CHARLESTON, TENN. — Heinrich Dickhut, who founded pipe-corrugator maker Cullom Machine Tool & Die Inc. in 1979 and — a decade later — started Cleveland Tubing Inc., died Feb. 18, after a long battle with Parkinson's Disease.
Dickhut of Charleston, Tenn., was 75.
He was born in Breslau, Germany, in 1937 and immigrated to the United States in 1957 with $50 in his pocket and a dream of owning his own business. He sailed on the USS Berlin along with his sister, Sefa. When they arrived into New York, his uncle met them and took them to his home in Kankakee, Ill. There, Dickhut began a tool and die apprenticeship.
After a stint in the U.S. Army, he married Karen Berns in 1964 and finished his apprenticeship.
With a partner, Jerry Hayden, Dickhut bought a small machine shop, then in 1978 they picked up the former Morissette machine in Cullom, Ill.
The partners had an amicable parting in 1979. Dickhut received the Cullom plant, and Cullom Machine Tool & Die was born.
The corrugator business was born when a local clay tile and plastic pipe company brought its machines to Dickhut's company to get fixed, and they tinkered with new ideas.
In 1984, he and his wife moved the business to Cleveland, Tenn.
Dickhut founded Cleveland Tubing to make corrugated tubing for the liquid fuel containment industry. The product line grew to include toys, straws and medical tubing.
In 1997, he retired as president of Cleveland Tubing, and his daughter, Cathy Boettner, became president. The extrusion company built a new factory in 1998.
In 2004, the family sold the medical tubing business. Last summer they sold all of Cleveland Tubing to Euromax International.
The family sold Cullom in 2003 to Scioto Technologies Inc, a company in Columbus, Ohio.
Dickhut received the M.C. Headrick Award for Free Enterprise in 1998.