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Sparks Reed helps an Oklahoma icon refine its image

Creating a new standard

Published Sept.. 20, 2017

Solid industrial metals, bold orange furnishings, sleek modern finishes, cutting-edge technical services, all warmed by nature’s light.

For more than six decades, Charles Machine Works Inc. has brought those vibrant elements to construction sites around the world through its renowned Ditch Witch brand of trenchers, directional drills, and other innovative devices. 

These same elements now brighten the company’s Perry, OK., headquarters through a sweeping renovation by Sparks Reed Architecture and Interiors. That Tulsa firm also crafted a new design standard for Ditch Witch’s worldwide dealership network.


“It creates a structural identity Ditch Witch did not have before,” said Sparks Reed co-founder and lead interior designer Jill Selman. “We wanted to show the industrial side of who they are. We translated that into finishes and materials, mixing metal and steel with more modern color schemes.”


That proved a radical transformation for an office clinging to its original 1960s interior. 


“Everything was changed, from the lighting to the custom tables to the graphics on the walls,” Selman said. “We were very intentional about lining those things up with the image of what Ditch Witch is.”


The makeover started with a contract to develop new interior graphics for the offices of Charles Machine Works, parent of Ditch Witch. As Sparks Reed designers became more involved, the Perry company expanded its efforts to a general remodel of its conference room. Rising enthusiasm for Sparks Reed’s work led Ditch Witch to upgrade more and more of that workspace, until the entire front office glistened from Sparks Reed’s designs, implemented by Stillwater, OK, general contractor Lambert Construction. 


“It turned into a really nice three-year relationship,” said Sparks Reed co-founder and principal David Reed.


This transformation completely changed visitor perceptions. Sparks Reed added a welcoming awning to the building’s previously nondescript entryway, with bold letters proclaiming the Ditch Witch brand for the first time. CMW’s industrial roots shine through a concrete reception desk stamped with the company name, and newly exposed steel supports that open up the office’s once-closed ceiling spaces. Sparks Reed replaced the front lobby wall with broad glass panels that cast natural light across shiny new floors and glossy modern finishes. An LED light system adds to the office’s new array of efficient, contemporary furniture and fixtures, many cast in Ditch Witch’s classic orange color scheme. Decorations celebrating past company successes completed the renovation.  


“We really designed that lobby to be a museum,” said Reed. “It tells the history of Charles Machine Works, with a world map on the wall that shows where Ditch Witch is across the globe.”


These touches continued into the conference room, training room, and adjoined offices. Even the company store received a makeover, rising out of the basement to become a new showpiece proudly displaying the Ditch Witch name upon company shirts, hats, and other paraphernalia.


“I hope it had a big impact on sales,” Reed said with a smile.

Charles Machine Works officials so appreciated this work, they asked Sparks Reed to craft a matching design standard for future Ditch Witch dealerships. The private company also hired the Tulsa firm to redesign the headquarters entryway and lobby for subsidiary Subsite. 


The end result provided the Perry firm with a more efficient office, updated with the latest technical systems, in an environment that daily affirms the success Ditch Witch enjoys in the worldwide construction sector. 


“It was just a wonderful transformation,” said Selman.

Photos of the remodeled Ditch Witch headquarters 
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