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Dane T. Scag

Dane Scag ’41 received his B.A. in physics and mathematics from North Central College and completed a M.A. in physics from the University of Illinois in 1942. He accepted a job teaching physics and math to military personnel. After completing his master’s degree in nuclear physics at the University of Illinois, Scag joined the teaching and research staff at Princeton University.

Princeton offered Scag tenure and a permanent home at the university. He was also offered the opportunity to be the director of the newly opened Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, a high-energy physics lab. He declined both offers and accepted a position with Allis-Chalmers, a diversified manufacturing company based in Milwaukee.

Allis-Chambers offered a creative outlet for Scag, allowing him to apply what he had studied all those years. There, he designed very high-energy X-ray machines, which were used to insect military cannons. Scag was also a one-man sales force for this revolutionary new test equipment. He traveled to military bases around the world to demonstrate the –ray machines. Later, this same technology became useful in treating deep-seated cancer, now commonly known as collimated radiation therapy.

Scag eventually directed advanced research projects at Allis-Chalmers before moving to McGraw-Edison Co., as vice president of research. He then took a leap into an entrepreneurial venture with the purchase of the Bob Cat snow thrower company. Recognizing he needed more than one selling product, he began tinkering with a new designed for a commercial lawn mower. In 1974, he introduced the first commercial, self-propelled, belt-drive lawn mower. Nine thousand units were sold within the first year.

At the young age of 63, Scag went back to his machine shop and began working on new mower designs. In a little more than a decade after its launch, Scag mowers were recognized as the most technologically advanced, efficient, and reliable machines on the market. In 1996, he began working on some new ideas for a commercial mower. He made a few machines that could negotiate tight turns and small areas around shrubs or landscaping. This evolved into a new company, which he called Great Dane Power Equipment. Scag built the company up to around $20 million with a manufacturing facility near Louisville, KY. In December 2000, he sold his company to John Deere. (Dianne White, “Flying Through the Decades…with Owner-Pilot Dane Scag” Twin & Turbine Magazine, March 2001 pp. 6-14)

In 2004, Dane Scag created the Dane T. Scag Scholarship to financially assist North Central College students majoring in science. In 2019 and in honor of Dane Scag’s engineering background, the scholarship was expanded to also include engineering majors.

In 2010, Dane Scag received an Outstanding Alumni Award for his contributions to science, engineering and small business.