Over the years, I've made many trips along Minnesota's I-35E through the eastern portion of the Twin Cities area. On nearly every single trip along that stretch of freeway near White Bear Lake, I've chuckled at the name on a big building and wondered "What does a company with a name like that do?"

The odds are pretty good if you've ever traveled in that area, you know what company I'm talking about. But do you know what they do? It turns out that while people of a certain age might chuckle at the name of this company, they are a pretty big deal in one industry.

What is 'Schwing' for 100, Alex?

Google Street View
Google Street View

Yep, that's right. I am talking about the giant building with the word "Schwing" on the side of it, located on the west side of I-35E, just a few miles south of where I-35E and I-35W split.

Now, before I get any further, I want to be clear I'm not making fun of or disrespecting the company. I just think the pop culture usage of their name, though 100% unrelated to the business, is funny. Without knowing anything about the company, it's easy to chuckle about the word "Schwing" in giant letters on the side of a building - especially when there's no context.

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Besides being an onomatopoeia (a word made from a sound associated with what is named) for a sword being drawn from a scabbard, it has another pop culture meaning.

While the company has been around a lot longer than this, people who are familiar with Wayne's World are probably more likely to have a similar reaction to the one I have when I see the building. Here's one example of the word's use from Wayne's World:

Unless you know their industry or you work for them, you're probably like me and wonder what they do or how they got their name. So I did a little homework to find out.

What is the Minnesota company Schwing?

It turns out Schwing is an international company, founded by Friedrich Wilhelm Schwing in Germany in 1934. The company started off selling equipment for mining, road construction, and other areas in the construction industry, specializing in concrete pumps and truck mixers.

Schwing opened their American operation headquarters in 1974 in the Twin Cities, becoming one of a handful of facilities operated in different countries around the world.

Their Schwing America website says they offer stationary and boom concrete pumps, placing booms, truck-mounded conveyors, and even fire truck booms, as well as offering parts, service, and used equipment.

Their Minnesota facility features 350,000 square feet of manufacturing space that includes robotic welding equipment and state-of-the-art painting equipment as well as parts inventory space and more.

Here's a look inside the Schwing building in the Twin Cities.

Now we know!

I'll admit, Wayne's World has forever tainted their company name a little for me, but now I know they're a leader in the concrete equipment industry that has been around for many years prior to that pop culture reference even being invented.

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