Nick Kruse - Veteran's Day

Happy Veterans Day, 2021!

Thank you to ALL veterans for their dedication and service to our country.

On this Veteran’s Day, we also want to give special shout out to Smoky Lake’s Elite Craftsman, Nick Kruse, who served in the United States Navy. We feel pretty darn lucky to have Nick on our team!

What a Guy! Nick Kruse!

Nick Kruse, US Navy, 2009 – 2012

The below interview was conducted on November 9, 2021 between Angela Schumacher, Smoky Lake Owner, and Nick Kruse, Elite Craftsman at Smoky Lake.

Angela: Nick! Thanks for letting me interview you. For starters, which branch of the military did you serve?

Nick: I was in the United States Navy.

Angela: Cool! What was your role there?

Nick: I was a Surface Sonar Technician. In that role I used various sonar equipment to find and track surface and subsurface contacts.

Angela: Did you travel all over the world? 

Nick: I did my A-school stint in San Diego, CA and then was stationed at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Whidbey Island, WA. I also spent a good amount of time on the island of Okinawa, Japan and various cities on the main island of Japan.

Angela: What motivated you to join the service?

Nick: Both my Uncle and my Grandfather were graduates of the US Naval Academy. They were the real motivation to join when I found myself lost at 19.

Angela: I’ve seen you do a lot of really impressive work at Smoky Lake. Do you have a favorite product that you like to build? Or Is there a certain aspect of the production process that you take a particular amount of pride in?

Nick: My favorite thing about working at Smoky Lake would be how everything really is hand made from start to finish of the production process. Each pan and evaporator is it own unique piece of equipment. And with that hand crafted process comes a needed level of precision and attention to detail that makes Smoky Lake evaporators stand out. It’s that level of focus I enjoy. Hands down my favorite product to build is the StarCat divided and flat pans. I love the idea of a build-your-own hobby evaporator and I get into this flow and rhythm while welding them that really relaxes me. I could definitely see myself purchasing one of these when the time comes.

Angela: Have any lessons from your military service transferred over to your work at Smoky Lake?

Nick: The discipline and focus I learn during my time in the Navy has helped a great deal at Smoky Lake. 

Angela: That makes sense! Everyone always comments on your impeccable ability to focus! Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself?

Nick: Waffles are THE ONLY breakfast item to have with maple syrup. Pancakes are not better than waffles, and I’ll fight over it. Filling up each square with syrup is something I’ve enjoyed since I was 5.

Angela: Ha ha! I won’t fight you on this! Waffles it is!

Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us, Nick. We thank you wholeheartedly for your service, both in the military and as a coworker at Smoky Lake. Cheers to you! Happy Veterans Day! 


Angela Schumacher
Owner of Smoky Lake Maple Products