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Hoisington loves getting his hands dirty

Six years after a work accident that crushed his spinal cord and took away Gordie Hoisington’s ability to support his family in the construction field, he has created a business engineered to take advantage of his natural skill set.
Hoisington recently opened Hoisington Machine Shop in a large garage outside of his home. The shop is filled with equipment and machinery that Hoisington has either built himself, has acquired at auction or purchased from established businesses. His mechanically geared mind allows him to see a problem, whether it is adjusting a machine to work with his disability or making a part that he has on hand fit and work in a machine for which that part is no longer available, to find a solution and fix it.
Going through the equipment in his shop there is a long list of adjustments Hoisington has made in order to make everything work to his advantage. There is a jib crane he built from scape metal from the recycling yard that helps him move heavy objects around the shop, a radial arm drill, a large metal lathe, a milling machine, welding torches and other equipment. He has an industrial forklift for the real heavy duty lifting. Hoisington has added sliding shelves, rotating tables and made adjustments to engines to make the equipment meet his needs.
He has established a full service machine shop that allows him to repair or custom make items from scratch.
It began with him building two wheelchairs that would give him the freedom of getting around on rough terrain. One with large, fat ties that moves over the grass and snow to allow him access to areas his daily use chair would not. He is able to get out onto the ice to fish Lake Oahe in the winter with the chair. The chair has a lift and special pads that with some adjustments will allow him to astand if needed. Hoisington is currently working on a solution to his balance problem. He is paralyzed from the chest down, meaning his abdominal muscles do not work and he is not stable on his feet.
The second chair is an all-terrain vehicle with tracks instead of wheels. The tracks are from a snowmobile that he has adjusted for the chair. He said this chair allows him hunt again.
“Both chairs work pretty good,” he said. “The one is pretty rough riding but it gets me around.”
While he was working on the chairs and working with metal, he became hooked. He began to imagine how he could use his skills in a business.
It was about that time that local machinist Frank Miller decided to retire. Hoisington thought about it for a couple of weeks and decided he would replace Frank as the local “go to guy.”
Hoisington purchased some of Miller’s equipment at his auction and developed a working relationship with him.
“Someone with his kind of experience can really teach you the ins and outs of this kind of work,” he said. “In the beginning there were some things that I couldn’t do that I had to have Frank do for me.”
With hard work and adjustments, Hoisington can do the work he once had difficulty with. If he can’t figure it out on his own, he has Miller’s experience to fall back on.
“I have built stuff my entire life,” he said. “This is just a lot of measuring and head scratching.”
Hoisington said now that he has the right equipment, he could do more from his wheel chair that other people could do. There is some history sitting inside of Hoisington’s shop. The giant lath was once on a U.S. Navy ship and the radial arm drill he purchased from Twin City Fan in Mitchell, drilled the shaft holes in the giant fans that circulated the air in the World Trade Center.
Hoisington loves working with his hands and after six years of fighting against the results of his accident, is back to owning his own business and doing what he loves.
“I guess I could have found a desk job somewhere, but I like to get my hands dirty,” he said. “I have always worked for myself. I don’t know if I could have worked for somebody else after 20 years on my own.”
He and his wife Rachel have raised their four daughters in Mobridge. Hoisington said he is glad to own a business that fills a need in his community. He is confident that he can help with any problem his customers bring him, from creating mouse ladders to keep mice from drowning in stock tanks and contaminating them, to welding several pieces of metal together to create a new sprayer arm.
“It is almost ‘what can’t you do?,’” he said. “With this equipment there is very little I can’t do.”
– Katie Zerr –