facing opportunities and challenges presented in the 20th century (The Daily Oklahoman, Dec. 30, 1999)

Timeline
1949

Ed invents the original DWP Service-Line Trencher.

1959

First domestic Ditch Witch dealership opens in Edmond, Oklahoma.

1959

New Ditch Witch facility opens on Fir Avenue in Perry, Oklahoma, to serve as its world headquarters. It is located there to this day.

1988

Patented slant-nose technology launches the HDD industry.

1990

The Jet Trac® horizontal directional drill is introduced.

1993

Ed becomes one of the first 12 leaders inducted into the Construction Equipment Hall of Fame.

2002

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) designates the DWP trencher a national mechanical engineering landmark.

2003

Tiffany Sewell-Howard, the fifth generation of the founding Malzahn family, assumes leadership role of Charles Machine Works.